November 26, 2020

Dart delay welcomed by protestors

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Alice Mae Coe of West Bay’s Concerned Citizens group

Both West Bay’s Concerned Citizens group and Bodden Town’s anti-dump coalition have welcomed the delay of the Dart-government final agreement, hoping to boost their fight against construction proposals in their districts.

At the same time, property developer, project manager for the Shetty Hospital and organiser of the “Make it Happen, Cayman” movement Gene Thompson yesterday expressed frustration at the delay.

“Things need to get going,” he said, lamenting the lack of movement on the Dart pact and other infrastructure projects. “It’s a good agreement and it needs to get done, and get done now.”

Meanwhile, spokesmen at China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) in Jamaica confirmed the postponement of the cruise-ship berthing project in George Town and Spotts, and the pier at the Cayman Turtle farm, but suggested the company was looking at a proposal to build docks in Red Bay.

Spokesman Bindley Sangster said Mr Bush had not visited the company during his two-day trip to Kingston this week, saying only “I can’t say more than the press release” in regard to the four-month postponement of a final construction agreement.

Spokeswoman Jennifer Ormond said, however, that the delay had been discussed for some time already, but “they just haven’t come to a decision. We are looking at the idea that Red Bay may be better,” she said, referring to a design by local sea captains for a cruise, yacht and cargo berth on an artificial island in South Sound’s Red Bay.

In West Bay, Alice Mae Coe, head of Concerned Citizens, welcomed the delay to the Dart pact, but reserved judgement: “So the UK has pulled the bridle in that as well?” she asked, alluding to Monday’s CHEC postponement in the face of London’s Framework for Fiscal Responsibility demand for better financial management. “Maybe common sense is prevailing?”

She said the group’s drive against the closure of the seafront section of the West Bay Road continued to gain momentum, but declined to enumerate the signatures on an anti-closure petition, launched in early September. Informal soundings indicate nearly 4,000, however, with a final drive scheduled today.

On 1 December, Ms Coe said, “We will meet from 5pm to 8pm at West Bay’s John Cumber hall, George Town’s Town Hall, the Bodden Town Civic Centre and the South Sound Community Centre to encourage people who may not have had the chance to sign, to come out and help.”

The petitions will be bound and presented on 12 December to Governor Duncan Taylor in a 4pm ceremony on the steps of the Government Administration Building.

She acknowledged the possibility that Mr Taylor could pass copies to London’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Premier McKeeva Bush, but the petition “was addressed personally to His Excellency in his capacity as the representative of the Queen. He has the power.”

She had spoken to members of the Keep Bodden Dump Free Coalition, she said, offering her support and suggesting that the landfill could be remediated on its current site.

Marleine Gaqnon of Keep Bodden Town Dump Free

On Tuesday, the coalition called the Dart delay “encouraging” while lamenting the lack of consultation on the landfill relocation and hoping for a government reconsideration.

“The coalition,” it said, “is hoping that the delay reflects a rethinking process within the government, which should “consider the interests of Bodden Towners over those of Dart.”

The group had worked to inform the district “of the threat such a new dump represents to the integrity of the district, to an already overtaxed infrastructure, and to the central wetlands”, pointing out the dump’s distance from George Town and the 250 daily truck trips,” attendant traffic, noise, pollution and risk of accidents.” The odour, it says, “would likely be carried far afield by the winds from the east.”

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