Rugby Club fight simmers on

Neighbours of the Cayman Islands Rugby Club say they are cautiously hopeful some of their complaints about late night partying and noise will be addressed by a recent decision forcing the club to stop serving alcohol at 11pm.

Mr. Haines

Mr. Haines

But the larger question of whether the two camps can peacefully co-exist in light of the Rugby club’s rapid expansion of recent years, remains unsettled, it appears.

Resident Berna Thompson-Cummins confirmed the group will object to planning applications the club has before the Central Planning Authority, at a CPA meeting 14 October.

Those objections relate to after-the-fact applications for planning approval of a tent, signage and a chicken-wire fence that have been erected at the club.

The residents will also meet with the Club’s landlords, Pirate Cove Estates, to outline their grievances.

On Wednesday, Rugby Club President Derek Haines expressed hope the club could resolve the dispute with neighbours, which raised its head at a Liquor Licensing Board meeting 13 September.

In response, the LLB placed the club on probation, ordering that the bar close by 11pm and that music not be played. This decision will be reviewed when the board next meets in December.

Mrs. Thompson-Cummins said the group will ‘wait and see’, before deciding on whether they again oppose the ongoing operation of the club’s liquor licence.

That is a move that will be fiercely resisted by the Rugby Club. ‘Our license is very important to us and we jealously guard it,’ said Mr. Haines, adding that revenue from bar sales is essential to many of the club’s community outreach programs.

He questioned whether the group of neighbours is really more concerned with the planning issues than issues pertaining to the liquor licence.

Sheila Mackenzie of Mary Read Crescent seemed to scotch that suggestion however. The earlier closing hour on Friday night – which, she said, seemed to be party night – would be a big help, she explained.
‘We’re happy so long as they don’t play loud music and have late night parties … but they keep getting louder year by year.’

Rugby Club President Derek Haines has urged visitors entering and leaving the club to not make undue noise, warning the club’s critics will be ‘watching the club’s activities like a hawk’.

‘They’ve invested a lot of money buying their houses and we’ve invested a lot of money in being there … What I would like to do is have us living side-by-side in balance,’ he said.

‘That said, if you have a sports club there, from time to time there is bound to be some sort of noise.

‘Wherever you live in the Cayman Islands, you put up with that sort of thing.’

Mrs. Mackenzie agreed residents will be keeping a very close eye on the club, but they have endured increasing noise from the club for years without complaint, she claimed.

‘We have done very little complaining in the past five-years. But when we don’t complain they do more and more. Then, when we turn around and complain about it, we are all of a sudden the bad guys.’

‘When we first moved here is was just a Rugby Club where rugby matches were played. The only sound was people cheering during rugby matches, which was fine. But then they started with fog-horns during matches and then, after that, they would play music during the games.

‘These days the problem is often not with the rugby but with all the events they hire the club out for, like the Z99 (radio) tug-of-war recently. That’s the point; they never used to do that before – what’s next?’

Mr. Haines highlighted the fact that the Rugby Club came to the South Sound location well before many of the neighbouring houses.

‘Cayman has grown tremendously in the last 30 years, as has our membership base,’ he said.

‘I want us to be able to live and play alongside one another. I hope that sort of feeling can come from the other side as well.

‘Cayman is a very small place and the growth of it means, perhaps, that being able to live in tranquillity, with absolutely nothing happening around you, is not likely to happen.’

Mrs. Thompson-Cummins wasn’t so conciliatory. ‘We have tolerated a lot over the last few years and we didn’t make a squawk but I think we’ve had enough now.’

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