Cruise berthing facilities in George Town harbor have been debated for so long that many Caymanians were either children or not even born when the issue was first considered.
Despite the efforts of successive governments, to date there has been little progress to report (other than a virtual – and expanding – library of consultant studies and reports). That appears likely to change.
The current People’s Progressive Movement-led government has initiated yet another effort with a thorough process that includes an exhaustive and expensive (approximately $2 million) environmental impact assessment, a thorough economic analysis, and widespread public hearings.
Because of the environmental concerns, opposition to the cruise project has grown, and an ad hoc group called “Save Cayman” has launched an effort to force a people’s initiated referendum to stop the project from going forward.
On the other hand, there are many who believe strongly that developing cruise berthing facilities is essential to Cayman’s future. Some of these proponents have formed their own ad hoc group called “Cayman’s Port. Cayman’s Future.”
With these two groups being the loudest voices on the issue, the debate has been widely construed as the “environmentalists” vs. the “merchants.” Of course, it’s more complex than that but, for the purposes of this special section, we invited each side to “take their best shot” by submitting articles of up to 2,500 words, which we agreed to print. Both sides took us up on our offer, and their “best shots” appear on Pages 6 and 7.
Our guiding principle – and instruction to our team of editors and reporters working on this special report – is that we must be even-handed in our approach. We are not taking sides, and we have not yet taken a position editorially on this matter. That is likely to change in coming weeks as we ourselves become more educated on the issues and more contemplative about the long-term implications of this project.
This is no minor matter, since the cost, and magnitude, of the port project qualify it as the largest public works undertaking in the history of the Cayman Islands.
It is the hope of the editorial staff of the Cayman Compass that the articles and viewpoints presented in this special report will give readers a fuller understanding of the issues surrounding the proposed cruise berthing facility so that they can add their informed voices – be they for or against the project – to the national discourse.
Pinnacle Media Ltd., the parent company of the Cayman Compass, will be overprinting this special report by several thousands copies for free distribution to local schools, businesses, and the community at large.