The Cayman Islands government is in a bidding battle to preserve a small park area in the central George Town neighborhood of Scranton.
The 0.25 acre property, located at the end of Myles Lane, off Shedden Road, is the only park area left for residents of the older, lower-income neighborhood which is rapidly finding itself surrounded by newer, much higher-value developments, including Cricket Square and the Government Administration Building.
The land is privately owned, but it abuts some Crown-held land at the back of the Government Administration Building along Elgin Avenue. Until recently, the owner had allowed residents there to use the small lot as a park.
The property went on the market recently and the real estate agent representing the owner said she has received several offers for the land. As of Tuesday, the owner had not decided to accept any.
District MLA Kenneth Bryan wrote to Cabinet members Monday urging government to find cash to purchase the property and preserve it for future public use.
“The owner of this property [has] been very kind to the residents of the community to allow the property to be used, free of cost, for over 20 years as a park,” Mr. Bryan wrote. “Unfortunately, the family has now decided they are selling the property.
“Ultimately, this will mean that there will no longer be a designated area in the community for community events.”
Premier McLaughlin said Monday that he and former George Town MLA Kurt Tibbetts have been trying to get the landowner to sell the property to government “for the past decade” but that the owner was not willing to sell before now.
“The property only came on the market last week and we have already spoken with its owner,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “There is a process that must be followed. There is no need for alarm.”
Mr. McLaughlin accused Mr. Bryan of “playing politics” with the neighborhood issue and said the George Town Central MLA should have called him before he “ran to the media with his alarm.”
“We have the matter well in hand,” the premier said. “I am personally addressing the matter.”
Mr. Bryan said he attempted to contact the premier about the pending land sale last week and received no response. The independent MLA, who defeated Progressives party incumbent Finance Minister Marco Archer in last year’s elections, said he was concerned his district would be left out on the park proposal because he was not in the government.
Mr. Bryan said he understood the offer price of the 0.25 acre plot was between $250,000 and $300,000, but he said the government could expand the small park if it wished, using the tract of Crown-owned land behind it as well.
The George Town MLA said he was hopeful, after hearing about the premier’s remarks Monday, that a solution could be found and the park preserved.