Two birds with one stone? Kids’ play! Why stop there? A bold proposal circulating in the Cayman Islands’ political and business communities encompasses no fewer than five major infrastructure projects.
The proposal, which appears to have been drafted by Italy based international construction and engineering company Grandi Lavori Fincosit (GLF), would:
- Move the cargo port from the George Town harbor to Breakers
- Create a backup anchorage for cruise ships, including larger Oasis-class vessels
- Replace the Jackson Point fuel terminal with a new fuel-storage facility in a less densely populated area
- Extend the East-West Arterial Road from Hirst Road in Newlands toward East End; and
- Generate a large amount of aggregate which could be used for other projects — for example, extending the runway at Owen Roberts International Airport to accommodate larger passenger jets.
Be advised that the new cargo port plan is separate from and unrelated to ongoing discussions around creating a cruise berthing facility in George Town. Nevertheless, they may move forward in parallel, if not in tandem. Ideally, the cargo and cruise port functions would never have been commingled in the first place. Cranes and containers do not mix well with flip-flops and piña coladas.
The Compass understands that local attorney and former MLA Cline Glidden Jr., no stranger to cruise port discussions, is representing an as-yet unnamed company involved in the cargo port proposal. While it is premature to say whether this plan would be the best way to check a few projects off Cayman’s infrastructure “wish list” — or if the project plan is even feasible — we admire its scope and bold vision.
For years, there have been discussions about separating the cargo and cruise ship ports. We agree with Speaker of the House McKeeva Bush, who told the Compass the idea is worth consideration: “In my mind’s eye, it would be a project for the next 50 years,” he said.
This proposal calls for dredging an area in Breakers to create a deepwater harbor on land owned largely by the Dart group of companies (which, we are told, does not have direct involvement in the plan at this time). It’s not far from the area where the Dart group previously had proposed to relocate the landfill, an idea that was killed by intense political pressure (“No Dump In Bodden Town”).
In terms of scale, scope and impact on the neighboring community, comparing the new port plan to Dart’s old landfill proposal is like comparing a skyscraper to a sand castle.
But just because a project is disruptive does not mean it is not worthwhile. In spheres as diverse as evolution and development, disruption is often necessary.
Too often, the knee-jerk response to daring or visionary proposals for Cayman has been to look backward, not forward, and to yearn wistfully, and feebly, for the “good old days,” which, candidly, are never coming back.
Respecting — even honoring and celebrating — our past is not a substitute for planning and building our future.
It will take more, and more ambitious, ideas for Cayman to keep pace — and hopefully outpace — the rapidly evolving global economy.
Of course, whenever we think about “big thinking,” all of these proposals come with one big caveat: The bigger the idea, generally speaking, the bigger the price tag. Until the funding or financing is in place, we are still in the “window shopping” phase — nice to have but we may not be able to afford it.