Imagine the following:

It is 4:43 in the morning, Dec. 25. A little boy’s eyelids flutter open. It’s here! He leaps out of bed. His pajamaed feet scarcely graze the steps as he flies down the staircase. And there, under the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree, is — No! Not the shiny red bicycle of his dreams … but a picture of a bicycle, with a note, saying that, if all goes to plan, he might get that bike someday. A few months later, it is the boy’s birthday. Next to the cake is an envelope. In it is a card, with another picture of the red bicycle, and another note saying, “Just wait until Christmas.” The next Christmas, he gets another picture of the bicycle, with another note. And so on.

Pardon us if we find it difficult to muster much enthusiasm over the latest announcement from the Cayman Islands government in relation to the country’s “National Solid Waste Management Strategy.”

We don’t want another report. We want a new landfill.

The government’s breathless plans for marginal measures such as recycling, composting and tire processing aren’t solutions. They’re diversions. (To return to the bicycle analogy once more, they are accessories — helmets, kneepads and handlebar streamers. Sorry, it’s not a bicycle.)

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There are two key issues as to why Cayman does not have a solution to the odious and odorous George Town Landfill: 1) Politics, which prevented the Progressives from accepting the Dart Group’s offer to fix the existing landfill and open a new one in the district of Bodden Town; and, 2) Money, which our government does not have.

Any serious discussion on finding a solution for Grand Cayman’s dump has got to start with a dollar sign, followed by about nine numerals.

There is a simple reason why developers like Dart, Brian Butler and Fraser Wellon are able to see their projects through to completion: They have the money.

There is an equally simple reason why others only manage to leave giant craters in the ground (or, in the case of the government and the landfill, can’t get to the hole-digging phase): They don’t have the money.

The notion that this government will be able to solve the catastrophe of the George Town Landfill (or construct a cruise port downtown, or create any new major project) without having any money belongs in the realm of fantasy and right at home with the works of fiction being screened at this weekend’s Cayman International Film Festival.

The dump is far more than an 80-foot-high mound of garbage. Over the years, it has grown to be many things. It’s an eyesore for cruise passengers, an olfactory offense for residents and an unknown health hazard for anyone who approaches its vicinity. It’s a breeding ground for vermin, a burgeoning burial ground for green iguanas, and an aviary for flocks of birds that threaten planes landing and leaving the nearby Owen Roberts International Airport. To feral dogs, the landfill is the canine equivalent of Blue by Eric Ripert at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.

As much as the Department of Tourism is trying to encourage the upscaling of Grand Cayman’s tourism product, there is one thing standing in the path of our stayover visitors, between the airport and their sumptuous Seven Mile Beach resorts — a hulking, ugly dump.

Unfortunately, our government doesn’t have the money to fix that dump because, over the years and decades when the garbage problem was becoming apparent, officials instead chose to commit taxpayers’ funds to endeavors such as Cayman Airways, the Turtle Farm, the palatial Clifton Hunter High School, not to mention, salaries and benefits for our overgrown civil service.

If we’re mistaken, and there actually is money for a new landfill, then tell us, and show us — please — before we rush down the stairs again to the Christmas tree, only to discover, wrapped up in pretty paper, another set of empty promises.

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  1. I like “..the Department of Tourism is trying to encourage the upscaling of Grand Cayman’s tourism product…..” paragraph. Smack on. Promoting Grand Cayman as an upscale destination falls into deceptive advertising category, in my opinion.
    Should anyone be living near a place where many tonnes of household and industrial waste, dead animals, medical (radioactive?) and hazardous waste and who knows what else are dumped every year? That is for you to decide.
    So buyers beware! Have no advice for the home owners though. Only that doctor’s are thriving and expanding in the Cayman islands. So you might not have to travel off island for the golden (barbaric) three -surgery, chemo and radiation. I hear that for every chemo a doctor prescribes he gets $6,000 back and it is called-reimbursement.
    As for the short-term visitors, I think they will be fine, unless they come when the Dump is on fire.
    The main problem here is that people of The Cayman Islands allow this to continue. So far, no one held responsible.
    If tomorrow half of the islands’ population gets seriously ill, officials would be stirred into action by public complaints. But when you hear someone got cancer, then another, someone is born with cancer, you simply brush it off thinking that it’s not going to happen to you or your family, after all the grass is still green, the sun is shining, the sea is blue and the Dump’s poisons are invisible for the most part.
    If this country had a Cancer register, people would see the extend of it. Without it, one can only guess.
    When a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation is deliberately killed it is called genocide.
    But how do you call the failure to use reasonable care to avoid consequences that threaten or harm the safety of the the large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation?

  2. Just say it like it is; There is a huge corporate citizen with a huge investment in close proximity to this towering land fill. It go to reason that consideration should be given to his plans.. But the half baked plan to place the dump in the back of Bodden town was not a solution.. If the waste to energy plant was to be built at the current dump location, the effect on this development/operation may be worse not better, and who wants that. It seem that some people had no hesitation in putting the dump in others back yards, but caymanians are an agreeable people and continue to seek a solution to the dump, be it a problem only in the minds and to the plans of those who may have developed to close, or planned without regards to others.

    Our schools on the other hand, should be a top priority..

  3. No disrespect intended to the Compass Editorial Team… but our government has oodles of money. More than it can spend sensibly. Unfortunately, what it also has is an urge to spend it foolishly, or flat-out waste it. Any money manager worth his salt could find the money to fix the dump, after maybe half an hour’s perusal of the government’s expenditure-plans for the next year, or the expenditure-records of the last year.

    All the government *lacks* with regard to the dump, is the will to *fix* it. Shame on the MLAs.

  4. I think I see the Cayman Islands population waking up to this George town dump. I can see the banners saying fix the DUMP today , or no vote next year to all politicians responsible , and should be .