Undoubtedly, current government leaders are under pressure of public opinion to grant a green light to the proposed marina project to be located at the present Salt Water Pond in Cayman Brac. A quote from David Thoreau comes to mind as I am a property owner in the Dennis Point Estates along the perimeter of the Salt Water Pond: “In what concerns you most, do not think you have companions, know that you are alone in the world.”
I have personal, serious and valid concerns on this said project, primarily the flooding threat to the low lying areas surrounding the project area as indicated by the topographical map and due to its proximity to my property and personal residence.
My objection stems from the proposal presented to government for consideration of a coastal works license as there is severe scarcity of supporting engineering and scientific data, bearing in mind the geographical location, to whether or not the intended works will withstand severe weather including hurricanes of whatever category the island may experience. This is not a matter of if but when.
To compound this issue is the scientific evidence indicating the rising spectre of climate change and its effect on low-lying islands, which is cause for concern. Note, for example, the island of Barbuda, with a population and elevation comparable to the Brac (population of approximately 1,638; 26.4 square miles, with an elevation of 200 feet), where a recent report on a Caribbean television news program suggest that by the year 2050, 60 percent of its land mass will be inundated by rising sea levels and storm surges, due to damage to the existing protective storm ridge by a recent hurricane.
The proposed 100-foot breach of the existing storm ridge that now affords the protection of the low lying area around Salt Water Pond along with the removal of the buffering habitat, namely the reef, will increase the vulnerability of this coastal area, stretching from the proposed channel to the western end of the island. This was clearly stated by the Department of Environment. As there is also a preponderance of marine life in this area which will be damaged or destroyed, especially the coral reef, such an action will take away the lifeblood of any coastal shoreline development and impact the dive industry. Such thoughtless surgery to enable this type of project, present or future, calls for a national policy with a skilled and powerful, legally backed system of coastal zone management.
The unintended consequences for a project of this magnitude should not be taken lightly, considering the DOE report; therefore, I humbly ask, as the developer is aggressively lobbying for this project to be endorsed, that he should be made to comply in earnest with the statutory requirements from the relevant government departments.
What economic benefits it brings, along with the unintended consequences, should give rise to a much needed debate to clearly define national policy for future development of Crown lands.
Developers are interested primarily in the accounting benefits and I, as an affected homeowner, am solely interested in the detrimental impact to my family and way of life, which could be compromised. Opinion will say that this project will increase my property value, but what value will it have if it is always under constant threat of rising sea levels, severe weather and not to mention the insurance factor if such threats come into play?
Who will maintain such coastal works in perpetuity; will it be the government or the developer?
Will the developer be able to complete such a project financially and meet the statutory requirements?
Who will be responsible for the liabilities incurred by any unintended consequences?
Will the ruling of government, if yes to such a project, set a precedent of future Crown property development by private individuals or consortiums, foreign or local, after the advice from their technocrats is totally ignored?
In recent times, transparency has become the rallying cry and demise of governments. Elected government officials and citizens alike should be open minded and cognizant to the fact that the resilience of the proposed marina project, economically, socially, ecologically and inviolability, depends on the aforementioned engineering and Scientific data and statutory requirements. Plans maximise the return on investment, help stakeholders make informed decisions on viability of projects.
The developer has yet to allay my fears and concerns. The onus is on him to refute the assessment of the DOE in document form and produce his EIA, bathymetric surveys, engineering drawings and other supporting information for public viewing.
I will like to thank you for your time to read this letter. I would like to leave this pearl of wisdom with you. “Men decide far more problems by hate, love, lust, rage, sorrow, joy, hope, fear, illusions, or something inward, than by the reality, authority, any legal standard, judicial precedent or statute.” — Tullius Cicero.