Environmental Impact Assessment complete
The proposal to build a new port
facility in George Town now includes more than just two cruise berthing piers.
Back-bench legislator Cline Glidden
Jr., who heads the Ministerial Council for Tourism, confirmed Wednesday that
the project scope is expanding.
“The government is now looking at
much more than just two piers,” he said. “We’re looking at building something
that will make Cayman more of a destination than just creating berthing piers.”
Although Mr. Glidden said he could
not be more specific about how the proposal had expanded, he commented earlier
this week that the project was “about $200 million”, which is some $50 million
more than it was announced to cost when the Port Authority of the Cayman
Islands signed the Memorandum of Understanding with Dart Enterprises
Construction Company – better known as DECCO – in April.
Unconfirmed reports suggest,
however, that the project will now include a ‘mega yacht’ marina.
With regard to DECCO, Mr. Glidden
dismissed rumours that the construction company had dropped out of the
negotiations for a final contract. He said the delay in reaching a final
agreement after signing a Memorandum of Understanding in April was due to the
complexity of the negotiations.
“We’re committed to getting this
done,” he said. “We’re happy with the progress that’s been made.”
One element of progress DECCO has
completed is the required environmental impact assessment report.
DECCO was selected as the
development partner last November and has commissioned studies and
investigations required for the Environmental Impact Assessment Report. According
to a press release issued on behalf of the government Wednesday, that report and the investigation work were
completed by the C. D. Howe Company – of Canada and Cayman – and the Danish
Hydraulics Institute, assisted by specialist subcontractors.
“The [Environmental Impact
Assessment] included the analysis of existing data and studies and a large
number of special investigations and studies, computer simulations, surveys,
etc., with respect to the Project site and areas affected,” the press release
The addition of a new element of
the project would help the financial feasibility for the developer. Premier
McKeeva Bush has said in the past that the Cayman Islands would not have to pay
for the construction of the berthing facility and that the developer would fund
the project. An agreement with the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association to pay
a certain fee for every cruise passenger that comes to port would help
guarantee repayment to the developer.
However, those fees would not be
enough to amortise repayment of a $150 million to $200 million project over a
reasonable amount of time.
Mr. Glidden said that the revenue
generated by the new elements of the project would help offset the development
Assuming a final agreement can be
reached fairly soon, it is hoped that construction on the project could start
before the end of this year, Mr. Glidden said, adding that it would take up to
24 months to complete the project. The government is still hopeful it can open
the new cruise berthing facility in time to open it at the Florida-Caribbean
Cruise Association’s annual conference in November 2012.
Mr. Glidden said all the
stakeholders involved “share the view that the direction, which should be taken
with cruise tourism, is to go forward guided by a commitment to be environmentally
responsible, economically viable; a direction which gives priority to national
interests and local businesses and ultimately, one which protects Cayman’s
leadership position by creating a ‘destination within a destination.”