Arden: Hotel will benefit East End

A big condotel planned for Colliers will benefit East Enders, candidate Arden McLean told district residents last Monday night as he launched his campaign for the May General Elections.

Representing the district since 2000 and serving as Minister for Communications, Works and Infrastructure since 2005, Mr. McLean pointed to his achievements for East End and the whole of the Cayman Islands.

He said he had met with Michael Beggs, developer of the Islands Resort and Residences project, and told him he could not build a seven-storey structure – it had to fit the area. He also told him that East Enders must have first opportunity for any concessions at the resort.

Third, whoever gets the project to build must come to East End to sign up people who need work. Finally, Mr. McLean said he told Mr. Beggs he could not build any staff quarters, but must work with East Enders who have the property to build housing and rent it out.

‘Thus far he has not disappointed me,’ Mr. McLean told the crowd. ‘The last thing he has to do is come with the contractor and meet East Enders so they can sign up on the project.’

He said he had been criticised for not doing anything and spending too much money. He agreed his PPM Government had spent money ‘but you can see where it went.’

In the 20 years before 2005, only five miles of new roads had been built, he said. In his four years as minister, he had built over 12 miles of new roads, much of it four lanes wide. Previous roads were two-lanes and then people built alongside them. To expand, government had to buy their homes. But the way roads were built under his ministry, the land is there when future generations need road expansion.

He listed the numerous roads that had been completed and/or paved in the last four years, including the road on which his political opponent lives.

An important project for East End and anyone who drives around the island is the seawall at Clarinda Beach, the lower end of Bay and the Cemetery. Hurricane Ivan in September 2004 had damaged so much of the coastal road on the eastern end of Grand Cayman and so many homes that he had made the seawall a priority, along with repairing public facilities.

Some people were going around the district saying he did not give them the seawall construction job. But there is a process for awarding contracts and he would not circumvent it.

Besides, he revealed, the unsuccessful bid had been for $6.8 million. There had been six other bids and three of them were between $1.9 million and $2.2 million. They all had experience building walls, but only one was submitted with an East End company. Mr. McLean said that company was the one his ministry recommended.

He said he started affordable housing in the district and people could see the progress on the sub-division, which is located behind the primary school. The land was found in February 2008 and plans completed in February 2009, for 59 homes.

Mr. McLean admitted that one of his promises had not yet been fulfilled – a canteen for the primary school. ‘I stand accused and I am guilty.’ But it will be built over this summer, he said.

Citing his support of the school over the years, he said he was hurt by the recent evaluation report on it. ‘Somebody’s head has to roll’ for the school’s poor report, he declared. Children should not have to suffer because of a few individuals. He was doing something about it and had already met with the Minister for Education, Chief Education Officer and other senior administrators.

Mr. McLean said people had called and asked if fill would be available from the roadwork in the district. He had inquired and was told the fill was needed for road foundation. Later, he was told fill from another area was not suitable for the roads, so he gave out the names of persons who had asked for it. His political opponents went into yards and took pictures.

‘If you think you’re going to be a representative and don’t help your people, you’re making a mistake,’ he said. Mr. McLean described himself as an employee of the people who had delivered. He asked for four more years in which to serve.