OCHO RIOS, St Ann — NO Trespassing signs could soon be sprouting around Little Dunn's River, a popular beach in Ocho Rios enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.
Residents fear the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), which owns the property near the Mystic Mountain attraction, will privatise it.
If the government agency sells or leases the property, it could end years of free public access.
Laura Heron, the general manager of the St Ann Development Company, said the UDC sent out a request for proposals last year and recently extended the evaluation period for proposals submitted.
However, the Development Bank of Jamaica is in charge of the process, she said.
Dr Wykeham McNeill, the tourism minister, has not denied speculation that the property would be privatised.
"It's UDC's property and there are a number of proposals before them," he said. "I can't tell you what the final decision is."
But whatever that decision, the UDC has to clean up property and properly maintain it, he said. "It cannot be allowed to continue how it is going on."
The beach is not being adequately maintained, and refuse is often seen on the property, he said. "It's not environmental friendly."
The trail to the property was dangerous, which should be addressed before an accident occurs, he said. "We have to be careful and protect our product. I am not comfortable with how it is right now," he said.
The fate of the beach should be made with the Resort Board, community representatives and other stakeholders, he said.
Asked whether the Tourism Enhancement Fund could be used to help to maintain public beaches, he said the aim is "to develop a product both Jamaicans and our visitors can enjoy".