Land has been acquired in East End for affordable housing.
Communications, Works and Infrastructure Minister Arden McLean noted in his budget debate in the Legislative Assembly that the Leader of Government Business had acquired eight acres for affordable housing in East End and identified an additional 14 for future purchase.
‘We just sent out notices to the adjoining landowners for 56 lots under the government low cost housing scheme,’ he said.
‘We are now planning to go to East End to showcase the subdivision and sign people up. And we know that other people also want to do similar things in East End,’ he said.
Other Eastern Districts construction plans also include a fully equipped seniors’ home adjacent to the existing one in East End, paving of the East End farm road and the Hutland road and completion of paving along the Queens Highway and the road to Kaibo, once water pipes have been laid.
Planned road construction will also extend John McLean road westward.
‘North Side farmers need farm roads – these are now being gazetted,’ said Mr. McLean.
The reasoning for the increased road construction lies in a push from government to support Cayman’s agricultural sector.
‘We are not trying to destroy the environment, we are trying to ensure Cayman has a reliable source of food. We need to be more self-sustaining, grow a little more. While I may not have supported it in the past, given global food prices we need to open these lands so don’t need to be as dependent on outside food sources.’
Other roads discussed included the extension of the Linford Pierson highway though what is known as the Ironwood forest behind the University College of the Cayman Islands campus.
‘It is unfortunate that those who do oppose this road did not have all the information,’ he said.
‘Given no alternatives to save the forest, at least I would save the government land there and pass it over to the National Trust.’
He cited the importance of private landowners, who can come forward and the government can buy the land from them, as in the case of Barkers park, which is expanded every year.
‘We can’t stop people from building on private land but if they offer it up we will buy it and give it over to the National Trust,’ he said.
‘There is a forest behind the Seventh Day Adventist School that was saved by Mr. Nixon and the orchid society this way when it was being threatened,’ he said.
‘I don’t want to destroy our country – a decision is yet to be made and in the meantime, we have plenty of roads to build, including the East-West arterial,’ he said.
He stressed his desire to open up those lands, ‘So young Caymanians can own a little piece of this rock. I would like to see young Caymanians owning their own homes – that would be the legacy I would like to leave.’
Mr. McLean also praised the National Roads Authority for its work on ongoing roads projects.
‘There is not a lot of gratitude for the work they do, some mornings my ears are on fire, you will hear much complaining on the talk shows, but as soon as it is over not one person calls to say thanks,’ he said.
‘That is hard work for those guys, they are out there labouring for this country yet they are cursed, and decried – have a little patience, where you are going is still going to be there, these guys are working as fast as they can.’
Mr. McLean said the Ministry had just completed a windscreen survey of road conditions
‘For 30 years we have done nothing. We are looking at some $100-million if we were to tackle this right now, as a result of neglect,’ he said.
‘No government can go ahead and do it all at once but everyone wants good roads to drive on.’
Mr. McLean also provided updates on other projects his ministry has been overseeing and is planning in the coming year.
These include continued construction of the Savannah seawall, the first section of which has already gone to tender, a concrete replacement for the Gun Bay boat ramp and jetty, and construction of a safe viewing platform at the Blowholes.
He also discussed plans for Cayman’s cemeteries
‘We are embarking on a paradigm shift in doing pilot projects for a two vault stack system,’ he said.
‘We have a finite amount of land, and need to utilise it properly. The funeral homes are all on board, now we will be able to see whether or not people are receptive,’ he said.
‘With regard to cremation, I would promote and support it, although I am not going to do it through government but will let the private sector drive changes.’
Discussing the revitalisation of George Town intended to make it a unique place tourist and locals will admire Mr. McLean remarked that the streets have never been so clean.
‘Nobody notices because it is clean – just in the case of Batabano, by Monday morning everything was back to normal,’ he said.
He said attractive new street furniture and signage is on order, to complement the work already done including a facelift of the area in front of the town clock, and preservation and restoration of a historic home in the town centre.
Improved amenities for Grand Cayman residents also include completion of a new 4000-square foot Savannah post office, which can also be used as an alternate sorting facility if there is a problem in George Town, and commencement of construction on two new vehicle licensing offices, one serving the Eastern Districts to be opened next to the Bodden Town police station, and one serving George Town now being built off the Linford Pierson Highway.