Effectively, James Eldon Whittaker Jr. has introduced an aerial dimension to the port discussion, which heretofore has been confined to the sea (tender boats) and land (cruise dock).
Now, we won’t comment on the relative merits or disadvantages of the cable car suggestion, other than to observe it has stoked greater interest in the port discussion among the general public, including perhaps for people who may not have been paying attention to (or even cared much about) the subject to date.
We believe that when it comes to the cruise port — with hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money on the line, and the potential economic implications to Cayman ranging into the billions — the more attention and more conversation there is, the better. Indeed, apart from purely financial considerations, the decision on whether to go ahead with cruise berthing, or not, will largely determine the course of Cayman’s entire tourism industry for decades to come. It is that significant.
(We encourage our readers to visit, or re-visit, the Compass’s comprehensive special report on this issue, “The Dock Debate,” which was published July 30, and is still available online at the Compass Data Desk, www.compassdatadesk.com.)
Since the release of the consultants’ report on the expected environmental impact of the cruise berthing project (which followed a separate report by consultants on the expected economic impact of cruise berthing), we have been receiving from our elected leaders mixed messages, maybe even indicative of a divided government.
Ostensibly, the elected government has been waiting for — guess what — the results of even more consultants’ reports before they will indicate if they will continue to pursue the cruise dock in George Town harbor. Given the quantity of information already on hand, we don’t understand what could possibly be gleaned from any new reports that could swing the government’s decision from “yea” to “nay,” or vice versa.
That being said, this Editorial Board is preparing to issue our own “official” stance on the cruise dock debate in the near future. When we do publish that editorial, our arguments will not hinge on likely negative consequences to the marine environment. Frankly, while the environmental report provides details as to how much reef, or how many shipwrecks, precisely, may be harmed, we don’t think it was particularly illuminating to read that constructing immense concrete structures and undertaking a massive amount of dredging may destroy everything in the near vicinity.
Of course it will. But the unavoidable harm to the environment constitutes, to us, just one bullet point on the list of pros and cons. Of far greater consequence, in our opinion, are the potential effects on Cayman’s economy and, perhaps even more importantly, on the quality of life for Cayman’s residents.