Public meeting highlights proposed dock, dredging and crime
Bodden Town residents were urged Monday night to sign petitions and march if they think it necessary to show their opinions on the proposed East End port project and the proposed dredging in North Sound.
The call to march came from Bryan Ebanks, who shared his opinions on the economic damage and environmental effect any dredging in North Sound would cause.
Close to 60 people attended a public meeting at the James Manoah Bodden Civic Centre, called by district MLA Anthony Eden. Mr. Eden spoke briefly about current issues, including crime, and said if the proposed port is built in East End, it would “forever change the way of life as we know it.”
His biggest concern was the destruction that a hurricane would cause when interacting with an inland water basin of the size developers want for the port.
“We have to be careful when we trouble nature,” Mr. Eden warned, going on to speak about the proposed dredging in North Sound. There was a reason Caymanian forefathers did not trouble that peaceful body of water, he said. “Once an asset like this is gone, it’s gone forever.”
But it is crime that has the greatest potential to destroy these islands and the economy, Mr. Eden said. He spoke about the millions of dollars voted for police personnel and equipment but continued: “If we don’t get back to our family units, knowing where our children are and who they are with, it’s a waste of time and money.”
Mr. Ebanks, referred to as Captain Bryan because of his experience with vessels and taking tourists out in the North Sound, said people have the power to dictate what they want from their representativeness.
He pointed out that the leader of the country, Premier McKeeva Bush, was going out to look for new things to stimulate the economy.
But Cayman already has an economy based on the North Sound and trips to Stingray City, he said. It is not only West Bay boat captains who benefit; gas station operators, bus and taxi drivers and small shop owners all earn money from the North Sound, he said.
If the reef in the North Sound is breached, the national treasure known as the Sand Bar and Stingray City will probably disappear, he said.
Mr. Ebanks also warned that taking 300 feet out of the reef would mean that with the next hurricane there would be nothing to stop the force of waves. With the destruction of mangrove, the barrier reef is Cayman’s last defence, he said.
March if necessary
If people think they should march to show their disapproval, then they should march, Mr. Ebanks asserted. Some people think such action would make foreign investors run away, but that was not true.
He said foreign investors like it when people stand up; that shows the country is a democracy and not a place a dictator can take over.
Leader of the Opposition Alden McLaughlin detailed the petition Mr. Ebanks is helping to circulate about the North Sound proposed dredging. It takes a reasonable position, he said.
It does not say no to dredging, but asks for an environmental impact assessment and an economic impact study and then a referendum.
On the subject of crime, Mr. McLaughlin said the new Constitution created a National Security Council, which includes the governor, premier, leader of the opposition, two ministers, commissioner of police, attorney general and deputy governor. He called it a very powerful body but said the current government has downplayed its role, taking the position that crime is a matter for the governor. He pointed out that the governor is bound to accept the advice of the council, except on operational and staffing matters.
Mr. McLaughlin revealed that legislators were briefed weeks ago on a report by the National Security Council, which has not yet been made public.
He said the report was well-researched and thought out, but it did not address an immediate plan to deal with the crime that faces people every day.
One aspect of the problem, he indicated, is that people don’t want to accept that Cayman has changed — and in most cases, not for the better.
East End MLA Arden McLean primarily addressed issues relating to the proposed man-made port in his district, which he said was really a plant to quarry fill.
He said that if government does not spend $200 million to build roads to accommodate traffic, the traffic will come through Bodden Town. Digging to a depth of 60 feet has the potential of destroying the Island’s largest fresh water lens, he pointed out.
And if the port were built and attracted even two cruise ships, that would mean transporting the passengers who would board and depart the ships here. Cayman does not have the facilities for moving 6,000 people in one day, he said.
“As long as I am blowing the breath of life I am going to fight [East End Seaport developer] Joe Imparato. He is not coming to East End to destroy East End’s way of life,” Mr. McLean said.