August 1, 2021

Letter to the Editor: DART rock removal from Cayman Islands

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From James T. Hynes

June 28 2017

Re: DART Seven Mile Beach rock removal

Dear Premier McLaughlin and Members of the Legislative Assembly:

My wife and I have owned a home on Boggy Sand Road in West Bay since 1988, and have been regularly visiting Grand Cayman since 1979. Our family treasures the Island and its people and our children and grandchildren consider Cayman to be their second home. In fact, our grandchildren even refer to Seven Mile Beach “Our Beach”. Yes, it really is their beach, as well as the beach for all who live, work and visit these beautiful islands. It is up to you, the newly elected representatives of Cayman to make sure that future generations of children will also be able to call it “Our Beach”.

One way to ensure that future generations can enjoy the beauty of our seas and its bounty is to take environmental protection of Cayman’s unique place in the world – as home to one of the world’s most treasured environments – as the most important role in your legislative duties. Without our pristine waters, beaches and coral reefs, Cayman would not be the magnet for financial services, tourism and development that it currently enjoys. We would be just one more island.

Cayman rose to its current worldwide prominence because of the leadership and the forward thinking of one man “Mr. Jim”, James Bodden. He moved Cayman from a small, insular island to the powerhouse that it is today. If you elected representatives follow his example and put our Islands’ long-term interest to heart, you will be remembered as one who truly was a public servant who put Cayman first.

Now comes the hard part.

Recently the DART organization has requested Government’s approval to remove more than 1000 feet of submerged rock fronting property where it plans to build a new hotel. Disrupting the integrity of the rock underlying a significant portion of Seven Mile Beach could be disastrous and disrupt forever the hydrology and integrity of the most precious natural asset of Cayman. Government must require a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for this proposed project, led by an independent and respected engineering firm specializing in marine life. These submerged rocks were put into place over hundreds of years, and removing them could forever alter the beach.

At a minimum, DART must pay for and then conduct a comprehensive study on this proposal, and the Department of Environment must be given both the resources and authority to scientifically and thoroughly evaluate this EIA and make recommendations to Government to approve, modify or deny this proposal – the object being to protect Seven Mile Beach from harm. Without such a comprehensive evaluation, DART’s project could be the start of a downward environmental spiral for our dear Cayman. Neither Government nor Dart would want this to happen.

I am now retired, but for 40 years was an attorney in the USA. I served many years with the Federal Government and in private practice where I represented both the government and corporations on environmental matters such as this. I heard all of the usual complaints about environmental studies holding up projects and costing extra for development, stopping progress. Rarely, if ever, did the need for a comprehensive environmental review of a project ever stop a worthwhile project. A little delay, maybe a little increase in costs occurred, but a quality project should always withstand environmental scrutiny.

The DART organization has been a good partner with Government and has done many fine things for all of Cayman. By this letter I am not attempting to denigrate what they have done or trying to do. As elected representatives of the Cayman people, your primary responsibility is to Cayman and its future. Setting up a regime where the Department of Environment is given the tools, authority and financial resources to do their job to carefully review projects such as this is most critical.

Demanding a Comprehensive Environmental Assessment of this rock removal proposal and any future proposals that could impact our precious Seven Mile Beach and the waters of Cayman will put you in the good graces of all Caymanians, now and in the future. None of us know what the impact on Seven Mile Beach would be if this rock removal project is allowed to go forward without a comprehensive environmental review. If some day in the future this project causes a change and serious erosion of the beach, there could be damage to, for example, West Bay Cemetery and Cemetery beach. This cemetery was located there generations ago so it would be protected and respected. Don’t these pioneers of Cayman have a right to rest in peace and in honor? Is it too much to ask to be sure?

You are the first representatives elected under the new “one man, one vote” regime. Begin your legacy by making the right decision. Remember, once the beach dynamic is changed, there is no going back. Climate change is upon us and no one knows for sure what the future holds for Cayman. Be smart, protect at all cost what we have in our precious Island.

Very truly yours,

James T. Hynes

Boggy Sand Road

West Bay

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