A draft proposal to construct a new cargo port in Grand Cayman’s eastern districts has been circulated to some MLAs and certain members of the local business community.
A copy of the draft plan, reviewed by the Cayman Compass, seeks to address several ofcargo portGrand Cayman’s most significant infrastructure problems in one overarching project.
The port project would seek to dredge an area in Breakers to create a deep-water, protected harbor that could accommodate cargo vessels, as well as larger Oasis-class cruise ships which cannot now be anchored in George Town or off Spotts Dock.
The plan does not seek or intend to replace current cruise ship facilities in George Town and does not address any future developments scheduled for that location. It does seek the removal of the cargo port from George Town harbor.
In a statement released in response to Cayman Compass questions, the Dart group of companies generally supported the idea of moving the cargo port out of George Town, although the company noted it was not directly involved with any such proposal: “This idea has been around for more than a decade and appears to have some merit. It makes sense to explore sustainable infrastructure solutions which separate the cargo and cruise operations and remove cargo operations from Hog Sty Bay.”
In addition to the cargo port, plans seen by the Compass would require the extension of the East-West Arterial Road from its current ending point at Hirst Road in Newlands toward East End. The extended road would be the main pathway to and from the new port.
Along the extended roadway and north of the proposed harbor, an area is proposed for the creation of a new fuel storage terminal, with the idea being to remove the existing Jackson Point fuel terminal in George Town to the eastern Bodden Town/Breakers area.
The proposal seen by the Compass suggests a financing plan largely dependent on the use of fill from the dredging project.
That aggregate, the plan suggests, could be used for a number of other projects, including filling in an area just east of Owen Roberts International Airport for a proposed runway extension.
The draft of the proposal seen by the Compass suggests Grandi Lavori Fincosit, or GLF, an Italy based international construction and engineering company with offices in the U.S., was involved in drawing up the plans.
Local attorney Cline Glidden, Jr., who the Compass understands is representing a company involved in the proposal, said he did not have permission from his client to comment on the matter. Mr. Glidden previously led cruise port discussions with the Dart group of companies and GLF for the proposed cruise pier in George Town when he was an MLA during 2009-2013. Those discussions dissolved during 2011, as the then-United Democratic Party government chose other options for the port project.
Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin said this week that he did not know anything about the new cargo port proposal. Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell did not return messages seeking comment sent Monday.
Speaker of the House and West Bay MLA McKeeva Bush said he had seen the proposal and noted he believed it was viable as a long-term infrastructure project.
“I would believe that [location] is where the cargo port, the petroleum, a transshipment base and some home-porting for cruise can be located,” Mr. Bush said, referring to the Breakers area. “In my mind’s eye, it would be a project for the next 50 years.
“Obviously, the country would benefit from such development with the ancillary projects [roads etc.] that government would demand. I’m very supportive.”
Independent Prospect MLA Austin Harris said he was invited to a meeting Friday to learn about the cargo port proposal, which he said he was curious to find our more about.
Most of the land identified for the project area is privately owned, including large swaths owned by the Dart group of companies.
Dart company officials noted they were aware of “several conceptual drawings” being circulated that proposed moving both the cargo port and fuel storage terminal to the Breakers area.
“Dedicating the Royal Watler Terminal exclusively for cruise operations would facilitate a much improved guest experience and could potentially act as a catalyst for a revitalized George Town,” the statement from Dart sent in response to Compass questions read. “Without cargo activity at night, and combined with berthing facilities, cruise lines would be motivated to remain in port longer, leading to higher value benefits from cruise tourism for the local economy.”