October 25, 2020

Road closure is longer, says Alice

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Captain Bryan Ebanks

In a surprise Thursday night revelation, Alice Mae Coe, head of West Bay’s Concerned Citizens Group, said the section of road by Public Beach scheduled for closure was nearly 1,250 feet longer than government claims.

Visibly bristling, Ms Coe and a packed assembly hall at John A. Cumber School, vowed to stage a public demonstration on the steps of the Legislative Assembly. By the end of the evening, organisers had collected dozens of volunteers and contact details, exhorting each to invite 10 friends to the march when the assembly reconvenes.

“We measured the road,” Ms Coe said, displaying photographs of the survey effort. “The section was 3,731 feet long,” she told a packed John A. Cumber School gathering.

The survey, she said, extended from the southernmost point of Public Beach, opposite Trafalgar Square, to the junction of West Bay Road and Yacht Drive, long advertised as 2,500 feet and scheduled to be closed to enable Dart Realty to redevelop the old Courtyard Marriott Hotel, refurbish Public Beach and extend the recreational area northward along the waterfront.

“It was not 2,500 feet, but was 3,731 feet,” Ms Coe said. ”Who is misleading whom? That does not encourage us to trust anything that comes out of their mouth. The entire population of the Cayman Islands has been misled.”

Premier – and West Bay MLA – McKeeva Bush has accused dissenters of misleading the public during it’s three-and-a-half month petition drive, collecting more than 4,100 signatures, opposing closure of the section of West Bay Road, claiming it is unnecessary, a blow to traditional values and a violation of public trust.

“Those people have told too many lies,” Mr Bush told iNews Cayman on Thursday, alluding to the petition, submitted to Governor Duncan Taylor on 12 December.

An earlier analysis of the document, passed by Mr Taylor to Mr Bush, had indicated myriad irregularities, including unverified signatures, partial names, duplicates, children, visitors and signatures on behalf of whole families and organisations.

Peter Moulton

Addressing last night’s gathering, Concerned Citizens members Betty Ebanks and Peter Moulton offered a separate analysis, minimising most of  the arguments.

“We struck out every one of the duplicates,” Ms Ebanks said. “There was a single page that had the possibility of a signature for a whole family. We removed all the names.

“We could not identify any anomaly where someone signed on behalf of others. It was said there were first initials and no last names, but each was checked against registered voters. Where some had signed in capital letters, some people cannot do cursive handwriting, and we didn’t feel we had the right to disenfranchise those who wanted to take part.

“Some were illegible,” she observed as a complaint. “Does a person’s handwriting determine whether they exist or not? There were only 95 of those, and I wonder if that means that some people in high places are only figments of our imagination.”

Finally, only eight children had signed the document, appending their ages – between 11 years and 15 years – and insisting that “it is our road too “.

The final tally of names on the petition, which extended to 372 pages, and without 69 duplicates, totalled 4,116, Mr Moulton said. The rolls included 3,748 registered voters and residents, and 368 visitors. Most signatories came from West Bay, closely followed by George Town. Bodden Town came a distant third.

Of Cayman’s estimated 54,400 population, 6.9% signed the document, he said, while 8.9% of the population 18 years old or more, signed. The West Bay and George Town signatories together formed 77% of the 4,116 total.

“What are you going to do now?” asked longstanding activist Capt Bryan Ebanks, head of the Save Cayman group.

“The petition has been ignored, but the premier has only the power that you give him. We are taught to wait four years to express our feelings, but we cannot afford that. Until you use the power that you have, you are serving the politicians, they are not serving you,” he said, turning the frustration back on the gathering, calling for volunteers to demonstrate.

“Your voices mean nothing unless you are willing to stand up and get out there,” he said. “Only warm bodies in the streets of George Town will make a difference.”

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