There’s one group not listed on the KAABOO marquee, but which may be just as important to the Feb. 15 and 16 festival as the bands on stage.
No, Sting won’t be here with his old buddies, but there will be plenty of uniformed personnel, along with traffic cameras, a helicopter, a marine patrol unit and a strategic plan for road and lane closures that is intended to keep traffic flowing around the event.
“This is the biggest event we’ve seen in the Cayman Islands,” said Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Acting Inspector Roje Williams, speaking at a Thursday press conference where police detailed their plans on handling the logistics of moving up to 10,000 people in and out of the festival grounds north of the Kimpton Seafire resort on both days of the entertainment festival, on Feb. 15-16.
Police Superintendent Robert Graham said he and others do not want the event to have a negative impact on residents and visitors, but he’s hoping for their patience.
“There are pieces in place to make sure traffic is flowing at all times,” he said, adding that there will be restrictions that will require some drivers to go out of their way to reach their destinations. “I think it’s important that we give plenty of warning and plenty of notice.”
The two main north/south arteries along Seven Mile Beach will be most affected. Police announced the following plans:
West Bay Road will be closed to northbound traffic at Lime Tree Bay Avenue except for festival attendees, local residents and people visiting Public Beach.
Signs will be in place to divert northbound traffic from West Bay Road to Esterley Tibbetts Highway beginning at the Fidelity Roundabout.
Esterley Tibbetts Highway will remain open in both directions. However, access to West Bay Road at Public Beach Roundabout will be blocked. Northbound traffic from Public Beach Roundabout will be funneled into a single lane, with the left lane reserved for shuttles and taxis serving the festival.
At Yacht Club Roundabout, access to West Bay Road will be blocked to northbound traffic. Northbound traffic on Esterley Tibbetts will remain restricted to the right lane up to the roundabout.
The speed limit on Esterley Tibbetts Highway between Lime Tree Bay and Yacht Club roundabouts will be reduced from 40 mph to 25 mph.
The Esterley Tibbetts overpass will be closed to pedestrians and bicycles, which will be diverted to a footpath on the east side of the highway. Temporary screening will prohibit viewing the festival from the overpass.
Beach access will remain open to the public along the entirety of Seven Mile Beach, Superintendent Graham said, although that access area will be narrow in the Tiki Beach area where festival amenities will be set up.
Motorcycle and patrol units will be present to keep motorists from parking along Esterley Tibbetts Highway, Mr. Graham said.
“The most important thing,” he said, “is nobody will be stopped from going where they want.”
Acting Inspector Williams said businesses such as Cost-U-Less have indicated they plan to hire private security to keep their parking lots free for customers.
Police spokeswoman Jacqueline Carpenter said any major interruptions or changes in the system would be posted on the RCIPS website, and notifications would be sent out on the department’s phone app.
Police officials declined to say how many police officers would be dedicated to KAABOO traffic enforcement. Twenty-three police academy cadets are being enlisted to help, but no other outside personnel are involved.
Mr. Graham said regular police operations would not be affected.
“We will have our normal aspects of policing for normal calls,” he said.
He said KAABOO will be paying for a portion of the additional cost of traffic control around the event. That amount, he said, will be determined after the festival, when the actual costs to the department are known.