October 23, 2020

Collapse looms if projects don’t start

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Business leaders have described growing frustration with trying to rebuild Cayman’s economy and put people to work, fearing the Islands are in profound danger if development projects do not start soon.

In a series of full-page advertisements, at least 33 business owners have signaled support for the Dart Realty-government ForCayman Investment Alliance, a $1.2 billion 30-year development programme that proposes an immediate outlay of $200 million in the next 12 months.

Sparked by Thompson Development Group Director Gene Thompson, the “Make it Happen Cayman” plea points to high unemployment and stagnant investment, saying the alliance will stimulate the economy, put people back to work and create business opportunites.

While Mr Thompson — heading Dr Devi Shetty’s Narayama Cayman hospital project, initially forecast to break ground in October – was unavailable off-island, others described the situation.

“It’s frustrating,” said A.L. Thompson, owner of A.L. Thompson Building Supplies. “You have people protesting, saying it’s just not right, but people need work, and the Dart organsation has been really helpful in keeping this economy going in the last two years.

“Closing 2,500 feet of the West Bay Road frees up land that could be developed and provide jobs,” he said, alluding to community protests against rerouting the road between Public Beach and the Cayman Islands Yacht Club.

The “Open Letter to the People of the Cayman Islands” affirms support for both the road closure and concomitant extension of  the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, calling it ‘a matter of the utmost urgency” to sign the Dart-government contract and “jump start our economy”.

Earlier this week, Premier McKeeva Bush told iNews Cayman “this country will die” without both the Dart agreement and the cruise-port-construction deal with China Habour Engineering Company. Due to be signed this month, Mr Bush was, however, unable to name a date for either, citing various “setbacks”.

“If we continue to stop every project, we will end up back under the coconut trees,” said Tortuga Rum founder–owner Robert Hamaty. “No one wants to destroy the environment, but you have to think: What’s good for the country, for jobs, for your children growing up?.”

Architect Burns Conolly, whose Emerald Sounds development was thwarted this week by elected officials, said the “Make it Happen” group was a product of “pure frustration.”

“Nothing is happening in the country, and people need to pay their mortgages and get back to work. The banks are taking their homes. Dart is willing to invest, to spend $200 million in the next two years, while the Bahamas are trying to get them to leave Cayman. And we are getting people objecting.”

 

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