Gurney Wharf project stirring up waves of interest

Pratt enjoying his jog along Gurney Drive. He hopes the project would solve the problem of rubbish and mud at low tide.

The Gurney Wharf project has drawn a mixed reaction from the public.

While some have given the thumbs up to the mammoth project, others remain cautious on the impact it would cause to the environment.

Avid jogger and lawyer David Hoon said the project would definitely be a boon for joggers as the makeover would rid the stench emanating from the sea during low tide.

“The air here would be fresher. I hope the project would be people-centric and ideal for recreation for the whole family rather than a commercial one,” added Hoon, 56.

On Tuesday, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng announced the massive recreational waterfront project, which would include a seaside food and beverage area, water gardens, beach and coastal groves spanning some 1.5km of shoreline.

The distance from the existing Gurney Drive to Gurney Wharf varies between 230m and 140m out in the sea from the Jalan Pemenang and Lorong Burma underpasses respectively.

Briton Alan Pratt, a marine consultant, said the government should just go ahead with the project rather than wait for feedback.

“I have been coming back to Penang every year and this is my favourite spot for jogging.

“However, you can see the presence of rubbish and mud at low tide. This vibrant waterfront project would address the issue once and for all,” added the 58-year-old.

Restaurant owner Albert Fong welcomed the wharf project as it would transform the promenade which he claimed had been “neglected for a long time”.

Project supervisor Herman Poh, 41, said he was impressed by the concept master plan prepared by award-winning international consultants.

“If you have been to Singapore, then you will realise one of the components of Gurney Wharf is similar to Gardens by the Bay.

“The whole Gurney Wharf will surely inject us with something different that is suitable for people of all ages,” he said when met at the exhibition booth meant to collect public feedback on the project in Komtar yesterday.

However, a mall operator has remained cautious of the proposed development especially during the construction period.

“During this time, it may affect the traffic flow and disrupt the businesses here.

“However, if the construction is out at sea as reported, the impact would be minimal.

“The development would bring in a lot of benefits in the long run,” said Hunza Properties executive director Lily Tan.

The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) said the rehabilitation of Gurney Drive was welcome but sourcing of materials including sand and rocks for the reclamation would be a major issue of concern.

“Creating a park in the sea actually causes a devastating impact on the environment elsewhere owing to quarrying and sand-mining or dredging activities.

“This waterfront development is basically pieces of artificial nature,” it said in a statement.

CAP also said that maintaining the artificial beach was going to be expensive in the years to come if the foreshore continues to be sedimented.

Tanjung Tokong resident Fazilah Wallen, 51, said she had some reservations about the Gurney foreshore reclamation totalling 53ha.

She said she was positive about the iconic Gurney Wharf project but it would occupy only 24ha of the land.

“I was told the balance of 29ha would be Government reserve land. What will happen to this land?

“Will high-rise projects be allowed on this land which only benefits the rich and foreigners?” she asked.

The public can give views on the proposed master plan by submitting them in the feedback box at the exhibition area in front of the Popular Bookstore in Komtar today.

The exhibition will then move to Gurney Plaza from tomorrow until March 6. - The Star

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