Historic tree relocation set

A decades-old guinep tree in front of the West Wind Building on Harbour Drive will be relocated to allow for extensive renovations and upgrades to the building.

Guinep tree

A shirt, tie, trousers and a Cayman Islands flag are tacked to the guinep tree in front of the West Wind Building to protest the trees scheduled relocation. Photo: Jewel Levy

IHC Properties, the owner of the building said it would require a rare and expensive procedure to relocate the tree.

‘The decision to move this Meliococcus Bijugatus or guinep tree was made in order to preserve this historically important icon for future generations,’ IHC Properties stated in a press release.

Some residents, however, are unhappy the tree will be removed.

A shirt, necktie, pants and a Cayman Islands’ flag have been tacked to the tree in a form of protest that has grabbed the attention of local residents.

‘This is terrible,’ said tour operator Durl Ebanks, who thinks the old tree is too fragile to move.

Mr. Ebanks said he was told by his 70-year-old father Fletcher Ebanks that that when he was a little boy, he used to go up on Eddie Parson’s front porch – where the West Wind Build now stands – to collect guineps.

When the West Wind Building was built, Mr. Ebanks said Norberg Thompson, Benson Ebanks, Truman Bodden and Burkley Bush left the tree there and built around it.

‘That old tree has a lot of historical and sentimental value to the people of this island and there must be something that the owners can do to save it,’ Mr. Ebanks said.

IHC does plan to save the tree, but says it cannot be left where it is, for reasons that even go beyond the renovation work.

Hundreds of birds roost in the tree, and their droppings make using the front door of the building difficult.

‘Unfortunately, in its current location, the area at the tree’s base is becoming both unsanitary and unsafe for pedestrians,’ the IHC press release stated.

‘It was felt that a move to a new location would be beneficial to both the surrounding area and the health of the tree.’

The tree will first be moved to a temporary site until a future home is determined.

‘That location will take into account the future growth of the tree, so it can be enjoyed for many years to come,’ IHC properties stated.

However, some people like the tree where it is.

As a tour operator Mr. Ebanks said he highlights the history of the old tree when he takes cruise ship passengers around the island.

The National Trust’s Denise Bodden said the Trust is happy to see public concern for old trees on the island.

‘Many of these trees have become landmarks and while many of these trees island-wide have been destroyed, one of the more severe destructions that should really be considered as well is the destruction of endemic ironwood and the Cayman mahogany, which are not only of environmental value, but also historical significance to these islands,’ she said.

‘In general we need to strive towards to preservation and protection of our native and endemic trees,’ said Ms Bodden.

IHC Properties said that to make sure the relocation project is addressed with the professional expertise it deserves it has enlisted the services of West Indian Club Nursery, which has been responsible for the design and construction of numerous public parks and public landscaping projects.

‘The nursery has accumulated a vast expertise in the movement and transplanting of large trees similar to the one in question,’ stated the IHC Properties release. ‘The delicate process will be overseen by the professional staff of the nursery this coming weekend.

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