Playtime over at Rugby Club

An ongoing dispute between the Cayman Islands Rugby Football Union and its neighbors claimed its first scalp Thursday – the club’s children’s playground.

Cayman Islands Rugby Football Union grounds on South Sound

A workman pulls down the childrens playground at the Cayman Islands Rugby Football Union grounds on South Sound Thursday. Photo: James Dimond

The club is removing the playground on the instruction of its landlord, after residents complained that the playground, along with tents, fencing and signs at the ground had no planning permission.

Residents have previously complained that the playground and other structures should never have been erected without planning approval and consent from the club’s landlord.

They say the playground is dangerously close to South Sound road and that the structures are taking up parking space at the club that is contributing to parking problems in the area.

In a statement, the club pointed out that the playground was protected by a high fence, and said it was extremely disappointed for the young families that make use of the playground.

Toy retailer Noah’s Ark initially installed the playground free of charge and on Thursday, one if its staff members returned to pull it down.

Noah’s Ark owner Paul Blount – whose children regularly use the playground – expressed disappointment that the dispute had spilled over to affect the children’s facilities.

‘The playground has been great for the whole community – both for the kids whose dads play rugby here and for the kids that live in the area,’ he said.

‘If kids have facilities like this to come to, where it is safe and fenced off from the road, it keeps them out of trouble. It’s also great exercise.

‘It’s a pity that is has come to this,’ he lamented. ‘We put this playground up for free, now we’re taking it down for free. We will be more than happy to come back and put it back up again, if they allow it.’

The club has applied for after-the-fact approval of the structures and is negotiating with its landlord about keeping the structures up, pending a decision by the Central Planning Authority.

‘The CRFU is working hard to resolve this issue amicably, with a view to replacing the playground on the property,’ the club said in a statement.

‘[The CRFU] have stated on numerous occasions the desire to live in harmony with its neighbors. It is the CRFU’s fervent hope that differences can be surmounted swiftly.’

The dispute first reared its head publically at a quarterly meeting of the Liquor Licensing Board 6 September, when residents opposed the renewal of the club’s liquor license, complaining of loud, late night parties at the club and breaches of both liquor and planning laws.

LLB Chairman Mitchell Welds placed the club on probations following that meeting. A decision on whether the club is allowed to retain its liquor license is expected at the board’s next quarterly meeting in December.