November 23, 2020

ROAD TO CLOSE 2013

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The Marriott Courtyard hotel

West Bay Road will not close until January 2013, and only after Dart Realty completes the Batabano extension to the Esterley Tibbetts Highway.

In addition, a new spur will link the completed road to Reverend Blackman Drive, easing traffic circulation as it arrives in the district from the Batabano extension.

Speaking in the wake of a Wednesday agreement among Dart Realty, central government and the National Roads Authority, clearing the way for roadworks and associated refurbishment of the old Marriott Courtyard hotel, the company’s Chief Operating Officer Jackie Doak said the pact “was not an agreement to close the road,” but rather to enable work to start.

“What we are doing now,” she said, “is employing 30 people to start clearing the land”, In another two weeks, work would begin in earnest as heavy equipment starts to arrive “and you’ll see traffic start to pick up”.

Construction will proceed at both ends of the 9,000-foot extension, taking about 12 months to reach the Cayman Islands Yacht Club,” at which point we will close the road and start the hotel,” Ms Doak said.

The Wednesday agreement was signed by Ms Doak, Cabinet Secretary Orrett Connor and Troy Whittaker for the National Roads Authority. In exchange for Dart’s promised expenditure of $40 million, government will grant $24 million in duty waivers to the company, although gaining the full benefit of the concessions will require additional spending up to $350 million.

Part of the larger $1.5 billion, 30-year Dart-government ForCayman Alliance, construction will require closure of half-a-mile of West Bay Road between Trafalgar Place and the yacht club. Traffic will be re-routed onto the Esterley Tibbetts Highway while the hotel will be converted into a four-star beachfront property. Full access to Public Beach will be retained through bike paths, walking trails and parking areas.

Jackie Doak of Dart

Expanded amenities, extending northward, will include kiosks, volleyball and football pitches, bars, restaurants, cabanas, shaded sitting-out areas and toilets.

Ms Doak said April was scheduled for “legal closure” of West Bay Road, meaning only that it will be a private rather than public thoroughfare, still offering full access.

Wednesday’s agreement also provided for a 13-week independent cost-benefit analysis of government‘s four-acre grant to Dart for the road closure and associated hotel refurbishment.

Scheduled to finish on 16 March, “it will be an independent review,” Ms Doak said, similar to KPMG’s London-mandated analysis of George Town port development under the recently signed Framework for Fiscal Responsibility.

“It will be bidded out, terms of reference approved and will reflect the value” of the exchange, “measured against the outcomes the government is trying to achieve,” the market value of the land versus the Dart-added worth.

In fact, pending completion of the review, she said, Wednesday’s agreement ‘is not a done deal. It may mean that Dart and government can move ahead, but if it’s bad, it could mean that we terminate the agreement. We believe, of course, it will validate the agreement.”
While the roadworks created only 400 temporary jobs, Ms Doak said employment opportunities would soar with the hotel.

“We have engaged a lot of island companies to build Esterley Tibetts Highway,” she said, “but the real employment will come when the hotel is up and running. it will need staff, landscaping and plenty of services. This today really just kicks off the economic stimulus, the economic recovery. Now that this is signed, it’s all going be there.”

After Christmas, she said, Dart would start to work on relocation of the George Town Landfill to Midland Acres, addressing the concerns of the Bodden Town-based Coalition to Keep Bodden Town Dump Free.

“That’s the next focus,” she said. “We have already started, and met with the Department of the Environment and the Department of Environmental Health. We will get this going as soon as possible and think it may take about four months to complete.”

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