Premier says organisations are destructive
Members of separate activist political groups in West Bay and Bodden Town agreed Tuesday that they would ‘occupy’ a section of West Bay Road along Seven Mile Beach as a last resort to prevent the closure of a 4,000-foot section of the street.
The closure is proposed as part of a construction and development plan between the Dart Group of companies and the Cayman Islands government known as the ‘For Cayman Investment Alliance’. Part of the agreement involves the relocation of West Bay Road to accommodate a resort development on the property of the now-vacant Courtyard Marriott and the extension of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway into West Bay.
Plans to ‘occupy’ the section of West Bay Road – similar to the Occupy Wall Street movement that sprung up in the US last year – have been threatened publicly before. During a mid-February public meeting in George Town, West Bay political candidate Paul Rivers urged individuals to “step up” and occupy the road if the Dart Group and government went ahead with plans for its closure.
“I’m not going to lay down in front of any bulldozer, but I may lay a few bulldozers down,” Mr. Rivers said in February. At the same meeting in February, North Side MLA Ezzard Miller threatened to “burn down” a Dart-sponsored park in his district if he heard company representatives “bragging” to him about it one more time.
On Tuesday, during a meeting with the local press at the George Town library, local activists said they supported Mr. Rivers’ call. “Paul isn’t going to be alone,” said Mervyn Smith. “We are not just willy-nilly going to allow this to happen.”
Mr. Smith said the ‘occupy’ option would be used as a “last resort”, but he said they would need to be convinced Premier McKeeva Bush and his government was listening to their concerns. West Bay Action Committee Chairman Henry Orman Morgan said Tuesday that there was no room for negotiation on the removal of the 4,000-foot section of West Bay Road.
“This is our road,” Mr. Morgan said. “Just please, leave it alone.”
Alice Mae Coe of the Concerned Citizens Group, also in West Bay, said that she would still like to meet and discuss matters with Premier Bush. However, she noted attempts to do so last month were rebuffed by Mr. Bush on 27 March.
According to a letter Mr. Bush send to Ms Coe: “The views and reasons for objecting to the road closure is a repetition of what you and the destructive groups you represent have previously stated and misrepresented on multiple occasions, and therefore, in light of other national priorities and urgent community needs across these Islands, the meeting that you have requested will come after other government business, based on my availability.”
Ms Coe said she was “offended” by the wording used in the letter and told the Premier so on Tuesday.
“You are blatantly wrong in making such a statement,” she wrote to the Premier’s office. “It is you, your government and the Dart group who have misled and misinformed the people of the Cayman Islands.”
The combined activist groups submitted a petition to Governor Duncan Taylor in December asking him not to assent to the removal of the West Bay Road section near the old Marriott hotel. Mr. Taylor basically said all such decisions should be left to the local government, not the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Mr. Bush’s office was contacted Tuesday about the activist groups’ press conference, but had not made an additional response by press time.
The groups will be holding a public meeting later today [Thursday] in the empty lot across from the West Bay Fosters store. The gathering is set for 7.30pm.