October 24, 2020

March to stop road closure

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Drawing as many as 300 people, a Saturday protest rally on Public Beach vilified government plans to close West Bay Road, accusing Premier McKeeva Bush of ignoring constituents and selling Caymanians’ birthright.

“We must stand up for what is right. Even if the economy is bad, you do not give away your assets,” said Alice Mae Coe, head of West Bay’s Concerned Citizens Group.

“Our representatives are supposed to represent us, to do what we want them to. We want the Esterley Tibbetts Highway extension built, and we are happy to go straight through to Batabano, but this is being done for Mr Dart so he can get to his property.

“We want both roads,” she said. “We never signed up to say we will take one and not the other.”

Ms Coe said she had collected “nearly 3,000 names” on a petition, launched last month for delivery to Governor Duncan Taylor, opposing closure of 2,500 feet of West Bay Road between Trafalgar Square and the Cayman Islands Yacht Club.

The “For Cayman Investment Alliance”, a partnership between elected government and Camana Bay developers Dart Realty, proposes to close the half-mile of road, re-routing traffic to the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, in aid of Dart’s reconstruction of the former Marriott Courtyard Hotel.

Dart is already extending the highway to West Bay’s Batabano, while promising to improve Public Beach, expanding it eastward around the hotel, and northward along the shoreline, building recreational facilities including kiosks, volleyball and football pitches, cabanas, barbeque pits and cycling tracks, with access to all.

The project forms only a fraction of larger multimillion-dollar plans for a series of island-wide infrastructure improvements and land swaps, including relocation of the George Town landfill, creation of public parks and schools, more hotels and a possible hurricane shelter in Barkers
National Park.

The West Bay Road closure, Dart says, is integral to the economic viability of the hotel, but has met stiff opposition from a series of informal
community groups.

“One of the dangers of this,” Ms Coe said, “is that it sets a precedent. What happens when other local landowners say we should close the road on
their seafront?”

Joined by North Side MLA Ezzard Miller and East End MLA Arden Mclean, protestors formed ragged, orderly ranks, marching West Bay Road to Yacht Drive, chanting and waving placards, delaying local traffic under the close eye of RCIPS
patrol cars.

“Leave something truly Caymanian, something that our forefathers left to us,” exhorted Ezmie Smith, addressing the assemblage.

Protestors take to the streets to stop road closure

“This is an insult,” said Captain Bryan Ebanks, head of the Save Cayman group. “Our representatives are like little children. Are they really telling us that the economic future of these islands depends on this 2,500 feet of road? Whose interests are
they defending?”

Ormand Morgan, former independent political candidate and head of the West Bay Action Group, accused the ruling United Democratic Party of “arrogance, ignorance and a dose of real greed. Who do our representatives take us for? We should not have to protest our own road. Leave West Bay Road alone.”

Mr Miller affirmed his support for the opposition, alluding to successful summertime efforts to halt proposed construction of developer Joe Imparato’s East End Seaport on 600 acres of land at High Rock.

“It’s a pleasure to stand and fight against injustice,” Mr McLean told the crowd, also referencing the East End Seaport protest. “This is your country and you have the right to stand in front of the bulldozers if necessary. I oppose this; there is no need for it and if you don’t stop McKeeva Bush now, you’ll have to stop him in 19 months at the next election.”Drawing as many as 300 people, a Saturday protest rally on Public Beach vilified government plans to close West Bay Road, accusing Premier McKeeva Bush of ignoring constituents and selling Caymanians’ birthright.

“We must stand up for what is right. Even if the economy is bad, you do not give away your assets,” said Alice Mae Coe, head of West Bay’s Concerned Citizens Group.

“Our representatives are supposed to represent us, to do what we want them to. We want the Esterley Tibbetts Highway extension built, and we are happy to go straight through to Batabano, but this is being done for Mr Dart so he can get to his property.

“We want both roads,” she said. “We never signed up to say we will take one and not the other.”

Ms Coe said she had collected “nearly 3,000 names” on a petition, launched last month for delivery to Governor Duncan Taylor, opposing closure of 2,500 feet of West Bay Road between Trafalgar Square and the Cayman Islands Yacht Club.

The “For Cayman Investment Alliance”, a partnership between elected government and Camana Bay developers Dart Realty, proposes to close the half-mile of road, re-routing traffic to the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, in aid of Dart’s reconstruction of the former Marriott Courtyard Hotel.

Dart is already extending the highway to West Bay’s Batabano, while promising to improve Public Beach, expanding it eastward around the hotel, and northward along the shoreline, building recreational facilities including kiosks, volleyball and football pitches, cabanas, barbeque pits and cycling tracks, with access to all.

The project forms only a fraction of larger multimillion-dollar plans for a series of island-wide infrastructure improvements and land swaps, including relocation of the George Town landfill, creation of public parks and schools, more hotels and a possible hurricane shelter in Barkers
National Park.

The West Bay Road closure, Dart says, is integral to the economic viability of the hotel, but has met stiff opposition from a series of informal
community groups.

“One of the dangers of this,” Ms Coe said, “is that it sets a precedent. What happens when other local landowners say we should close the road on
their seafront?”

Joined by North Side MLA Ezzard Miller and East End MLA Arden Mclean, protestors formed ragged, orderly ranks, marching West Bay Road to Yacht Drive, chanting and waving placards, delaying local traffic under the close eye of RCIPS
patrol cars.

“Leave something truly Caymanian, something that our forefathers left to us,” exhorted Ezmie Smith, addressing the assemblage.

“This is an insult,” said Captain Bryan Ebanks, head of the Save Cayman group. “Our representatives are like little children. Are they really telling us that the economic future of these islands depends on this 2,500 feet of road? Whose interests are
they defending?”

Ormand Morgan, former independent political candidate and head of the West Bay Action Group, accused the ruling United Democratic Party of “arrogance, ignorance and a dose of real greed. Who do our representatives take us for? We should not have to protest our own road. Leave West Bay Road alone.”

Mr Miller affirmed his support for the opposition, alluding to successful summertime efforts to halt proposed construction of developer Joe Imparato’s East End Seaport on 600 acres of land at High Rock.

“It’s a pleasure to stand and fight against injustice,” Mr McLean told the crowd, also referencing the East End Seaport protest. “This is your country and you have the right to stand in front of the bulldozers if necessary. I oppose this; there is no need for it and if you don’t stop McKeeva Bush now, you’ll have to stop him in 19 months at the next election.”

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