Plans to enhance Smith Barcadere appears to have been resuscitated.
Government last month issued a tender for construction of phase one of the Smith Barcadere redevelopment project.
The tender, which was published on government’s public procurement portal in late December, is seeking quotations for the construction of a retaining wall, carpark and adjoining office and restroom facility. The tender deadline is today, Jan. 17.
Attempts to get further information on the plans from the government’s Public Works Department, which is in charge of the redevelopment, have proved futile.
The planned phases for the project and its overall cost have not been provided.
George Town South MLA Barbara Conolly told the Cayman Compass, in an emailed statement on the project, that she too could not provide further details on the plans as they were now with the Ministry of Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure.
However, she said she is pleased that government is now in a position for phase 1 of the project to go out to tender.
“My committee and I have been working with the Ministry of Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure to develop a plan to enhance this parcel of land that Government acquired some years ago. With their assistance and the support of the Minister and the Unity
Government, I am excited that we will finally be able to commence this project,” she said.
She assured that no enhancement is being carried out on the land where the cove is situated.
“In the future, we would like to renovate the existing restrooms on that parcel, but no other enhancements are planned for that original site,” she said.
Save the Cove urges transparency
The redevelopment project currently under tender relates to the land adjacent to Smith Barcadere.
That land was purchased by government in 2016 following a public campaign by the group Save the Cove.
The group secured more than 3,000 signatures in a petition urging government to protect the cove from development after local developer Bronte submitted a planning application to build two blocks of condos on the northern part of the property.
Government stepped in and negotiated a deal to buy the property from owner TFG Cayman and the application was withdrawn. Government withdrew $5 million from the Environmental Protection Fund to buy the land.
Founding member of the Save the Cove group and beach-access activist Morne Botes said he was excited that the enhancements were being made.
However, both he and fellow Save the Cove member Taura Ebanks expressed displeasure over the lack of public information on the project.
“I do wish they had shared with the public before they actually put in the tender and got further in the process. I do hope that they’ll share with the public now and they will have an input because it is a public beach and it is for everyone to enjoy,” Botes said.
Ebanks urged the relevant authorities to make all the information around the redevelopment project public.
“It seems like every time money is being spent, the government is keeping these things quiet until they are halfway through a project, and that’s when people start to really get upset,” she said.
The last public consultation on the redevelopment ended with the redesign of the proposed plans.
The public had objected to cabanas at the site, and those were removed from the plans.
Ebanks said she was pleased to see government had listened to the public.
Conolly said the enhancements were not just for her constituents.
“The enhancement of this parcel will not only benefit the residents of George Town South but the wider Cayman Islands locals, residents and visitors alike to enjoy some of the amenities that are proposed for this beautiful site, such as a car park, proper turtle-friendly lighting to ensure a safer environment, and a viewing deck, while still maintaining the cultural importance of the space,” Conolly added.
Botes said he hopes that there will not be a retaining wall like the one constructed at Seven Mile Public Beach, since Smith Barcadere is one of the few remaining sites where the water can be seen from the road.
Opened: 30 Dec. 2019
Closes: 17 Jan. 2020
Phase 1 of the Smith Barcadere Redevelopment project
Construction of retaining wall, carpark and adjoining office and restroom facility