Future of Lions Centre mulled

The Lions Club of Grand Cayman held its first fundraising breakfast since Hurricane Ivan last Saturday at the Lions Centre.

Lions president Gordon McLaughlin said the Club intends to once again start holding the breakfasts on a monthly basis at the Lions Centre.

Because of heavy damage to the facility sustained during Hurricane Ivan, however, other larger events, including such mainstays as the Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business Expo, cannot definitively be planned for the venue at this time.

The facility was subjected to five feet of storm surge during Ivan, and wind damage as well.

Between the damage to building and the loss of the venue’s sound and other equipment, the total damage cost could approach $1 million, Mr. McLaughlin indicated.

The Club is weighing its options on what to do with the facility, but is leaning toward making significant improvements over a phased time period.

Right now, progress on the plans is stalled for a reason that has become very familiar in Cayman.

‘We’re still waiting on the insurance settlement,’ said Mr. McLaughlin, explaining the delay in rebuilding.

Even without Ivan, however, the Lions saw a need to make major improvements to the facility.

‘We already had preliminary plans drawn up,’ said Mr. McLaughlin.

Chief among the improvements was a plan to enclose the whole facility, which currently is an open-aired venue with a roof.

High temperatures in the Lions Centre, especially during the summer months, make the venue uncomfortable for patrons at certain highly attended events.

Mr. McLaughlin said the main structure of the Lions Centre survived the Hurricane fairly well, except for the northeast corner.

One plan would have the Club make basic repairs to the structure and restroom facilities so that smaller, limited events could be held there while improvements began.

The Club would demolish the front building of the facility where its meeting room is located and rebuild that structure, although not necessarily in the same place.

The cost of the improvements of the Lions Centre would exceed the insurance settlement, but until the Club decides on how much improving they want to do, the project’s financing process cannot begin, Mr. McLaughlin said.

In the meantime, the Club was ‘very pleased’ with the turnout for its breakfast last Saturday.

‘The breakfast might have been attended a little too well,’ joked Mr. McLaughlin, noting that glitches in the cooking equipment caused long lines.

‘We’ll have those all fixed up by the time of the next breakfast on the 26th of February, though,’ he promised.