Objectors to government’s proposed enhancements at Smith Barcadere are set to hold what they have called a peaceful protest picnic this Saturday at the popular beach.

The protest, which starts at 10am, has been organised by the group People for the Protection of Smith Barcadere.

Group member Michelle Lockwood told the Cayman Compass she hopes Saturday will “illustrate the power of community and what can be done when we come together.”

“I think the beauty of Smith Barcadere is in the community. Everyone knows and loves Smith Barcadere. Locals and tourists alike. The community never asked for an enhancement. It was perfect as it is. No cabana will provide shade any better than the trees that exist there already do,” she said.

“The parking has become an issue but the police should be monitoring this more effectively. This beach is for locals and we are slowly being pushed out of other beaches. Public Beach is no longer a quiet option, Governor’s Beach is overrun.”

The group, in a statement to the Cayman Compass Thursday, said the purpose of the protest is to bring further awareness to the proposed redevelopment and its impact on the natural state of Smith Barcadere.

“The public should be given respect and a full opportunity for written and oral consultation should be carried out prior to any commencement of clearing or building on the property, so a fully informed decision can be made,” the statement read.

The group’s executive consists of Linda Clark, Alric Lindsay, Berna Cummins and Shirley Roulstone, among others. This week, the group posted a sign on South Sound Road saying, “Protect Smith Barcadere, No Changes”.

Government has issued a tender for phase one of redevelopment plan for the South Church Street beach. The Ministry of Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure has said it will begin enhancements to the beach next month.

The ministry said work will mainly be done on the land purchased adjacent to the popular beach and there will be no interference with the existing beach.

According to tender documents, phase one includes construction of a retaining wall, a carpark, and adjoining office and restroom facility.

The enhancement has drawn widespread criticism from the public, including from members of the Save the Cove group.

Drawings submitted with the tender had initially shown two timber cabanas, a 45-space carpark, new restroom facilities, six deck platforms, walking pathways, accessibility ramps and mat, and lighting.

The ministry, in a statement on the project, said only one cabana will be added to the beach. The artist rendering submitted with the statement also showed a smaller carpark.

For members of People for the Protection of Smith Barcadere, that is not good enough.
“Residents prefer minimal changes, with the preference being no changes to Smith Barcadere. In addition, various architectural designs were published in December 2019 and these appear to have suddenly changed on 8 February 2020,” the group said.

“There are endangered species on the property, which highlights the need for upfront involvement of other government experts, such as the Department of Environment, which as yet seem to have not been consulted,” the statement added.

However, the ministry, in its statement, said there are some non-native vegetation, such as invasive ‘pop-nut’ trees that will be removed to allow for the construction of the parking lot.

Additionally, it said, local vegetation, such as coco-plum and seagrape trees, will be added to improve shading and beautification at the popular site.

The Smith Barcadere Committee is managing the project. It has said that covenants are in place to restrict commercial activities on the enhanced park and beach.