Premier: ‘Agreement in principle’ to purchase Smith Cove

The Cayman Islands government has agreed “in principle” to purchase a property on the northern end of Smith Cove, to prevent part of the beach from being developed.

Premier Alden McLaughlin announced Friday in Legislative Assembly that the agreement had been made with Bronte Development Ltd. to buy the land, but a price had not been agreed.

“[The] price … will not exceed the cost that the developer has incurred in the purchase of the property and the costs incurred in the planned development,” Mr. McLaughlin said, adding that the government Lands and Survey Department would vet whatever the proposed cost for the land is to ensure “accuracy and value for money.”

Publicly available property transfer records show that a company named TFG Cayman Ltd., which was behind a planning application to build condominiums at the north end of Smith Cove, bought the property from a firm controlled by the Dart group of companies last year for US$4.25 million.

Mr. McLaughlin said the government would seek to fund the purchase out of its Environmental Protection Fund. That fund is effectively “ring-fenced” from day-to-day use by lawmakers and requires an affirmative vote of the Legislative Assembly members before it can be spent.

“I hope we will be able to rely on the votes of all members of the House so that the country will see us all joining together in a unanimous ‘yes’ vote to secure this property for public use in perpetuity,” the premier said.

The Cayman Islands National Trust said this week that it would nominate Smith Cove, also known as Smith Barcadere, to its heritage register in recognition of its significance to “our history, culture and people.”

Once the purchase was complete, Mr. McLaughlin said, government would have a park and beach that would eventually become part of a plan to revitalize George Town district.

“[The] government thanks Bronte Development for agreed to forgo its plans and to sell the property to government,” he said.

South Sound park

During his announcement about the Smith Cove purchase, Premier McLaughlin also said government expected a new public park next to South Sound dock to be completed by the end of this year.

Architectural drawings for a “boardwalk” in the area were submitted to the Central Planning Authority in June, lawmakers have confirmed.

The submission is part of the government’s overall beautification and improvement scheme for the area that involves shifting a section of the two-lane road between the Cayman Crossing subdivision and the South Sound dock.

Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts also said there are plans to use privately held land, with the agreement of the owners, for a public park.

Just past Cayman Crossing, the minister said, a park, which has been discussed with the local landowners, will be created to include bathroom facilities near the boat launch ramp. The parking area for the dock will also be extended, he said. “We’re trying to create a nice ambience there,” Mr. Tibbetts said earlier this year, “another area where [residents] can go and spend their leisure time.”

Mr. Tibbetts said most of the proposed park land is held privately, but it is too close to the coast for development purposes.