Privately-owned land sought for cemetery

The Ministry of District Administration, Works and Gender Affairs is seeking privately-owned land in Bodden Town for a new cemetery.

A site search of the area undertaken by the Lands and Survey Department has determined there is no land available on the market which could be used for a new cemetery.

The Ministry is now identifying suitable privately-owned land in the Bodden Town area, with the intention in the near future of discussing with respective owners whether they would be prepared to sell land for this purpose.

‘We welcome any suggestions of suitable land from residents. The location of new cemeteries is a sensitive subject and local residents deserve to be consulted before any decisions are taken,’ stated a press release from the Ministry.

For years, the government has been unsuccessful in finding suitable land in Bodden Town for a new cemetery.

In 2004, land off Lake Destiny Drive in Bodden Town was earmarked for the cemetery. However, the land is low lying and it was decided to vest it instead to the National Housing Development Trust.

At that time, former MLA Osbourne Bodden said government was purchasing about 75 to 100 feet of land at the back of the cemetery. He said this would take care of burial needs for the next 15 to 20 years based on the rate of deaths in the district.

Retired caretaker Freddy Watler said he told the government years ago the cemetery was full.

At that time, a number of vaults were damaged during excavation carried out to squeeze more vaults into the cemetery, Mr. Watler said.

Bodden Town residents again became upset when recent work damaged vault covers and headstones in the cemetery, located across the road from the Bodden Town Police Station.

The Department of Environmental Health has instructed the Public Works Department to construct 16 more single vaults at the cemetery. The work should take until the end of August to complete. Some of the equipment being used is rented from third parties but none of the work is being subcontracted, stated the Ministry.

As to the construction of double vaults, the Ministry said it was not presently under consideration but an overall review of the cemetery is to be conducted.

Cemeteries in Cayman are located on beach land above the high water mark. This is the case in Bodden Town.

Many years ago, when the islands’ population was smaller, beach locations were probably selected for cemeteries due to the relative ease with which vaults could be dug.

But the supply of beach land is now low. Much of it has already been developed and developable beach land is very expensive compared to inland parcels, the Ministry stated.

Beach land is also vulnerable to sea surge, like that sustained by the Bodden Town cemetery during Hurricane Ivan.

The release further stated that there are 15 cemeteries in the Cayman Islands that have significant spare capacity.

The Bodden Town cemetery has remaining capacity for 36 single vaults, including the 16 vaults currently under construction.

The West Bay cemetery has capacity for 68 more vaults before reaching its maximum and Boatswain Bay and North West Point cemeteries have the capacity for more than 240 vaults.