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Pattaya beach remodel project defended by mayor

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: The Pattaya beach remodel project before and after.

After an uproar paused a beach remodel project that began Sunday, the Pattaya City Mayor held a press conference to explain and justify the remodel plans. Community leaders and notable residents protested the plans to launch the refurbishment, with complaints mainly on two grounds. First, many objected to the removal of trees that would come along with revamping the beachfront. And second, many felt the outpouring of money into an upgrade while so many were struggling and suffering from the economic effects of Covid-19 was a slap in the face to locals.

Pattaya City Mayor Sonthaya Khunploem addressed the local press to explain that the project is part of a long-term multi-phase project already in progress before Covid-19 and not taking funds away from Covid-19 assistance or relief. The project started with expanding the sand area of the beach and is connected to water drainage improvements recently completed in April.

The mayor attempted to counter the sentiment that this was a new project wasting money during a pandemic. Private investors and the Eastern Economic Corridor were financing the project that has been budgeted and planned for many years already. Sonthaya explained that even if the project was shut down, no money could be funnelled to Covid-19 efforts in Pattaya.

“The money being utilized for this plan could not be redirected to Covid-19 efforts even if we wanted to due to the fact that the project is an EEC initiative and was funded and raised well before the virus with EEC investors specifically raising funds for this purpose.”

Addressing the other primary concern about the project, the mayor said they were careful and considerate about the trees that would and wouldn’t be removed for the project. They designed the project to preserve at least 75% of the trees along the Pattaya beach and to avoid creating maintenance issues for the trees. The plan removes only larger, fast-growing trees that many vendors planted to provide shade to their stalls, citing safety and pest concerns.

“These larger trees have a tendency to have branches break, especially during heavy storms and we have had several incidents of people injured. The larger trees also tend to attract insects, birds, rodents, and other types of wildlife that both vendors and tourists dislike.”

The Pattaya Mayor defended the remodel plan, which even supporters admit bring some much-needed improvements to the beach area like bathrooms, parking, handicap access, and exercise and playground areas. He also made a point to bring attention to the various Covid-19 measures the government has launched, including private vaccine purchases, and assistance for those affected by the virus.

The mayor pledged to hold Covid-19 safety compliant town halls to further discuss the Pattaya beach remodel project.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

 

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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