Davenport Development on Tuesday refuted claims made by Red Bay candidate, Premier Alden McLaughlin, who earlier in the week announced an agreement for a local access road stretching from Selkirk Drive to the Grand Harbour area.
Davenport Development issued the rebuttal to its Arvia clients – a development Davenport is building at Grand Harbour that the developers say would now face the prospect of having a busy road nearby – saying the company had been “taken by complete surprise of the false words from the candidate for Red Bay, Mr. Alden McLaughlin”.
The statement, signed by developers Paul Pearson and Ken Thompson, explained: “Davenport has not made any recent agreements with the Government regarding the creation of local access at Grand Harbour.”
The statement also says Davenport had been in discussions with government prior to 2020 regarding the access road, the concept of which is aimed at alleviating traffic congestion on Shamrock Road and nearby thoroughfares.
Davenport stated they have not been involved on discussions on the matter “prior to 2020, when the matter was decided, and we were told quite clearly that the access road was off the table”.
The Premier made the announcement while squaring off with opponent, attorney Sammy Jackson.
“The plan is for the creation of local access all the way from Grand Harbour roundabout through to Admiral’s Landing to avoid motorists and residents in that area having to deal with what will become a six-lane highway,” McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin told the Cayman Compass Wednesday he, “simply reported what I understood from the briefing I received from the ministry responsible” and he had, himself, not been present at any of the meetings”.
The Premier apologised, if he “was mistaken in naming Davenport”.
Davenport acknowledged in its statement it is not the owner of the “land in negotiation.”
The landowner for the road in question is Cayman Grand Harbour.
The Compass reached out directly to the Grand Harbour representative Wednesday for comment; we are awaiting a response.
The Premier added Wednesday that the “ministry staff is working on finalising the terms of the agreement before the roadway is gazetted”.
Ministry of Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure Deputy Chief Officer Tristan Hydes, who has been conducting the discussions for the infrastructure works, told the Compass on Wednesday that work is continuing to move the roadworks project ahead.
“These types of negotiations are very complex. I can confirm we have met with the owner of the [Grand Harbour] road and made significant progress, which has been very positive and – as the Premier noted – we will continue through in the coming months to see a local access road that is amenable to everyone,” Hydes told the Compass in a telephone interview Wednesday.
Davenport said the Premier’s announcement has “upset” clients who have been “calling since this broadcast, questioning Davenport’s integrity since we communicated the Government’s earlier position [that there would be no connecting road]. They purchased and have been misled by the words of the Unity Government that we passed on to them”.
The developers stated: “These words have sabotaged our business and our reputation, something that is abhorrent to us”.
In the Premier’s statement on Wednesday, McLaughlin acknowledged the developers’ objections were “disappointing”.
He added: “Their development will disgorge dozens more vehicles on to an already severely overtaxed Red Bay road system. When they started the development they would have been aware of the issue and that the development would make traffic matters worse”.
McLaughlin stated he believed “that this local access road will only enhance Davenport’s ability to sell their units”.
He said that, “as the representative of Red Bay and Premier,” he was “out of patience”.
“We must resolve this issue now,” McLaughlin said.
Davenport, in a further statement to its Arvia clients on the issue, Wednesday afternoon, agreed its approval is not required for the roadworks and “we have no objections and never have had any, to a sensible solution to the traffic congestion of the area”.
However, the developer pointed out, “we are the owners of the largest mixed family use development in the area and as such one would have thought the government would have consulted us, especially given our reputation as good corporate citizens”.