An abandoned house on the right-hand side of Bodden Town Public Beach which has been a constant eyesore for the neighbourhood since Hurricane Ivan was torn down Friday.
According to Bodden Town MLA Osbourne Bodden, the woman listed as the homeowner purchased the property right before Ivan struck in 2004. Mr. Bodden said she lives in Taiwan, and does not appear to spend any time on island.
Police Constable Clifford Garcia, the community-policing officer for the area, said earlier this year that drug use in and around the home was becoming a problem.
‘It’s been a year and a half, two years now that we’ve been trying to find out a way to get that property cleaned up and get onto the owner of that property,’ Mr. Bodden said.
A road construction company teamed up with government departments in March to clean up the area around the house, but Cayman Islands law prevented the home from being torn down.
A few months later a decision was made to buy the land using compulsory acquisition, which allows the taking of private property for public projects. Since the owner has never been identified, Mr. Bodden said money from the sale would be held in escrow until such time as she could be located.
Money will be taken from the escrow account to pay for Friday’s demolition.
‘Any expenses incurred in cleaning it will be deducted from what we have judged to be the fair market value of the property,’ Mr. Bodden said. The purchase was believed to be in the neighbourhood of $200,000. Another piece of land on the left-hand side of the public beach was recently bought for $225,000.
The additional land will be used to expand the public beach area. Government will install a boat launch ramp in the area, and is also setting aside some land for cabanas and booths which local vendors can use to sell crafts.
‘It’ll be very eco-friendly construction — quite pleasing to the eye,’ Mr. Bodden said.
He said he’s still frustrated it took so long for the abandoned home to be taken down. Government money will go toward the purchase of the home, and certain legal requirements, such as advertising the acquisition in Taiwan also had to be met.
A private members’ motion Mr. Bodden brought to the Legislative Assembly earlier this year asked for tougher laws requiring home and land owners to keep their property up to certain standards of repair and tidiness.
‘If we had that now, this certainly would’ve been an easier process,’ he said.
There is a provision under the Planning Law which allows government to issue abatement notices that can eventually end in a property owner being taken to court. Maximum fines upon conviction are $200 initially and $10 per day if the land isn’t cleaned up.
In this case, with no way of locating the land owner, Mr. Bodden said that process simply didn’t provide an adequate solution.