Coney Island – A Deer Sanctuary

Ok now that I establish that having the OBS on Coney Island is  not a good idea, what will be a better option if the itchy handed Gahmen die die cannot leave the place in tact.

I will suggest turning the island into a tourist attraction which will attract not just local but tourists to a side of Singapore that tourist seldom see. Turn it into a animal sanctuary where animals can roam free without barriers. Perhaps something like Nara Park where deer roams freely. So how about Coney Island – Deer Sanctuary?

Singapore still have a small population of Sambar deer. To grow the population, what better than to have a place where they can roam free and without danger from prey and cars? Coney Island is perfect for this purpose. It is a small little island with only 2 entrances to it which can easily be reconfigured so that the deer cannot escape to the mainland and scare the hell out of the little darlings of Punggol. There are no preys on the island other than monitor lizards and wild boars. dsc_0096

The deer can roam freely. Visitors to the island can mingle with the deer like they do at Nara. Of course to defray the cost of maintaining the island and the deer, the authorities  can charge a entrance fee.  The fee will also help to keep the number of visitors down so as to not overly disturb the deer.

And in no time, we will haveour population of Sambar deer back to healthy level.

dsc_0103

So how about it? Wildlife Reserve Singapore, Tourist Board,anybody?

PS: Photos are half effort photo shopped version of Coney Island with deer from Nara Park for illustration purpose only

Leave Coney Island alone

I was running at Coney Island last weekend, enjoying the rustic feel to it and the lack of concrete and buildings. Sadly this won’t last long because soon the bulldozer will come in and 10% of Coney Island will be taken up by the Outward Bound School for a new campus..

The move to have an OBS on Coney Island mystified me. Is there really a need to site one there and not any other places? So far I have not seen any justification to that. Mr Ng Chun Pin, deputy chief executive of the National Youth Council (NYC), which OBS is part of, said the new site on Coney Island was picked because of its proximity to the mainland, serving as a gateway for new activities. For example, participants may be able to go on multi-element expeditions on customised bicycles, with kayaks or canoes attached, to explore Singapore’s coastal waterways and park connectors. – ST 31 March 2016. That is equally true and applicable if OBS is located at East Coast Park or Punggol Waterway or even Changi Village.

To me, there are better and more accessible sites that can house the new OBS. The OBS at Coney Island will cost a whopping $250 million including $45m to build the basic infrastructure.  This mean installation of water pipes, electrical and communication cables; roads for trucks and cranes to come in. The whole nature of the island will be destroyed. Trees and plants will have to be cut down to make way for the OBS and wildlife whatever little that remained there will be adversely affected by the noise and dirt from the construction.

If what the OBS want is a site that is bigger and close to the mainland and near water, there is an alternative site available just a stone throw from Coney Island. It is this vacant piece of land at Pasir Ris Industrial Park 6. screenhunter_153-oct-15-12-52

img-20161015-wa0006

Building the OBS here has a lot of advantages.

Firstly it is on the mainland where there can be public transport making it convenient for people to travel to it, not least for the parents to send and pick up their children

Secondly as the land is vacant, there is no need to cut down trees and chase away any wildlife. No wildlife will be impacted and building and installation of infrastructure will be cheaper and more convenient. As most of the structure for the OBS are man-made – having an open ground will allow the planners to have a free and unrestricted hand in designing the optimum course.

Thirdly the site is still as accessible for water sports and connection to the park connectors with the sea and a convenient jetty just at the end of the field. I also understand there will be a new Park Connector coming up to link the Punggol area to the East Coast and which will certainly have to run through this area.

Last but not least, there is an army camp next to it. The OBS can tie up with Mindef for the OBS trainees to learn from the soldiers. In the event of emergency, the trainees can be treated by the medics there before emergency aids arrives.

So in conclusion, I would like the authorities to re-consider having the OBS campus on Coney Island. There are no value add on top of the inconvenience of having it on the island and it will in fact incur higher building and maintenance cost as compared to one on the mainland.

On the other hand, if we have to build something on it…….

Building for 6.9m

I been enjoying running at Coney Island since it opened. It is a nice little place and when I said little, it is really small. From the West Gate to the East Gate, it is just about 2.5 km long. And at its widest, it is probably not more than 500 metres wide. Such a small little and beautiful island and after its re-opening in October last year, I was glad that it has not been fully spruced up into a artificial park but was left rather wild and rustic.

So I was shocked when I read this letter in the ST on 13 January 2016 where the writer appealed to the authorities not to proceed with plans to build residential buildings on it. I nearly fell off my chair when I read this. Build houses on that small puny little island? A check on the URA Master Plan and I was shocked! A portion of the island has been earmarked for residential development. WTF!12509890_10205028159598711_8523602504501974086_n

Coney Island is generally divided into 2 by the main path. DSC_0096

On the right is the bigger portion, the sea fronting side with the beaches, toilet and trails. On the left is a small stretch of land facing Punggol. Apparently that small stretch of land is the reserved land for the building. That piece in my estimate is not even 100 metres wide! How many houses can they possibly build there on such a small area!

I am absolutely disgusted. My guess is some smart alec from the URA decided that Coney Island can be a mini Sentosa Cove and so will be suitable for private housing. The problem is, with the houses, there will have to be a proper access road and some basic amenities. If this plan goes ahead, the whole rustic nature of Coney Island will be totally destroyed.

What I cannot comprehend is why the gahmen is in such a rush to build and build. Even if they are planning for the fucking 6.9m, there is still no need to build on every little sliver of land available. At the current moment, there is a big oversupply of residential houses.  This January 2015 article in the Today paper stated the position very clearly. We do not need to build so many houses even if the crazy gahmen decides to go ahead with the 6.9m.

Already in HDB estates all over, HDB flats have sprung up on the small vacant corner lands fronting the road. In Pasir Ris, the forest along Drive 3 has almost disappeared except for one small stretch before the new bus depot. The rest has been taken up by condo after condo most of which as I understand are still not 100% sold. Ditto Yishun. Punggol is another example where the once open and beautiful Waterway is now sandwiched between row and row of apartment blocks.

Are we so short of houses that we freaking need to build and build? I hope the new Minister for Housing will do something but I am not holding my breathe for it. Sadly!

Return to Coney Island

The last time I went to Coney Island was 4 years ago and that was a “stealth ” visit. Hahaha.  Fast forward 4 years and Coney Island is now officially opens to the public and no more stealth visit!

Coney Island is a very small little island. From one end to another, the length is only 2.4 km at least according to the directional signboard posted there. 06-DSC_0100

The island is accessible via the East Entrance at Lorong Halus side. There is no proper parking facilities here though so those who drives have to park illegally along the road at Pasir Ris Coast Industrial Park 6 Road and walk 500 metres to the island or park at the limited car parking space at Lorong Halus Wetland Reserve and walk 1 km.02-DSC_0091The other way to the West Entrance is from the Punggol side.  Parking is available at the Punggol Road End where the Punggol Settlement is and a short walk along the Punggol Promenade will leads to the West Entrance.18-DSC_0125

To my relief, there seems to be little that has changed since my last visit there. The island is still just as rustic except there are more signage, more proper footpath on top of short trails that lead to the various beach , a toilet and some bird watching hide.

Information sign on the island05-DSC_0099 01-DSC_0098

A proper concrete footpath that starts from the East Entrance to the seaward side07-DSC_0103

Multiple dirt trails like this that radiant from all over the main path to the various beaches 10-DSC_0108

One of the many small little beach area15-DSC_0118

Bird watching hide12-DSC_0113

Areas that have been left intact09-DSC_0107 08-DSC_0106

There are supposed to be birds, wild boars, otters and even a cow there but unfortunately other than the chirping of birds, I didn’t even seen or smell any thing. I mean how difficult is it to spot a cow on this wee little island? Or maybe it wander out of the open gate?04-DSC_0095The nice thing about the island is that on the seaward side, one have an impressive view of the coastline including Pasir Ris on the right, Punggol on the left and the Malaysian port of Pasir Gudang.

Nparks has thoughtfully created a nice sitting area for people to sit and enjoy the breeze and view on the west side of the island. 17-DSC_0122

The view of Pasir Gudang would have been better if not for the haze.16-DSC_0119

My visit was on the 2nd day after the opening and sadly there were litters all over like this water bottle. Other litter spotted were a trash bag, a bandana, a fast food paper bag and of course tissues papers all over the place.14-DSC_0116

I think Nparks has done a great job in restoring Coney Island and keeping it in its rustic state. I had expected trees to be cut down, concrete pavement all over, manicured lawns and neatly arranged saplings but thankfully there is none of that.