In my letter of March 29th, I suggested the possibility of it never being too late to learn. Education is about optimism and a willingness to reconsider. If ever there were a need for this it is now.
The Strategic Plan for the Cayman Islands; Vision 2008 titled appropriately, “Working together-to shape our future!”, one of Vision 2008s main intentions, titled “Developing in Harmony and Prosperity”, refers to public input, underlining “the participation of all stakeholders”.
It goes further to ensure the education of the public regarding the requirement for “growth management” in the Cayman Islands. In my reviewing of Vision 2008, it became evident to me that everyone in the Cayman Islands, the Government and the people, needs to seriously sit down and look again at this most important document. It is the blueprint for future development for many years to come. It follows that all other strategic plans owned by other entities, including developers, are subordinate to our National Strategic Plan. Further, that all development planning is referenced to it prior to any public consultation. The time has come to ensure that Vision 2008 is embedded in all development planning and in all our decisions regardless of economic pressures.
Fact and Fallacies
It concerns me greatly that some recent statements made by Dart Realty, are, in my opinion, not based on fact. The first is that for the hotel to succeed, it needs to have direct access to the beach, or else it could fail like others. I assume that she is referring to hotels such as the Hyatt, the Holiday Inn and the Marriott Courtyard. As far as I can recall, the Hyatt was one of the most vibrant hotels, which boasted beautiful landscaping, catering to many government and private functions, with seemingly contented guests. Hurricane Ivan in 2004, to the best of my recollection, was what caused its demise. I will admit that I am not a financial expert but I would suggest that this was also the main reason for the sad demise of the Courtyard Marriott.
Secondly, we all know that it was never the intention to replace any (or indeed, all of), the historic West Bay Road with another road. Caymanians are a very practical people and the plan was always to provide for two roads into and out of the West Bay district. To suggest otherwise is ridiculous.
Thirdly, another statement made to the Caymanian public by Dart Realty (repeatedly) is that in their view, the present plan is in the best interests of the Caymanian people. But surely, any plan that is truly so would be the outcome of a consultative process. Perhaps Dart Realty might care to provide us all with the consultative meetings that it had with the public that it claims the present plan is going to benefit. I say, “present plan”, because, of course, the one that has been presented by Dart Realty as a fiat accompli to the Caymanian people is one of many that its architects could create. I have outlined one such alternative plan, which they might care to consider. This may serve to resolve the present impasse. As noted above, Vision 2008 refers to the need for a consultative process. Clearly this has not occurred.
There really is a way forward. Plan your new hotel around these features: The West Bay Road will remain where it has for centuries except that the road will be re-positioned slightly more inland and will replicate that which exists in most countries of the world; that is, a seaside promenade road with a 10mph speed limit, multiple pedestrian crossings, and the “traffic calming” measures that are well known to highway engineers. This plan would provide for all of the positive features that Dart has been describing, while at the same time satisfying the wishes of thousands of Caymanians to retain what has always been a vehicular public right of way.
Dart has assured us that it wishes to be “positive”, “understood”, and “not feared”. Our Caymanian forefathers were hardy seamen who braved many storms in treacherous waters far worse than this present situation. Clearly, there is a way forward, but it is first and foremost through consultation and respect for the people of this country. If I have misunderstood anything or anyone, kindly enlighten me as I am always willing to learn.