Editorial for 17 April: Stop the foolishness

Last week, local activists gathered once again to oppose the
government’s proposed deal with the Dart Group which would, among other things,
lead to the closure and transfer of a section of West Bay Road.

One of the activists said that valuations commissioned by
him and his associates indicated that the section of West Bay that is being
transferred to the Dart Group is worth $600 million.

The value of all real estate sales, including home,
condominiums, commercial buildings and raw land last year was $632 million and
we have people trying to tell the public that a 4,200 foot section of road
corridor is worth $600 million?

Let’s assume that the activists are correct in their
estimate that the length of the road going to the Dart Group is 4,200 feet
(which is debatable). Let’s assume that the road corridor is 60 feet wide
(which it isn’t). If that is the case, Dart is getting 5.78 acres of land and
the activists would have us believe this land is worth more than $100 million
an acre.

Last week, the local activists complained to another local
media that they fear the end of the Easter camping tradition because of the
potential closure of the section of West Bay Road. 

First of all, Dart owns the beachfront land they say they
won’t be able camp on. Even without the road closing, if the Dart Group wanted
to prevent people from camping above the high-water mark they could – because
they own the land. Where did anyone get the idea they have the right to camp on
any else’s private property?

Second of all, there’s plenty of other land to camp on. How
is closing a section of road going to put an end to Easter camping?

What we have here is classic fear mongering. In their
fervour to oppose the Dart deal, the ‘activists’ are apparently willing to say
anything to gain supporters. We don’t know if they are purposely misleading
people or if they are just so blinded by their cause that they have lost their
senses. But foolishness even for a cause is still foolishness and it’s time it



  1. I am not one of the activists involved in the protest against the road closure, therefore I have no idea what it is they said. They could well be misleading people, but so too is the Compass and supporters of the For Cayman Alliance.

    The true value of the road closure (to Dart) is NOT the value of the road itself, but rather the INCREASED value of the property either side of the road once it has been closed.

    Everyone supporting the For Cayman Alliance is conveniently ignoring the increased value of Dart’s property due to the road closure and telling us that we must compare road for road in the deal. This does not set well with some people, and probably the FCO as well since they have the recent memory of politicians handing over government land for less than its true value in Turks and Caicos.

    I am not totally against the road being closed, but I hate when someone pees on my back and tries to tell me that its raining.

  2. Baffled

    Dart is paying for this new road and is doing so because of the gains it will make in adding to the value of its other property holdings. However, the road will be public and for everybodies use. Dart is paying the compensation to the landowners of the affected land (although most of the land is Dart owned) too. Bear in mind if it so wished Dart could always have built a private road to ‘open up’ the value of the land so its not as if they are drastically increasing the value of their land other than in front of the hotel. This deal is as good for the government as it is for Dart, without it the NRA certainly couldn’t build the road, they can’t even afford a zebra crossing!

  3. Unfortunately there are some politicians who are adding fuel to the fire of this issue. Let the protesters allow the majority to decide the road issue. If there are the numbers to force a referendum as with OMOV then let the voters decide. Simply trying to force the issue using fear tactics is undemocratic at best. My opinion is the protesters know they don’t have the numbers thus the other tactics being employed.

  4. @ Completely Baffled
    You are absolutely right that the true value of the new road to Dart is that it converts the narrow beach property they own, virtually unbuildable, into valuable beach front property for development.

    If you look however at an overhead view of the property this is not all the 4,200 feet of road. Because about half of this beach is taken by the Public Beach, to be extended, and White Sands condos.

    But even if we assume that the Public Beach and White Sands did not exist, the total value of this beach front property, at current rates of 100,000 per running foot, would be 420 million.

    But they DO exist. Furthermore Dart already owns and has paid for property on both sides of the road. So what then is the joining’ value?

    Certainly less than 420 million. Perhaps 100 million. Certainly far less than the 600 million valuation being suggested.

    Is it worth our while to allow Dart to enjoy a 100 million increase in their land value so we can get a new road all the way to West Bay plus the other benefits they are giving the community?

    Will these new developments have other knock-on values for Grand Cayman, such as increased employment?

    It is worth remembering that TWO of our finest hotels, the Ritz-Carlton and the Westin are in financial trouble. These big time developments are costly and are NOT a license to print money. Dart is taking a big risk here too.

  5. Even if this valuation, amounts to 600,000,000 dollars which seem to be farfetched, 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 to me and many others.

  6. LongTermResident,

    I do not disagree with anything that you are saying. Whether the value is less than 100M or greater than 600 million, is not that important. All that I am saying is that it should be taken into consideration.

    Taking government land at Salt Creek as compensation for building a road does not seem fair to me when the issue of increased land value from the road closure is conveniently ignored.

    There is also the issue of conflict of interest in the negotiations, but the Compass will not allow that to be posted.

  7. You know, the protestors are against so many things, they don’t have time to protest them individually, so they bunch them all together to save time. Stop the steal?! No to land swaps, no to closing the road, no to the dump, no, no, no! There are probably more issues that I am leaving out. Sorry if I missed anything.

    I have not heard a reasonable and valid point by ANYONE as to why these projects should not move forward. Even comments made on this forum are downright disturbing. We like what we got and we want to keep it that way; it won’t put food on MY table; the road is a national treasure; they lied about the length of the road so everything they say is a lie (coming from the same people who said the road is worth 600 million.) People are ignoring the fact that it will INCREASE the value of Dart’s property; it’s not fair!; the dump should stay in George Town so it’s closer to everything and on and on and on. Have these people really stopped to think about what they are saying?

    So what if it increases the value of Dart’s property? I bet he paid a fair price for the land when he bought it, he didn’t cheat anyone. And is he taking that increased value and putting it in his pocket like most greedy investors would? No! He is building a new 4 lane road to West Bay, building a 4 star hotel, closing the current dump aka Mt. Trashmore and building a PUBLIC park on it, building a new waste management facility at his own expense, and when it’s completed, he is GIVING it to government.

    Even the protestors admit that this will create jobs. I guess it’s just not a job THEY would want. Construction puts more money directly into the Cayman economy than any other industry. Its effects are immediate, it creates jobs, increases sales for local businesses (both retail and service related) and it trickles down from there. It’s a lot more benefit than some millionaire sticking 100million in their bank account. Are people really so bitter that they would deny this kind of investment simply b/c they don’t want Dart to benefit from an increase in property value? If it doesn’t put food on YOUR table, how about your neighbors table who might be a plumber or electrician or truck driver who ends up having a job b/c these investments are moving forward.

    I don’t’ think it’s fair that Dart is a billionaire and I have to work 10 hours a day to put food on my family’s table, but the world is not a fair place. That’s life. I don’t agree with everything McKeeva proposes either, but I can see what he is trying to do here. He has a responsibility to keep our small economy thriving, and in these tough times when government is broke and people are struggling, he is getting creative and trying to make something out of nothing. At least he is taking action and trying to get something done, rather than throwing his hands up in the air and saying well, times are tough, we will get by somehow and expects that things will get better by doing nothing.

    Even worse are the politicians who fuel this negativity and protesting for their own benefit. They organize and support a protest as the key speaker, so they can get their picture in the paper standing up in front of a crowd making a speech, with hopes it will win them votes. The public looks to them for guidance and leadership b/c they expect that their elected leaders are more knowledgeable than they are. Instead of doing the right thing, they take advantage of the public’s nave-ness, and convince them to protest against Cayman’s best interests. I don’t think it’s their education that is lacking, rather, a conscience and moral compass.

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