September 20, 2020

Dart are way off target say coalition

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Captain Brian Ebanks

A coalition of West Bay activists are organising to oppose district plans by the Dart-government partnership to close West Bay Road near Public Beach and dig a marine hurricane shelter in Salt Creek.

Appearing on Radio Cayman’s “Talk Today” yesterday afternoon, West Bay’s Captain Brian Ebanks argued that a planned “hurricane hold” in Salt Creek should be cancelled, while Alice Mae Coe’s “Concerned Citizens” group will this evening present to the coalition a draft petition to preserve West Bay Road.

Mr Ebanks said that government had originally designated as “environmentally sensitive” the Salt Creek area, but “they changed their mind and now have made deals for public land. They want to dig it up, create a hole, put heavy equipment in there, dredge it and bring in electricity and traffic, destroying a sensitive area, creating a shelter for local boats.”

Tonight, his “Save Cayman” organisation will meet Alice Mae Coe’s “Concerned Citizens” group and Ormond Morgan’s West Bay Action Committee — and other members of the community — to finalise a draft petition to Governor Duncan Taylor.

The document asks Mr Taylor to deny permission to the Dart-government ForCaymanAlliance to close 2,500 feet of West Bay Road, re-routing traffic onto the four-lane Harquail Road Bypass via Governor’s Way near Trafalgar Place. The private developer will extend the highway to West Bay’s Batabano Plaza, creating a roundabout at Yacht Drive to enable local traffic to resume travel on West Bay Road,

At a meeting at John A. Cumber school last week, led by Cadian Ebanks, at least 20 people registered their dismay at the plans, vowing to oppose the plan.

Suggesting that Premier McKeeva Bush has overstepped his authority by swapping crown land for private development, Mr Ebanks said he hoped to rally public support against a variety of ForCaymanAlliance proposals, including the road realignment, relocation of the George Town landfill to Breakers and the hurricane shelter, whether in Salt Creek or a Barker’s National Park alternative.

“What is being done to the road is unconstitutional,” Mr Ebanks said. “Under section 38, the governor is directly responsible for crown land, the Queen’s land. Nowhere does the constitution mention the premier or the cabinet.”

Mr Ebanks hoped the coalition would tap a groundswell of opposition, and indicated ForCaymanAlliance support was soft.

“There are a lot of people and a lot of faces down here. It’s just a matter of common sense,” he said. “We are discussing the possibility of getting the governor to take possession of those blocks and parcels of land between the [Harquail Bypass] and the sea, and rezone it for recreational purposes.”

He remained dubious about Dart plans to expand Public Beach, creating an entirely new waterfront park just to the north.

Cadian Ebanks talks with concerned West Bay residents

“Mr Dart is working for himself, and I am working for the Cayman Islands and Caymanians.”

Driving the realigned road, he said would “take an extra 15 minutes, and anyone making six trips, seven trips per week, is going to pay about $1,500 more for gas every year, and that is additional to mileage and wear and tear.”

He feared commercial development of Barker’s National Park if Dart were allowed to acquire 72 acres in a land swap in the area.

“If the government opens a channel to get boats inside” a storm shelter he said, “it means Dart pays no money to get that land and develop it.”

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