Online poll: George Town should be about the people

The best way to revitalize George Town is to take care of the man on the street. That’s according to the results of the latest Cayman Compass online poll. 

Of 407 participants, 122 individuals, equating to 30 percent of the total, were in favor of changing zoning rules to allow people to live above commercial premises, A further 121 (29.7 percent) said the way to boost the capital was to make it more pedestrian-friendly.  

Adding more restaurants, bars and night-time entertainment was the preferred option of 93 poll respondents, or 22.9 percent, while 27 people – 6.6 percent – were in favor of putting in new roads for better accessibility. 

The remaining 44 people (10.8 percent) opted for “Other.” 

Of those in favor of zoning alterations, one person commented, “Force the landlords of the spaces currently empty, but on long-term leases, to have open premises – especially on the waterfront.”
Someone else had a view that could only come from a Cayman resident: “Get rid of [the] chickens.” Another person who selected the zoning option was on the side of the small trader, saying “Give more local businesses the chance to work from there.” 

Making the town more pedestrian-friendly was also a popular choice. One person went further than just the capital. 

“Need to make the whole island more pedestrian friendly,” began the reader. “And public transport as well, the current public transport is a joke. Just yesterday I had to pick up an elderly lady who was dropped off at the gas station in North Side because the bus driver told her he did not go any further than the turnoff to Queen’s Highway.” 

More than one person felt that more parking spaces were essential. Others thought the whole area should be pedestrianized. 

“Get rid of port traffic through waterfront that prevents evening dining and shopping,” urged one reader. 

Those who selected “Other” had plenty to say. 

“Make it attractive for people to live in downtown. They will then be shopping close to where they live. It is the only way many U.S. cities have found to bring back to life a downtown area,” one reader wrote. 

Another person took a historical viewpoint, saying, “While I agree that the city needs a face lift and make it more urbanized, I worry that some folks have misplaced nostalgia when they talk about revitalizing the ‘capital,’ which to my knowledge was always a ghost town after 5 p.m. when most business closes.  

“You could hardly get them to stay open late during holidays. Is it that we are afraid that Camana Bay is the place to work, live and play after dark?” 

Practical considerations were on the mind of another reader, who wrote: “All of the options and then some, include shuttles from an outlying parking area, hold festivals and street fairs, encourage a store to be developed by year 12 students so they can learn how to run a profitable business, put in covenants that exteriors of businesses must adhere to a certain standard, [limit] the number of shops that can offer the same thing i.e., the tacky $10 T-Shirt shops.” 

More than one person wrote a variation on “Get rid of the cruise ships and their shops,” and finally one reader felt that action was better than words. 

“Try opening up at night and weekends and not just for the ships,” the writer began. “If you open, they will come.” 

Next week’s poll question 

  • The Health Services Authority will be owed $70 million in bad debts by 2015. How can the hospital combat unpaid patient fees? 
  • Take patients’ credit cards when they’re admitted to hospital. 
  • Charge patients up front for each procedure. 
  • Hire debt collectors to collect outstanding bill payments. 
  • Healthcare should be free. Let the government pick up the bill. 
  • Other (explain). 

To participate, visit