Kiosk would ‘take an atom bomb to demolish’
A FORMER operator of La Vallette kiosk has highlighted the challenges of redeveloping the site, including ‘astronomical’ maintenance, winter storms, year-round commercial viability, antisocial behaviour and a shortage of parking.
Gareth Stevens ran the kiosk and looked after the pools and facilities from 1990 to 2003 and was also made a special constable for the area.
He wished the team which is leading the redevelopment project the best of luck, but he was not entirely convinced that it would be feasible.
‘I support any type of development that will improve things and these plans look fantastic, but I can’t actually see them working because I don’t think it could be economically viable because what looks rather attractive for six months of the year isn’t quite the same in the winter – and the negatives are really, really negative.’
Vive La Vallette recently unveiled its architectural plans for the area. The vision is for an accessible three-level building with modern changing rooms, a cafe, and a private space that could be rented out for corporate events or activities such as yoga and pilates.
Swimmers at a public meeting this month seemed generally supportive of the plans, but did voice concerns about the loss of a small free kitchen, and whether regulars could end up feeling excluded from their special spot.
Despite the hard work, Mr Stevens has fond memories of his time at La Vallette and has a big collection of memorabilia about the area, including postcards and letters from the States of Guernsey that date back to the 1930s.
He has a long history in catering because he also owned the Ribshack, Chicken George, and ran various kiosks across the island.
It was important, he said, to get across the whole picture about what La Vallette is really like, including the storm damage and ongoing maintenance against, for example, algae.
On the issue of construction, Mr Stevens said it would take an atom bomb to demolish the current site.
‘This is Fort Knox, it is a very well-built structure, so the demolition is not going to be straightforward.
‘Over the years, the cement gets much harder, and they reinforced the wall with stones.
‘It looks like they are using a lot of that modern type of wood. Not a hope in hell, not in a month of Sundays.’
So, with his wealth of experience, what does Mr Stevens think would be a success at La Vallette?
‘I know it sounds awful but if it ain’t bust don’t fix it. You’re going to open up a hornets’ nest there of difficulties and problems because when you realise what it’s like to dismantle that place or reconstruct it – I think it’s going to be a shock.
‘I hope it is fantastic, but if you want to succeed those people who are very vociferous about it happening should put their hands in their pockets and pay for it, and then that’ll make them very hungry to make it successful.’