Activists: ‘Road worth $600M’

A portion of West Bay Road through the Seven Mile Public Beach and the “surrounding area” may be worth $600 million, according to a group of local activists.  

Members of several groups opposed to the West Bay Road closure; as well as the Barkers and Salt Creek land swaps and the establishment of a new landfill in Bodden Town met Thursday in West Bay to discuss the issues. 

The meeting featured several speakers who blasted the proposed projects, as well as the government’s relationship with the Dart Group in the ForCayman Investment Alliance, which is driving 
the land swap proposals.  

Group member Mervin Smith, a West Bay resident, said there was no published information regarding beach access in Barkers once the land swap occurs. He said there was also no information about how the closure of a 4,200-foot section of West Bay Road would affect current beach access in those areas. 

“We like what we got and we want to keep it that way,” he said.  

Mr. Smith said valuations commissioned by him and his associates revealed that the section of West Bay Road the Dart group is interested in is worth $600 million. He said the Salt Creek and Barkers pieces of land were worth around $70 million each, adding that this coupled with duty and other concessions would mean that the Dart Group would be getting $1.1 billion in value from the deal, while giving up only $100 million. 

Dart already owns the land on both sides of West Bay Road in the disputed section. The government said it is giving up the road because it is needed in order to make development in the area feasible. The move is expected to aid the development of a four star hotel.  

The total value of all real estate transactions in the Cayman Islands in 2011 was $632 million. 

Mr. Smith told the audience that the Barkers National Park would be compromised under the agreement. He said this would affect the way of life that Caymanians have enjoyed for generations. 

“What we are giving up as part of the deal is the part of Barker’s where we have camped on the beach and we are getting some swamp land in return. There is going to be a gravel trail and canals – that need to be dredged – separating the properties,” he said. “It seems that someone does not want Caymanians to access their property.” 

Other speakers at the event included Captain Brian Ebanks who said the work to begin the West Bay Road closure had already begun, despite a government review not being complete. He said he was concerned about $5 million given to the government as part of the 2011/12 budget by the Dart group of companies, which he called a “gift that came at a convenient time”. 

“They are giving us money during the review process for the road,” he said, noting that Caymanians should stop accepting gifts without accepting that there will be a price to pay. “They are doing too much preaching about what their gifts. We have to be careful here?” 

In his remarks during the meeting, North Side Member of the Legislative Assembly Ezzard Miller told attendees that he wanted to see an invoice for the $5 million the government received from Dart during the review process for the road, adding that the agreement between the “For Dart Alliance” as he called it, was not a good one for the Cayman Islands. 

Ezzard Miller

Ezzard Miller addresses the audience at a public meeting Thursday night. – PHOTO: STUART WILSON

1 COMMENT

  1. What??!! 600 Million. Please show some proof of these valuations if you are going to make public claims like this. Then add two pieces of land at 70 million each and all of a sudden its worth 1.1 billion. I am no Accountant, but someone needs to double check their arithmetic. Oww wait, then they say Dart already owns the land on both sides of the road. So if Dart already owns the property, how are the Caymanian people GIVING UP 600 million with 4,200ft of road? Is there gold buried underneath this small stretch of road that is less than 1 mile long?

    It seems to me that politicians that have been sitting on their butts for the last 3-1/2 years doing absolutely NOTHING, now intend to get themselves reelected by spreading fear and misinformation. Nothing wins an election better than making you afraid of it, and telling you who’s to blame. Sadly many people will jump on the band wagon without so much as a second thought. Before you listen to these politicians like Mr. Miller and stand up in protest, ask yourself, what have they proposed to make Cayman better? Have they proposed a single idea that would create more jobs and put Caymanians to work? Have they worked to bring this small community together or will they prosper in our division? It must be an election year!

  2. Liberalkman

    I have read more than my fair share of editorials in Cayman. None have been put any better that yours. Its hard to believe that political association is stronger than any other emotion I know.

  3. 600 Million, yeah right. Go ask the Government Chief Valuer what a road is worth, especially if the government want to take it rather that swap it and the answer will be 0. I know this as I have numerous letters from him setting out this stance. If a real valuer put 600 Million on this road I worry for his insurer and his company because he will be sued for all he’s got.

  4. 600m is just ridiculous. Looks like someone has looked at what is for sale at the moment (160,000 a linear foot on Boggy Sands road for a ‘perfect’ development plot on the beach) and multiplied it by the entire length of road. They’ve only forgotten that ‘for sale’ prices in Cayman are never acheived (or might be 3 years from now when prices are up), and that Dart owns pretty much most of the land already. All hes buying is the bit of the jigsaw to connect it. Its hugely valuable, but get real, its not 600m, especially not if Government actually wants a deal, not just to hold Dart to ransom.

    Lets see the basis on which these commissioned valuations were done. As confused said if any of those on island have put 600m on the road, they should be kicked out of CASE or whoever regulates them.

  5. What do people expect? Leaders of a country who when they leave office go fry chicken for a living – Leaders who talk about education, poverty and hunger and yet most of these leaders are world ignorant, dependent on Gov’t jobs for a living and obese. When you can’t string two proper sentences together how serious should people treat these so-called leaders of Cayman? Class and ex-pat warfare to solidify their status as the humble voice of the Cayman people . By their logic and that of their followers, someone is always out to take advantage of them. Oppression by the fill in the blank this year. Particularly disturbing is to have some of these so-called learned Gov’t men comment on Dart’s International Financial Operations as if they had one iota of understanding. Passing economics at John Gray high-school does mean you understand the mechanisms of world finance. It will, however, give you the basics for running the register at a chicken restaurant.

  6. Even if this valuation, amounts to 600,000,000 dollars, the government deals with the Dart Group entity in order to bring sufficient revenue into the country, favors 1 man over the entire business community of the Cayman Islands, and that is not fair.

    Yes, jobs will be created, but with the amount of land Dart owns, the deals may be paving a way for a Dart-UDP monopoly, which will one day bite us. Moreover, people need to understand that whenever government supports the creation of a monopoly versus the business and market community of the islands, and shows favors to a few, that allows them to control price and costs on the island, and allow them to pay cheap wages. So Caymanians will get jobs, but not well paid, and at the mercy of a single entity.

    Another thing: Whenever government willfully receives large amounts of cash and wealth from a single entity, it is harder to prosecute that entity if they should decide to break the law! The temptation of corrupt deals is real.

    So my reasons for opposing the Dart-UDP deals may seem different from the other protestors, but is a valid concern.

  7. TO BODDEN:

    I couldn’t agree with you more.

    TO HMS:

    I take umbrage at your disparaging and sarcastic remarks about the Cayman leaders/people. I can string two sentences together, thank you very much. We’re not all dumb natives, you know. Some of us have had as good an education as you have had, or better.

    You need to show more respect in another man’s country. If I went to your country, wherever you might be from, and made remarks like that, would you like it? I think not. Yet, you’ve chosen to live here.

    It just goes to show you the arrogance of some of the expatriate community.

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