Cayman Brac ‘dying on its feet’

Marina project at Salt Water Pond pushed by opposition

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Cayman’s premier and opposition leader this week pushed separate agendas for the development and economic diversification of Cayman Brac amid fears that the local population would eventually just drift away following a prolonged economic downturn.  

“[Cayman Brac] is dying on its feet,” Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush said Wednesday during a Legislative Assembly debate in the Brac’s Aston Rutty Centre. “The last time I came here … you can tell where the economic downturn has occurred.”  

“It is painfully obvious that Cayman Brac is at a crossroads,” Premier Alden McLaughlin said. “Population figures are dwindling, businesses are struggling. Most of the students have little, if any, prospects of getting work on Cayman Brac, so there is a constant brain drain [as they move away].”  

East End MLA Arden McLean summed up legislators’ concerns Wednesday evening: “This place is going to be for the newly-wed or the nearly dead [referring to retirees].”  

Seeking to bolster the islands’ tourism offerings requires something of a balancing act, Mr. Bush said. The Brac falls somewhere between the more modern beachfront resorts of Grand Cayman and the quaint, quiet charm of Little Cayman. It needs jobs for local residents, but it also wants to retain its small town feel, he said.  

Mr. McLaughlin said Cabinet has given its approval “in principle” to two major projects: the development of a marina next to the Alexander Hotel in the Brac’s Salt Water Pond and the opening of a new airline ticketing center to eventually allow for direct flights from Miami to Cayman Brac.  

Other employment projects government had approved include the creation of six more jobs in the Cayman Brac Fire Service, and the addition of a patrol boat to local police operations, the premier said. He said the government is also working on sports tourism and making Cayman Brac a more attractive destination for weddings and family tourism.  

Mr. Bush sought to direct government’s immediate attention to the redevelopment of the Salt Water Pond, moving a motion to create a Cayman Brac environmental oversight committee to oversee the project, removing direct control from officials on Grand Cayman and seeking to move the marina project forward within eight weeks’ time.  

Environment Minister Wayne Panton said government would agree to the motion, with the caveat that an environmental review of the dredging project would be completed prior to its construction.  

Mr. Bush said he had heard such statements before and hoped government wasn’t simply stalling to please “environmentalists on Grand Cayman.”  

“Four years [after it was first proposed], we are discussing the approval process for this project while the people of Cayman Brac are growing in despair,” Mr. Bush said. “We cannot save a dozen birds and let people here on Cayman Brac suffer.”  

Mr. Panton said concerns remain about whether a channel could be placed in the pond area safely and what steps could be taken to mitigate damage from flooding. “We need to have some objective analysis of this,” he said.  

Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell also rejected views that the current Progressives-led government is opposed to the marina project.  

“There is no member in this honorable House that has spent more time with the developers of the Alexander Hotel and the developers of the proposed marina than I have,” Mr. Kirkconnell said. “But my legacy will not be that the west end of Cayman Brac is ruined by a marina. 

“[Marina developer Cleveland Dilbert] said the same thing. He wanted to ensure that this is done in the right way.”  

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Cabinet has agreed in principle to the creation of a marina at Salt Water Pond, an initiative government hopes will help create employment on the Brac. – PHOTO: BRENT FULLER

1 COMMENT

  1. If we would make into law that all planning would take no longer then 8 weeks. We need to include the environmental review. I think it could push forward the Cayman Islands into the future.

  2. What a blatant disregard to the environment by Mr. Bush – We cannot save a dozen birds and let people here on Cayman Brac suffer.
    Nowhere else in the world any politician would publicly say something like this. Also I am a bit confused, on one hand the politicians are preaching go green and carbon foot print and on the other hand they are clearing and filling wetlands for the iron wood development in North Side and place more threat on the blue iguanas and fauna, then they want to destroy a sanctuary for a hotel that probably won’t go anywhere.
    We need England, environmentalists and all those that are concerned about global warming to step in here and save us all from these politicians!
    Come on guys. There are other ways to stimulate a country than destroying nature. I will give you one. Extend the retirement age from 60 to 65 as promised in your manifesto. I am certain with this move, you will lower the costs on social service and people that are 60 would be able to work and be self sufficient and contribute to the economy.

  3. The marina project in the stink pond of Cayman Brac was a pie-in-the-sky project created by Cleveland Dilbert when he bought Foster’s Corner and erected his hotel Alexander on the banks of the odoriferous lagoon, with no access to sea or beach. No amount of dredging only a portion of that pond will make any difference in the sulfurous stink that envelopes that area for months at a time on the West End, South Side, and has been a feature of that area since before people came to the Brac in the 1800s. Surely, Mr. Dilbert, a Bracker, knew that. Only deep dredging in the sea south of the road and Coral Isle bar/restaurant and implanting huge culvert pipes under the road might make the water in part of that lagoon less smelly. Dredging in the open sea there is a non-starter because of the horrific expense of dredging in that location. It would make infinitely more sense to have a marina dredged on the north side of the Brac, north of West End Post Office. This site just west of Scott’s Dock and park, wouldn’t bankrupt the Cayman Islands Treasury as would trying to make a silk purse of the stink pond sow’s ear on the South Side. I do not believe that Cayman Brac is dying on its feet. It is a jewel in the crown of the Cayman Islands.

  4. …the nearly dead (referring to retirees). The nearly dead..? Maybe East End MLA Arden McLean should choose his words more carefully. What an insult to retirees. After working your whole life, you get repaid with contempt. Maybe the nearly dead will reconsider their vote next time. Very rude.

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