A private entity is seeking Cabinet approval to build a two-finger cruise berthing facility north of George Town harbour.
The company, called Balboa Cruise Terminal Ltd., has submitted a coastal works licence application for a port that could accommodate four Oasis-class cruise ships, involving dredging and land reclamation in Whitehall Bay, where North Church Street meets Bodden Road.
The site, between Mr. Arthurs and the two-storey building where La Dolce Vita restaurant is located, has a one-storey building tenanted by Cayman Real Estate Company. The landowner is Atlantic Centre Holdings.
The identities of the people controlling Balboa are not yet known by the Caymanian Compass.
According to the coastal works application, the project includes two cruise ship piers and an area of reclaimed land – 650 feet by 250 feet – for buildings for immigration, customs, the port authority, security, personnel offices, lounges and restrooms. The project calls for dredging to a uniform depth of 38 feet below sea level, and a construction time line of two years.
The project’s footprint would cover two dive sites, Soto’s North and Fish Pot Reef. The amount of material to be removed totals 800,000 cubic yards. The project would affect 1.32 million square feet of Crown property, according to the application.
The Compass ran public notifications of the coastal works licence application for the project in its 1 and 8 May editions in the classifieds section. Government staffers have not yet analysed and provided input on the proposal.
Cabinet denies other projects
This isn’t the first recent proposal for marine works in the area.
On 21 January, Cabinet refused a coastal works licence application from Atlantic Star Ltd. to construct a 7-foot-high, 254-foot-long sea wall off the coast of the same property. According to the minutes of a Central Planning Authority meeting in April 2012, the planning board advised the Ministry of Health, Environment, Youth, Sports and Culture that it did not support the use of metal sheet pilings to construct the seawall. “The Authority is concerned that other examples exist on the Island where sheet pilings have been used and have resulted in rust leaking into the sea and beach,” according to the minutes.
The same day, Cabinet also refused a coastal works licence application from ID Corporation for a wholly distinct project to create a mega-yacht marina just south, where North Church Street intersects Wahoo Close. ID Corporation’s application had been submitted in September 2010, and involved moorings for four large mega yachts – up to 200 feet in length – as well as 30-foot and 50-foot slips for smaller boats.
The project called for dredging to 15 feet below sea level, affecting 1.7 acres of seabed and involving the excavation of 13,845 cubic yards of material.
According to the records associated with ID Corporation’s application, the Department of Environment said in its view that Whitehall Bay was theoretically better suited for a mega-yacht marina than North Sound, but that an environmental impact assessment should be required before proceeding.
However, the department added that in this case it did not see the need to even proceed to the (potentially expensive) environmental impact assessment phase because the footprint of ID Corporation’s marina proposal overlapped the operational footprint of the Cayman Islands government’s George Town cruise port project.
Following the failure of cruise port negotiations between government and a succession of contractors, including Atlantic Star, GLF, Dart Enterprises Construction Company and China Harbour Engineering Company, the government has restarted the procurement process and is seeking bids from firms to put together a business case study to support a later tendering process for potential contractors.
A civil servant-led Cruise Berthing Steering Committee has created a strategic outline case that sets out basic parameters for government’s cruise berthing project, including that the project will be located in George Town harbour, will include improvements to the alternative tendering location in Spotts and will require a public-private partnership. The Port Authority of the Cayman Islands will retain operational responsibility over government’s proposed new cruise facility.
However, the strategic outline case notes the uncertainty posed by the potential outcomes of the 22 May elections: “[T]he current policy direction relating to the project will be subject to change”.