EDITORIAL – Scranton’s park: A lesson in self-reliance

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

– Margaret Mead

A cross section of Grand Cayman turned out this past Saturday morning to begin the tough work of transforming a blighted neighborhood park into a clean and safe space for play and recreation.

It was heartening to see such a diverse crowd of citizens, representing all ages and backgrounds, come together under the leadership of MLA Kenneth Bryan to reclaim this plot of land in the central George Town neighborhood of Scranton from the heaps of weeds, trash and refuse that add to the general state of neglect.

On full display this weekend were abundant quantities of cooperation, care and, most importantly, community contributions.

For background, last fall government purchased the derelict property with the intention of cleaning it up and turning it into a park.

Several months of subsequent inaction was more than enough for the neighborhood. With Mr. Bryan leading the effort – he refers to the park as his community’s “dream” – residents, civil servants and other volunteers rolled up their sleeves, picked up their tools and got to work on the project themselves.

Their commitment of time, expenditure of effort and “can-do” attitude (actually, more like “get out of our way”) are laudable, and will benefit the entire neighborhood.

Particular recognition must be given to Mr. Bryan (who out of fairness or more likely, modesty, eschewed taking credit himself, preferring to share the spotlight with the dozens of donors, workers and volunteers who have joined him in this worthwhile effort. Nevertheless, let’s be clear: No Kenneth Bryan, no project.)

There may be some problems in this world which can only be addressed through blue-ribbon panels, tome-like consultants’ reports and hours of parliamentary debate … maybe. But so many more issues can be tackled with individual effort, coordination and personal, not governmental, sweat equity.

Consider, for example, Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller and his North Side constituency taking the initiative when government dragged its feet on installing an athletic field for area schoolchildren.

Or the Herculean efforts that continually take place in the Cayman Islands’ nonprofit sector – where numerous groups have pledged themselves to a myriad of worthy causes, such as feeding the elderly, supplying books to young children, fighting diseases and caring for abandoned cats and dogs. (And do not forget the country’s private schools, which together provide education for more than 40 percent of Cayman’s children, including nearly all of the non-Caymanian students.)

These good Samaritans are stepping in to pick up where Cayman’s sprawling and funds-flush public sector has fallen short.

Public parks. Caring for the ill, elderly or otherwise vulnerable. Animal welfare. Literacy. Education.

Should those be societal goals to be pursued by individual citizens with altruistic intentions? Or core responsibilities that are the remit of a public service with some 6,000 employees and a budget approaching $1 billion per year?

Think about that the next time you find yourself paying stamp duty, the standard 22 percent tax on imported goods, or any of government’s miscellaneous fees … or when you look at the Cayman Compass and see headlines about buyouts of retiring senior officials, globetrotting officials, bureaucratic waste, or the ever-growing costs of our ever-expanding government.

 

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