Chamber: City manager needed for George Town

Water taxis, pedestrian zones among Chamber suggestions

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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. 

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Among the Chamber of Commerce’s ideas to revamp George Town is to close the waterfront to traffic when cruise ships are in port. – PHOTO: CHRIS COURT

1 COMMENT

  1. The Chamber of Commerce is a special interest group that has never truly put forward any meaningful suggestions outside of what is in the best interest of its core membership. That being said it is clear that this special interest group has taken a turn for the worst in recent months.

    While I agree in principle with the idea that GT needs to be revitalized I don’t think the government needs to spend any money on a City Manager in order to move this initiative forward. Sufficient resources exist within government to plan and coordinate any redevelopment that is required and, at a time when we are spending all of our savings paying the likes of Mr. Kernohan undisclosed amounts for incompetent decision making by unnamed individuals, we don’t need to be taking on any unnecessary expenditure.

  2. As I see it, as Camana Bay continues to grow and government allows Dart to grow his empire, then there will be no hope for George Town. Talk about cutting your nose off to spite your face.

    Poor planning and bad decisions to give the richest guy in the world all the rights to develop and purchase everything for really nothing.

  3. The creation of a 2nd tier of government must be thought through carefully because it will expand. A city manager will need a staff of course and this city government will grow in size and cost.
    Of course if the chamber would be willing to fund this new level of government they are proposing then that might work.

  4. What is more than important than a City Manager to revitalize the Port? Is a solution to the intolerable long lines causing an overcrowded infrastructure at the Owen Roberts International Airport.
    This is not just a a safety issue but a tourism disaster.

  5. I’m sorry but I just cannot agree with the idea of hiring a City Manager just to oversee a plan to revitalize GeorgeTown especially with an already cash strapped CIG requiring cutbacks, I would think that the High paid MLA’s would be responsible for this. If they need to hire a so called City Manager the MLA’s must not be doing their jobs, maybe they should start with getting better MLA’s.

  6. I am about sick of hater’s blaming everything on other people, it’s not Darts fault that he created a much better environment for people to enjoy than Georgetown. It was the CIG that allow Georgetown to be so over developed with no green spaces and the fact he the available office space down there are less than mediocre is due to the lack of upkeep and renovation require to make the spaces attractive in the current market. The answer is not stop other people from growing but to make the right choices to compete and grow yourself. It has nothing to do with Dart that Georgetown developed into a Blacktop Concrete jungle compared to Camana Bay. Dart just had better taste.

  7. Years ago this island got along very nicely without thousands of day visitors pouring off cruise ships moored in our harbor and damaging the local reefs.
    Eden Rocks used to be a beautiful dive site, now it is dead coral.

    Our best income comes from stayover tourists not people who might book a Stingray City or dolphin trip but might just wander round buying a coke or an ice cream.

    We hardly ever go into town nowadays. There is nothing there except for jewelry and T Shirt shops.

    Parking is almost impossible. Retails stores claim that the public street outside their store is reserved for their customers and anyone else will be clamped. (Is this legal?)

    Like many other local we go to Camana Bay, which has excellent public spaces. I’m sure many people go there to enjoy the facilities without spending any money. No need to condemn Dart for turning a swamp into a major attraction with his own money!

    As others have posted, a city manager will need staff and what exactly are they hoping he will do? If the Chamber of Commerce thinks this is needed, let them pay for it.

    Georgetown is cruise boat people city and we need to get used to it.

  8. A city manager… perfect!!! Another position for another corrupt government official to bleed dry for his friends and family! Maybe we could start this person at 6500 a month?? Car and gas paid for? And a nice cushy position for their wife, cousins, grandkids, etc etc? Anybody else in Cayman growing weary of all this (expletive)?