Water taxis, pedestrian zones among Chamber suggestions
A city manager should be appointed to help develop and oversee a plan to revitalize George Town, the Chamber of Commerce believes.
The business lobby group has submitted a list of ideas to government for the development of the capital, including the appointment of a full-time administrator to look out for the needs of the town.
The idea could gain traction with the Progressive government which floated the concept in its 2013 election manifesto and is looking to redevelop the capital to accommodate an expected influx of cruise tourists over the next few years.
The Chamber memberships’ suggestions include closing the waterfront to traffic when cruise ships are in port, introducing a water-taxi service from Seven Mile Beach hotels, and developing a San Francisco-style public transport system of hop-on hop-off trolleys.
The recommendations also include more mundane, but potentially more significant, concerns around car parking space, building codes and planning incentives.
Wil Pineau, chief executive officer at the Chamber, said the ideas, gleaned from the membership, were a starting point for discussions. But he said it was vital that an over-arching, strategic plan was put in place with a clear budget and a leadership structure with accountability for implementation.
He said restoring the capital to its former place as the hub of commerce and activity in Grand Cayman was of such importance that the business community and the public should be involved from the outset.
Johann Moxam, president of the Chamber, wrote to Minister Kurt Tibbetts, whose ministry is developing a strategy for George Town, to offer the Chamber’s support last week.
He said the Chamber supported a Progressives manifesto pledge to appoint a city manager to lead the redevelopment.
“The time has come to take action to restore downtown George Town to its rightful place as the hub of commerce, economic and residential activity and as an appealing and entertaining centre where persons from all walks of life can interact at all times of the day and enjoy the many treasures and history that is available,” Mr. Moxam said.
He told the Compass it was important that the project went beyond window dressing for cruise ship passengers and made a lasting tangible difference to the lives of people who lived and worked in George Town.
“I think the port project and the revitalization of George Town are connected because you can’t develop the port without addressing George Town’s issues,” he said. “However, we feel this has to go beyond Harbour Drive. It is important that all businesses are able to benefit from the redevelopment of George Town rather than just one or two stores and a select few businesses.”
Mr. Pineau said there had been various efforts over the years to beautify George Town, but never a holistic, strategic plan for the city.
He believes a steering committee of local merchants could be set up to work with government, potentially led by a city manager with a remit to look out for George Town’s interests.
Any redevelopment, he said, would have to start by looking at infrastructure.
“What are the roads going to look like? How are we going to handle the traffic flow? Where are people going to park?” he said.
He added that the community needed to have input on these issues, but leadership would be required to organize the ideas into a coherent plan and to be responsible for implementation.
Ideas gleaned so far from the Chamber membership range from ambitious concepts such as downtown hotel and water taxi business to more routine concerns like introducing cross walks and dealing with trash and vagrancy.