Ezzard fears port project problems

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Independent MLA Ezzard Miller said Tuesday that he is not convinced any aspects of the proposed East End seaport development project were real, except for the developer’s determination to quarry the site and sell the fill for profit.

The North Side representative’s comments were made at a meeting held at the Craddock Ebanks Civic Centre to discuss the planned seaport,

Mr. Miller told the audience of about 80 people that he had refrained from commenting until he met with the developer, listened and asked questions. Through that process he concluded the seaport was not a project he could support or allow to happen.

He said he had asked if the developer, Joseph Imparato, would be prepared to put up a bond for $350 million in case something happened halfway through the project and it was not completed.

“He made it manifestly clear he was not prepared to do that because he could assure me it would be successful,” Mr. Miller said.

He encouraged people to go onto the project’s website and study it. After the developer digs the hole and sells the rock he then expects to invite investors, Mr. Miller said.

He referred to ads in the Caymanian Compass explaining the port proposal. What was missing, he said, were any statistics about the usage of present port facilities. The information he had was that the port is now being used at 30 per cent of its capacity and the average growth of use was one per cent per year, so the country had at least 40 to 50 years of usage of the George town port.

The North Side representative said he asked if Mr. Imparato had partners in the shipping business or any commitment from a cruise line.

Mr. Miller said he was told: “Once you build it they will come.”

The MLA said he was also concerned that the developer did not have a business plan to show how the port wold be successfully operated. He did not see any likelihood of the port being used as a cruise ship home port, partly because the cost of passengers’ airfare to get here would be almost as much as the cruise. He did not accept a cruise ship’s presence as a job opportunity for Caymanians, since cleaning the ship was a job for the ship’s crew. There were also issues with security, waste disposal and transporting supplies for the ship.

Use of the port as a transhipment centre was not realistic either, Mr. Miller said, because the area was too small.

Hydrocarbon storage as another feature of the project was just another name for storing gasoline and diesel, he said. Getting fuel to CUC would mean building a pipeline from East End to George Town with the inherent dangers of leakage.

The North Side MLA also referred to physical danger. He asserted that the threat of salt water intrusion into the middle of Grand Cayman is greater than the developer said. Once a storm surge comes over the ridge in East End, it’s coming to North Side, Mr. Miller predicted. That would affect the Botanic Park and the land where the blue iguanas are being released, he said.

Mr. Miller and East End MLA Arden McLean said they could not stop the proposed port project by themselves. But both indicated that if government has publicly committed itself to the project and they could not get the governor to stop it, they were prepared to go to London.

“We have to put up a human barrier to stop this project,” Mr. Miller said, adding that the day government brings the legislation for the port local representatives will need everyone on the steps of the Legislative Assembly Building:.

Mr. McLean spoke briefly about the environmental impact assessment process. He said people had a right to object to the project as much as they had a right to support it, once they knew the facts, but there were too many things not known. He said he was not in North Side to drum up any civil disobedience: “But if that is what it takes, that is what we will have to do.”

The biggest round of applause went to North Sider Ashton Smith, 89, who is a veteran of World War II.

“I stand firm that this thing shall not go through,” Mr. Smith said. He said people had to take care of the farmland in East End and North Side. He pointed to the height of the land in Savannah and how storm water washes over the Island from the south into North Sound.

“Don’t let those people with those dollars blind your eyes,” he said.

Bo Miller endorsed the comments about transhipment ports and said Cayman was now beholden to this type of project because past governments had not saved any money during the prosperous years.

Other members of the audience expressed concerns, with one man fearing that Caymanians were losing their country and this was just the beginning. Copies of a petition to the Governor, Premier and Cabinet asking that the project not be supported are being circulated throughout Grand Cayman, the MLAs said. Mr. Miller explained the petition forms will be labelled so that residents who are not registered voters can sign as well as registered voters.

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North Side MLA Ezzard Miller shares material with East End MLA Arden Mclean before the start of Tuesday night’s public meeting at the Craddock Ebanks Civic Centre.
Photo: Carol Winker
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7 COMMENTS

  1. Just another anti-anti-anti-development voice with no clue or vision toward the future prospects of Grand Cayman. Selling of the fill is how the project is funded, plain and simple. Build it and they will come. Just lead, follow or get out of the way.

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  2. I am not for or against this Port but can the honourable MLA say why would anyone in their right mind put up a bond of $350 million for a project that is being funded by themselves? Where did he get that figure from… are these people just pulling figures out of air and selling to the public… amazing these politicians who represent the people… makes me laugh

    On another point: Mr. Imparato – for clarity the Environment Impact Assessment should not be negotiated as claimed in previous article.. this assessment should be by an independent third party who has experince of doing similar assessments elsewhere in the World.

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  3. Wow, it’s incredible how versed Politicians are in such things as Environmental Impact and Business Planning. It’s funny how they can make all these dire predictions when a true study has not been completed and made public. The Port itself will initiate development in the area which will in turn create local opportunities for small businesses, Jobs as well as increased local property values. Not saying I am sure if this should happen or not, I need to hear more. One thing I know is that the government cannot afford to do it and it’s not a bad thing that a private entity is willing to fund the project. I think just as quickly as we oppose this we need to give the developer time to prove the need and realism of this with credible environmental impact studies as well a true business plan of action that will show its worth to the future of Cayman in the long run. If he cannot do this, then we should oppose it, if he can, we need to support it. I wonder if this really happens would the MLA’s put as much emphasis on things like making sure the fill is made available locally in lieu of exporting it, making sure that Caymanian are hired to do the work or it is Sub Contracted out to local Companies who hire Caymanians as well as insure that it is built in a way that will add additional protection for the surrounding areas in the event of natural disasters such as Hurricanes and Storm Surge. I’m sure Imperato’s pockets are deep enough to include things like this in his plan.

    I do agree that if you build it they will come, the one thing holding back our Cruise Ship industry is the fact that the ships cannot dock when they come to Cayman which means they have to shuttle passengers to shore. If they could dock, more passengers and crew would disembark and spend more time and money on Island. And it would be nice to have some of that money going to the east end instead of Georgetown. I can see a future where there are Cayman owned Restaurants, Novelty Shops, Dive Shops and all sort of small businesses in that area as well as a Market where locals could sell their products to tourists, this would bring a much needed spark of life to the East End and could eventually rival Georgetown, if we can work together and insure that the area is developed in true traditional Cayman Island Style this in the long run would be more attractive than Georgetown’s big city environment.

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  4. People said the same things about Camana Bay. It was going to be huge flop and a eyesore, destroying the environment, Dart was evil, yadda yadda ya. What it did was give Cayman’s economy the biggest boast in my lifetime, well over a billion dollars spent and still spending and its still providing opportunities for employment and business and will continue to for the next few decades.

    Lets not be blinded by ignorance for or against this project. True, Joe needs to do somemore homework but after everythings said and done, East End and Cayman on a whole will benefit. Who will do the paint the structure? Caymanians! Who will pour the concrete? Caymanians! Who will do the electrical and plumbing? Caymanians! Who will supply and bend the rebar? Caymanians! Who will truck the fill? Caymanians! Many, many opportunities will be created for Caymanians in just the building phase.

    This is something we should be supporting, not shooting down as it tries to get off the ground.

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  5. I CANNOT BELIEVE THE COMMENTS HERE!

    WHERE IS THE INTELLIGENCE!

    HOW CAN YOU DECIDE FOR OR AGAINST THIS PROJECT WHEN YOU ARE FED LITTLE INFORMATION ABOUT IT?

    BY ALL MEANS I AM NOT FOR THIS PROJECT! I AM ONE WHO HAS TO LOOK BEFORE HE JUMP!

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  6. Interesting comment "Bodden", criticizing others about to little info to make a decision, but you clearly have made yours. You must have info we do not have.

    What I do know is this island requires more development to stay alive.

    Embrace these developers that have a vision and use their own money to execute it.

    Tell your MLA you want a job and to work hard and add value to the society.

    Or just get out of the way and let stuff happen.

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  7. Please people let’s not let foolishness cause a missed opportunity. Clearly if someone is willing to put so much of his own into a project this big he must think the Cayman Islands is worth it. I can understand the fears of people, but holding onto the past can cause the world to pass us by. The days of Farms and Fisheries are gone. The island cannot survive of Coconuts and Red Snappers. We need more modern businesses to keep up with the times.

    Take a moment and think of the good this can do for our future and our children’s future. Raw undeveloped land will bring nothing to Cayman. It is beautiful and pristine but it is still just a swamp that not even local Cayman Banks are willing to invest into, they won’t even give a Caymanian a mortgage to by land in this area. So it take someone with deep pocket to give the area a start. Let’s not put him down. Let support and embrace his efforts, while doing everything we can to ensure these endeavors maintain the look and spirit of Traditional Cayman.

    Folks had the same concerns about Camana Bay, but look at thing of beauty it became, the developer clearly took care to insure it enhanced the island experience. This whole development in Highrock can give east enders something to be proud of, 7 Mile Beach and Georgetown shouldn’t have all the fun. What would be so bad about East End Village.

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