Cemetery Beach in Bodden Town
is a mess.
And according to Cayman’s
Recreation, Parks and Cemeteries Unit General Manager John Jackson, it’s
technically no one’s responsibility to clean it up.
The relatively newly-formed parks
unit, created in 2006, has about 20 field staff. They maintain a total of 68
acres around Grand Cayman. Their clean up
duties include all public beaches, cemeteries, public parks, some of the public
beach access trails, and George Town’s
Central Business District – which gets tidied up each day between 5am and 7am.
Mr. Jackson said the parks unit is
cleaning about 30 acres a week, which works out to about one-third of an acre
per day, per staff member.
From time to time, the parks unit
will get requests to clean up sections of beach that are on privately owned
land. Typically, Mr. Jackson said they have to decline.
“We have a limited resource of
human capital,” he said. “We have to tell them no.”
The Recreation, Parks and
Cemeteries Unit is well aware that many privately owned beachfront properties
here are awash in seaweed and trash – not just the one in Bodden Town.
“Just look at Barker’s Beach (in West Bay),
it’s a mess,” he said.
Private sections of beach managed
by tourist resorts are generally kept clean by those businesses. But the more
remote beach areas, where most tourists don’t tend to travel, are often left
alone for months.
Case in point is Bodden Town’s
Cemetery Beach. Right now, the parks unit cleans
up neighbouring Russell Beach and the cemetery itself. However, behind the
cemetery is a section of privately-owned land, which is essentially vacant.
Those properties are the ones that
are being neglected, Mr. Jackson said.
Private landowners will often point
out that, according to Cayman Islands law, all
beach area between the high and low water mark is publicly owned land.
“But the trash always piles up
above the high water mark,” Mr. Jackson said with a laugh.
Bodden Town Cemetery
Beach is littered with bottles and paper trash, but the majority of it is
just seaweed and other ocean-based algae that wash up from time to time. Mr.
Jackson said that generally needs to be attended every few weeks.
To handle that type of work, Mr.
Jackson said Recreation, Parks and Cemeteries would need another dozen staffers
at least, which is not likely to happen given government’s current budget
Mr. Jackson believes a broader
solution to the problem needs to be considered eventually.
“There’s no national beach clean up
plan,” he said. “(The parks unit) can’t really get into the enhancement of our
facilities. Right now, all we do is clean.”
With the annual Earth Week beach
clean up scheduled for this Saturday, Mr. Jackson said the parks unit has agreed
to help out as best it can – without the ability to pay overtime or give time
in lieu to staff members.
When volunteers pick up trash along
the beaches and leave full bags tied up by the roadside this weekend, Mr.
Jackson said all 16 available parks unit staff will go out in trucks to pick up
the bags on Monday. Last year, bags from the Earth Week clean up lingered for a
week in some places.
The Cayman Islands
Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a beach and roadside cleanup between the
hours of 7am and 11am Saturday, 17 April. Individuals and companies are
encouraged to sign up for the event. To register on-line go to