Glass House yard turns into parking lot

The impromptu parking area outside the former government administration building was full on Tuesday morning. – Photo: Taneos Ramsay

Nearly 30 vehicles were parked in the yard of the old government administration building, the “Glass House,” in George Town on Tuesday, taking up an entire side of the property on Elgin Avenue.

White “no parking” signs were prominently displayed on two utility poles at the site, but it appeared those signs referred to the yellow-striped access lane next to the back lot entrance of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service station. In any case, vehicles were seen parked in both the access lane and on the Glass House lawn Tuesday morning.

Part of the curb next to the western side of the old administration building lot has been removed, allowing vehicles to access the area and much of the lawn had turned to a dirt path from the vehicles’ use. Government Facilities Management Director Troy Whorms said the RCIPS and the RCIPS only had been given this dedicated area for parking.

“Their parking needs exceed their parking capacity,” Mr. Whorms said in response to Cayman Compass questions about the matter.

The Compass observed some individuals parked in the impromptu lot Tuesday morning walking to the neighboring government administration building, not the police station. Mr. Whorms said the enforcement of parking there was based on an “honor system” at the moment and facilities management was still working out a solution.

“Facilities Management will continue to ‘sticker’ persons that are not parked in the approved areas,” he said. “Thank you for bringing this to our attention.”

There have been a number of ideas over the past seven years since the old Glass House shuttered concerning how to use the 1970s-era building and its surrounding property, but nothing specific has ever been announced. The current government administration building next door on Elgin Avenue opened in early 2011.

Those suggestions include a private-sector proposal to build a public park on the site, which is located between the new administration building and the George Town Police Station on Elgin Avenue. That plan would have required the building’s demolition.

Other plans submitted to government have included ideas to refurbish the interior and lease the building back to government, but that idea was determined to be infeasible.

In October 2015, West Bay MLA McKeeva Bush asked whether the Glass House could be used for a new Royal Cayman Islands Police Service headquarters, since the George Town Police Station has been condemned by building inspectors and needs to be replaced. Mr. Bush was told at the time that it would not be safe to use the Glass House for that purpose.

There is a budget, over the next three years, to construct a new central police station in George Town.

The Cayman Islands government plans to spend more than $15 million over 2018, 2019 and 2020 on new police stations for both George Town and West Bay.

According to figures given to lawmakers by Premier Alden McLaughlin during last year’s budget debate, a total of $1.2 million will be spent in each year from 2018 through 2020 to construct the new police station in West Bay. The government also plans to spend $1 million per year in 2018 and 2019, and then plans to spend $10 million in 2020, on construction of a new central police station in George Town.

The figures are included in the government’s capital projects plan for the next three years. The government has not yet drawn up a budget for the year 2020, but the construction projects plan in the current budget is extended out to 2020.

“We do need a new central police station above all else,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “That is the principle focus of the government with respect to our plan for the police service at this stage.”