The Cayman Islands government now owns a little piece of Hell.
Lands Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly informed the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday afternoon that a section of the Hell formation in West Bay was among 16 plots of land acquired by the government in the past year. Just over $6 million was spent on the real estate, which includes sites across Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac.
The parcels include a 350-foot stretch of ironshore in East End incorporating the Blow Holes. O’Connor-Connolly said the government paid $295,000 using environmental protection funds for that piece of real estate.
Other parcels included beachfront property in North Side adjacent to Bo Miller Beach, South Sound’s Bel Air Pond, a “key mangrove” area in Barkers and seven beachfront or ironshore pieces of land in Cayman Brac.
The land was purchased, O’Connor-Connolly said, for the “purpose of protecting the environment”, as well as maintaining public access to Cayman’s beaches.
The government allocated $10 million last year for such purchases. O’Connor-Connolly said her fellow Legislative Assembly members nominated 48 parcels of land as potential purchases. Not all of the properties nominated qualified as environmentally sensitive, she said.
Two market evaluations were conducted on each parcel and, where landowners were interested in possibly selling, the ministry engaged in negotiations to find an agreeable price between the two evaluations. Some of those negotiations are ongoing.
“Some of the evaluations by some of the property owners were deemed, in their opinion, not to be a reasonable price,” she said. “But we want the property and we’re trying to do it within the legal parameters that we have.”
O’Connor-Connolly was requesting authorisation to continue purchasing additional parcels with the $3.9 million remaining from the original allocation. She received that approval.