The number of derelict and abandoned buildings on Grand
Cayman is eye-assaulting.
There are many examples – easily seen from major roads –
that cannot be excused as Ivan casualties any longer.
Hurricane Ivan is now a part of our history. That terrible
event in September of 2004 does not excuse the sights residents see – as well
as thousands of tourists.
It is easy to overlook the eyesores because we see them
every day. It becomes appalling, however, when one imagines himself as a
tourist seeing Grand Cayman for the first time.
While such places – homes and businesses – exist in every
district, it is most notable to those who drive east, through Bodden Town.
On Wednesday one of those houses wiped out in Hurricane Ivan
The house sat on one of the most pristine areas of Grand
Cayman near the intersection of Manse and Shamrock roads. Since the hurricane,
it had become a haven for drug users.
It’s just one of a handful of derelict properties throughout
Grand Cayman that are in desperate need of attention.
Unfortunately, in most cases, getting the structures torn
down is a costly and lengthy court process.
The one Wednesday was done by Watler’s Metal Products in
exchange for aggregate collected from the demolition.
Another Bodden Town home that was destroyed by Ivan needs to
come down, but government can’t find the owner.
The crux of the problem is a lack of laws that govern
We don’t have property standards in the Cayman Islands despite
being one of the richest countries in the world. Rules on the books to make
property owners keep their lots, yards or buildings orderly are rarely
It isn’t unusual, unfortunately, to find a well kept
expensive home adjacent to a run down homestead on Grand Cayman. In addition to
being an eyesore, these places also bring down the value of property.
There are fines on the books for derelict properties –
$5,000 a day from the date of notice from the government to get the property in
order. The price goes up to $25,000 a day if the property is in a hotel-tourism
designated zone. To our knowledge, not one instance of these penalties has ever
been enforced or adjudicated. Admittedly taking the cases to court is
difficult, time consuming and expensive.
Bodden Town MLA and now Minister of Health Osbourne Bodden
introduced legislation in 2007, when he was a backbencher, to address the
problem of derelict property. The legislation went nowhere.
It’s difficult to get legislators to pass laws governing how
someone should keep his or her property and penalising them if they break the
rules because it can be a deal breaker at election time.
Now that Mr. Bodden is a member of Cabinet perhaps he can
get this needed legislation passed through the House.
Nature gave us beautiful waters and white sandy beaches but
we cannot coast on that alone forever.
We must do better at presenting a clean and orderly society,
both for ourselves and our guests.
Government should not be responsible for making sure every
resident keeps their land from resembling a landfill. However, government does
have a crucial role in addressing this problem. It must lead.
In short, pass the law; get out the bulldozers.