Government agreed Monday to take $5 million from the Environmental Protection Fund to buy part of Smith Cove to protect it from development.

Local developer Bronte had submitted a planning application to build two blocks of condos on the northern part of the property.

Though the developer said the buildings would be set well back from the beach and public areas, the application caused significant public outcry.

A Save the Cove group was established and a petition gathered 3,000 signatures in four days, while the National Trust joined calls to protect “a beloved area of great historic and cultural significance.”

Government stepped in and negotiated a deal to buy the property from owner TFG Cayman, who paid US$4.25 million for it, according to Lands and Survey records, and the application was withdrawn. The developer will also be refunded the stamp duty and other costs associated with buying the property and bringing it to the point of development.

Premier Alden McLaughlin has said the agreement will be vetted by Lands and Survey staff and will not exceed the costs to the developer.

Legislators unanimously voted Monday night for an appropriation of $5 million to cover the cost of buying the property “for the conservation of the natural environment and to benefit the people of the Cayman Islands.”

Environment Minister Wayne Panton told the Cayman Compass that figure could also include upgrades to the area. He said the specific purchase price was still to be determined. Meanwhile, campaigners who fought the development are planning a celebratory event at Smith Cove on Saturday.

Taura Ebanks, a vocal advocate for protecting Smith Cove, said, “I am excited that a deal is being worked on and the information is being shared publicly.”

She added, “Although we would love to see the contract signed and the ink dry, we are having a little bit of a celebration at the beach. We are asking people to come together and enjoy and appreciate what we have here and what everybody fought for.

“I think people showed you can stand up for something you believe in and you can do it the right way and the right thing can happen.”

She said the event would be a low-key affair, from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., where people could bring their own coolers, jump off the rocks, swim and enjoy the sunset. A beach cleanup is also planned for Sunday from 6 a.m. with community groups including Academy Sports Club and Purple Dragon Martial Arts Club involved.

Morne Botes, who helped found the Save the Cove group, said, “We invite all to come and enjoy the beautiful Smith Cove on Saturday and see what we fought for. We are so glad the developer and government could come to an amicable agreement.”

He said a family in Webster’s Estate had also gifted four picnic benches and tables to the beach.

 

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4 COMMENTS

  1. There has been a lot expressed concerning the purchase of this property, but I would say I am very happy that the Government has bought it. I am sure more than half the population of Cayman has visited this beautiful beach at some time.
    You see money is absolutely no use if you are not enjoying every penny of it. As long as the Government could afford it, I say go for it and now every one can feel relaxed and have a happy week end at Smith Barcadere.

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  2. In the current property market the proposed development would have been a huge gamble so I rather suspect this was the object of the exercise anyway. The developers knew their plans would cause a public outcry and timing the announcement just as the run up to the 2017 election was beginning would force the government to act. However, if it protects the site I’d say this is a good, if rather costly, result. There’s nothing to beat an early morning swim from Smith Cove.

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  3. David, I would agree with much of what you have said, but don’t think that the purchase of Smith Barcadere (Cove) is not going to cause any changes to who people will vote for come 2017 election.
    Whomever people have in their minds to vote for is there to stay from now till next year, and nothing will change it, and people do watch what has been done and whatever support has been given to make things better for the people of these islands.
    I like to see people happy, and whichever government makes the effort to make Caymanians stable and contented will hold the chairs come next election. There are not many of us, so that should not be a problem.

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