September 24, 2020

New beach plan for West Bay Road

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Contractors will create an entirely new recreational area to the north of the Public Beach as part of Dart Realty’s $1.2 billion, 30-year deal with local government, creating a host of new amenities.

The first phase of the project will start in 12 months as Dart closes an initial section of West Bay Road in front of the old Marriott Courtyard Hotel, marking the start to reconstruction of both the building and Public Beach.

West Bay MLA and Deputy Speaker Cline Glidden outlined the plan at a Thursday night community meeting at West Bay’s John A. Cumber School to discuss the “ForCaymanAlliance” plans by Dart and the administration.

The new area is in addition to the refurbishment of Public Beach, Mr Glidden said, unveiling the plan as part of the reconstruction of the West Bay Road corridor.

“We will add a whole new beach just off Yacht Drive. We think this an enhancement as we close a portion of West Bay Road,” he told a packed auditorium.

“The new beach will offer parking for 200 cars, new food and beverage areas, cabanas, a carousel, a campsite, bike paths, bathrooms, three beach volleyball courts, a beach soccer pitch and open lawns,” he said.

Asked about access to the nearly half-mile of waterfront after the closure of 2,500 feet of West Bay Road between Coutts and Yacht Drive, Dart Realty Director and Chief Operating Officer Jackie Doak said the outline plan showed only the main highway.

“The map shows only the area of the road closure, but there will be other access roads,” she said, countering doubts about the project and suggesting the new facilities would be broadly available.

Minister of Education and MLA Rolstin Anglin rebuffed one speaker who opposed the road closure, telling the MLA that the move was likely to “change our lives, our lifestyle, our culture and our habits”.

“It’s frustrating where we have got to,” Mr Anglin said, “when there is no long-range planning. It means our children will have to get to grips with how we build our economy in the future. Closing the road will ‘change our lives’? We‘re not seeing beyond the tips of our noses,” he said.

West Bay MLA Cline Glidden

“We need to look at the big picture for the future. We are complaining about 2,000 feet of road? Most of that is privately owned, and what happens if the private owners decided to build condos. This is going to be developed anyway. We need a long-term view for this country,” Mr Anglin said.

Ms Doak said the closure was critical to plans for the area. The reconstruction and expansion of the beach was part of the re–creation of the Courtyard Marriott.

“Hotels located there have failed twice,” she said, alluding to the old Holiday Inn as well as the Marriott. “So we need the road relocated,” echoing a similar application several years ago, rejected by Planning officials, by previous owner Stan Thomas.

Addressing a suggestion for a footbridge across West Bay Road, linking the hotel with the beach, similar to that at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, she said “there is not enough depth there for a bridge.”

Mr Glidden rejected the suggestion that the public was giving up 3.5 acres of critical land to aid Dart’s private plans.

”We are getting nine acres of land between Public Beach and the Esterley Tibbetts Highway,” he said. “That land once sold for $6 million. We are not losing the beach; we are gaining six acres of land.”

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