iLocal News Archives

DART DEAL STARTS: Bush breaks ground for a new highway

Premier McKeeva Bush

The first phase of the billion-dollar Dart development has started.

The controversial project to extend Esterley Tibbetts Highway is, according to critics, the first step towards the closure of West Bay Road.

But despite hundreds of objections in the form of a petition against the closure, Premier McKeeva Bush has started the ball rolling by taking a shovel to the ground himself.

The new road, which may ultimately lead to the extension of the public beach, is the tip of the iceberg in realty company Dart’s $1.2 billion 30 year scheme.

It took an eleventh hour decision to give the green-light to the project as it was as late as Tuesday when Cabinet approved the plans for the ForCayman Investment.

Bush insists the project symbolises “a true public-private partnership” but critics say the Premier is selling out the country to American billionaire Ken Dart.

Government and Dart Realty yesterday broke ground on the new $33 million extension of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, launching the first project under the ForCayman Investment partnership between the two groups.

 Ground broken on Dart scheme  

Premier McKeeva Bush led the ceremony, against a backdrop of earthmoving equipment, in a Dart-owned field adjacent to the company’s plant nursery at Batabano in West Bay.

“This symbolises the true public-private partnership,” he told the gathering, initiating the $1.2 billion, 30-year scheme for an island-wide series of infrastructure projects intended to revitalise a sagging economy. The alliance, he said, will “get people back to work.

“The world economy is shattering all around us. We know and we should be thankful that we have long-term sustainable projects on the table,” he said.

The four-lane road, linking Batabano with the end of the current limit of the highway behind the former Marriott Courtyard Hotel, will take 20 months to complete, built across 3.8 acres of undisturbed Dart-owned land, meaning formal approval for the project is not necessary.

Mr Bush was at pains, however, to point out that only yesterday Cabinet had given its approval for the project, the first official mandate by Governor Duncan Taylor for any of the ForCayman projects.

Members of the Government and Dart break ground at the new road site

“I would like to thank Miss Juliana, who has been pushing and moving the regulations through the cabinet,” he said, alluding to Deputy Premier and Sister Islands MLA Juliana O’Connor-Connolly.

“The Cabinet today approved the Esterley Tibbetts Highway extension, so there is nothing ultra vires, nothing illegal going on here,” he said, pointing to last week’s iNews report that Mr Taylor had neither seen nor signed any applications to cede more than 150 acres of crown land to Dart Realty.

iNews, he said, “was very wrong to report that, Apparently you and the governor have some sort of affair going on.”

The ForCayman projects envision a land swap between Dart and the crown, involving more than 400 acres, with most going to the government. Yesterday’s Cabinet approval does not affect any of the other planned developments, however, including the controversial closure of 2,500 feet of West Bay Road when the extension is completed in 2013.

“People who oppose us don’t understand,” Mr Bush said. “They don’t understand crime, its causes, and that people are really hurting. We have got to understand that.

“We are not giving away this country,” he said, assailing critics who have accused him of “selling the nation” to Dart Corporation chief Kenneth Dart.

“We are trying to help people. How can you twist that? Thank God someone is here willing to help us. The Bahamas, Bermuda, all sorts of people,” he said, had approached the Dart Corporation, seeking investment projects similar to the Cayman Islands.

“Governors of the states in the US are going around asking companies to invest, giving them breaks on taxes and land and development.

“Yet we are going around rubbing our firearms while wild elephants are getting ready to trample us,” Mr Bush said.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *