Kindly allow me to respond to the commentary titled “The Dart conundrum” in the Caymanian Compass Tuesday, 20 March, 2012, by Mr. Alastair Patterson.
In his commentary Mr. Patterson seems to have overlooked certain realities in respect of why over 3,000 registered voters signed a petition voicing their objection to the developer’s desire to close a sizable length of the West Bay Road. This was presented to the people of Cayman as a fait accompli where the For Cayman Alliance chose to do a presentation rather than a consultation with the Caymanian people.
Mr. Patterson, from his first paragraph onwards, appears to lump the thousands of Caymanians who signed the petition with persons who, in his view, are minded towards expressing “negative opinion” and “aspersions” towards the developer, as well as being “activists”.
The robust list goes on to include the likes of those who are being “encouraged by a few politicians to condemn the Dart Group (by) continually placing obstacles in their strategic plan and all for hollow politics and self-serving ambition” being “short sighted at best and mostly fuelled by ignorance”.
Perhaps Mr. Patterson might care to educate myself and the three thousand plus other Caymanians who signed the petition objecting to the developer’s strategic plan as to where exactly they figure in his litany of condemnation. Is it that Mr. Patterson does not consider our views important? Does the opinion of thousands of Caymanians mean nothing to him compared to the developer’s strategic plan? It all seems so very one-sided and indeed rather patronising towards my people. Such a broadside against so many Caymanians leaves me questioning the sincerity of the rest of the writer’s commentary, as well as wondering exactly how much this has done towards the realisation of the ideals he writes about, in particular the one about working “in unison, in an acceptable open partnership”.
Another desirable feature alluded to in the commentary is that of transparency. Mr. Patterson complains about the Dart Group, particularly its real estate development company, currently bearing the brunt of considerable negative opinion from sections of the Caymanian community. And yet nowhere that I can see in the commentary does he attempt seriously to explore, in the reasonableness of manner for which Caymanians are well known, the root causes for this negative opinion towards the developer’s plans. One is left to wonder if Mr. Patterson might feel uncomfortable that an honest exploration of these root causes might show the developer in question in a less than stellar light.
Yes, we do need development, but not at any cost, Mr. Patterson. And please wake up to the reality that times have changed and the Caymanian public is no longer minded towards remaining silent, as was the case 30 years ago, particularly in regard to development matters.
The manner in which the developer in question has approached the public has undoubtedly disappointed many and might be regarded as dismissive and high handed.
One might compare it to someone ordering a car for you and picking not only the make but all the options, then presenting it to you, and when you question it at all, being lectured as to why the car is good for you. It’s just a problem of “understanding” why it’s good for you.
Is the public’s disquiet something surprising? Like it or not, transparency and public consultation are two responsibilities that today’s developers must value highly in order to avoid a public relations disaster. For any developer to present to the public a “done deal” and then ask for their views after a sales presentation is preposterous to say the least. Where is the flexibility to accommodate the public’s preferences? Or does the developer think that this is superfluous?
Caymanians are now a highly educated populace. The old days of “keep your mouth shut we know what’s best for you” are long gone. Sadly,Mr.Patterson appears to have learned very little from the Caymanian people, which is a pity as there is much of value for him to learn. It’s never too late.