It’s been almost two years since Belfast developer Paul Naron opened his new waterfront property to the public on a day filled with cheers and fanfare.
When Naron took a handsaw and started cutting through the thick timbers that separated two sides of the Belfast Harbor Walk, it allowed pedestrians to move freely between Heritage Park and Steamboat Landing Park. The move allowed walkers to avoid an uphill detour that swerved around the previously closed private property.
It was a good day for the developer, and for anyone who enjoys strolling, jogging or cycling along the harbor.
He hopes that people who support him — and who want the Harbor Walk to stay open — will come to a public work session at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 2, at Belfast City Hall. There likely won’t be an opportunity for members of the public to speak at the meeting, but Naron believes their presence alone may be powerful.
“I’ve got hundreds of people telling me I should shut the damn thing down,” he said, adding that he doesn’t really want to do that but feels as if it is the only way city officials might listen to him. “This is the only way we can discuss it. I don’t know if it’s going to do any good. There hasn’t been any open discourse between me and them.”
According to Naron, his problem with the city centers on the Harbor Walk, a popular pedestrian pathway that stretches more than half a mile from the Armistice Bridge to the Belfast Boat House. The developer, who created the United Farmers’ Market on Spring Street, wants to convert the two waterfront buildings to multi-use commercial spaces and expand the existing wharf to create a marina.