Plans for Cayman kai spark debate over beach access

An application to put up public bathrooms and parking spaces at the public beach by Starfish Point was approved this week. – PHOTOS: TANEOS RAMSAY

Plans for public toilets and a parking lot at a small public beach in Cayman Kai have been approved despite strong objections from neighboring residents.

Property owners in the residential community sought to claim the area, close to Starfish Point, should never have been made a public beach in the first place.

Though the land is publicly owned and zoned “land for public purposes,” neighboring landowners wrote to the Central Planning Authority to claim that “public” in this context is meant to mean the residents of the Cayman Kai subdivision.

They also claimed the community was governed by “restrictive covenants” which would be breached if the restrooms and parking lot were approved.

Brett Basdeo, a lawyer from Walkers, representing one of the objectors at Wednesday’s meeting, said there was no evidence that the facility was needed by the local community. In fact, he said the “community” of local residents were against it.

He added that the beach appeared to be being used for commercial activity and residents feared that this would be exacerbated if toilets and parking facilities were put in place.

Another objector, in a letter to the authority, said the area was unsuitable for a public beach and residents were baffled as to how and when this had happened.

Loud music, the sound of car engines and littering from the site caused a nuisance for the property owners, they claimed.

“Providing facilities on the site will only encourage further traffic to the site and exacerbate this antisocial activity by increasing the numbers of persons visiting the site and using it in an indiscriminate manner,” the letter stated.

North Side legislator Ezzard Miller also appeared before the CPA to give his support for the application, put forward by the Ministry of Tourism.

He said he was disappointed and “deeply troubled” that “wealthy guests whom the Cayman Islands has afforded the opportunity and the privilege of living and developing property in North Side have taken a stance that propels the construction of a much-needed public facility into a them-against-us situation.”

He said the plan had originated with his North Side district council and filled an indisputable public need in the community based on years of consultation.

He said the objectors were not bringing any complaints about the planning application itself, but appeared to be against the concept of a public beach at this location. He said this was government policy and was not something for the CPA to determine.

He added, “if these owners were objecting to non policy matters, such as the architectural features of the facility, this would become the purview of the CPA and I would be happy to entertain their suggestions for improvements.”

Mr. Miller said the beach had been made public land as part of an agreement with another landowner when a road that led to the beach was closed. He said the North Side community had always enjoyed a good relationship with residents at Cayman Kai that had ensured access for North Siders to maintain their “traditional fishing, picnicking, and sea bathing” activities.

But he castigated a “new crop of owners” who he said were seeking to restrict that access.

CPA chair A.L. Thompson said it was not up to the CPA to enforce the restrictive covenants of a private development, saying that was a civil matter.

But he told the objectors the authority would consider the application on its merits and it would not necessarily be approved just because it was being brought by the government. Following their deliberations it was announced the project had been approved.

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