Operation Waterfront: a new project which could lead to a transformation of one of Kirkcaldy's finest natural assets

An awful lot has changed since Adam Smith looked out across the harbour in Kirkcaldy and was inspired to write his famous book.

Thursday, 7th July 2016, 4:03 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th July 2016, 5:06 pm
Cllr Neil Crooks ,FFP editor Allan Crow and David Grove.

But one thing remains true – Kirkcaldy’s waterfront is one of the jewels in our crown.

And it’s one we turned out back on generations ago.

Operation Waterfront aims to change that.

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It’s been a few years in the making, but the drive to bring new creative thinking to the Esplanade has finally started.

The 2012 summit which led to the launch of Kirkcaldy’s Ambitions and a blueprint for the short, medium and long-term projects which can rejuvenate our town has now had a spin-off.

Last week, around 30-40 local community groups were at the Town House to start work in earnest on Kirkcaldy’s unique waterfront.

The completion of the £9m sea wall has given us a blank canvas.

Now it’s time to add some colour.

Everyone has their own ideas on what we could – should, even – do with the waterfront; from making the road single carriageway and creating more parking spaces; coffee stalls and pop-up shops; and even artwork in the sea.

As a member of the Ambitions group, I was asked to put together a report on the creative and cultural renaissance of the waterfront.

It was duly adopted by councillors and that, in turn, led to an evening which formally launched Operation Waterfront.

Councillor Neil Crooks, chairman of Kirkcaldy area committee, and I hosted the event at which the groups’ representatives were asked to feedback on the ideas, and come up with their own thoughts. Armed with Post-It notes and pens, they were able to pinpoint the areas they saw as priority for action and comment of key aims of the project.

Imagine: A new look starting at the Basin ...

Operation Waterfront covers from the Basin to the harbour and aims to finally link the town centre to the sea front.

Imagine a visitor to the town parking at the Basin. What do they see?

Currently they get no information about Kirkcaldy – or indeed how close they are to the town centre.

It’s simply a car park with information on parking rules.

But, imagine a Basin with information boards telling its role in the town’s history, and highlighting the landmarks to first-time visitors – from the floodlights of Stark’s Park to the focal points out across the Forth.

Imagine if it then invited you to explore the waterfront at your leisure...

Imagine: An artistic touch by the sea ...

Public art can be a minefield – but get it right, and it can be a focal point for towns, and a source of huge pride.

There are ideas galore to enhance the waterfront, and already they’re starting to be refined.

Isn’t it time we finally honoured Jocky Wilson, twice world darts champ?
Imagine three giant darts embedded into the rocks on the sea wall, 180m along the waterfront ... would that be a fitting tribute?

Imagine sculptures of well known Kirkcaldy folk all peering over the sea wall...

And imagine a timeline which ran the length of the waterfront – or on the sea wall itself – which celebrated the town’s greatest successes, its people, and its culture – from the great and the good to Lang Toun Lads and Lasses, from family businesses to pioneers who made their mark at home and abroad...

Imagine: Turning the Esplanade into a place to stay fit...

The waterfront is used by thousands of people every week – from dog walkers, to folk out for a stroll to those who run, cycle or jog along it.

Imagine if we placed markers every 100m to allow you to time and pace yourself ...

Imagine: Opening up Volunteers Green.

It’s the only green space in our town centre, but Volunteers Green remains empty and unused.


Imagine if we opened it up, placed an outdoor gym within it, removed the jaggy bushes and made it a place to relax and play?
Would you use it then?
Could it host events – live music, theatre groups and community events?

By far the busiest table at the summit was the one which showed plans of the layout of the green and invited folk to have their say.

The feedback was instant and detailed – underlining how much people care about it, and that they want to see it brought into daily use.

Imagine: What would you do with £1000 funding?

The summit challenged people to come up with ideas based on small pockets of funding – and, once again, there were some fantastic ideas.

Businesses also saw the potential to get involved, and, in doing so, opened up further debates on new ideas.

The evening concluded with all the notes and comments being gathered up, and they will now form the basis of a feedback report.

After that, the aim is to set up a group of local folk from organisations across the town to go to work on what can be achieved.

There may not be massive funding available right now, but there IS a huge amount of will to make things happen. And that’s invaluable.