Marl stirs up Finance Committee row

| 28/06/2011

(CNS): MLAs engaged in heated debate during Friday’s Finance Committee session over the fate of marl sitting on site at the now-shelved project to build the Beulah Smith High School in West Bay. Part of the committee’s look at projected 2011/12 appropriations for the Ministry of Education, Training and Employment, the questions raised centred on the $2.1 million spent on site preparation and the marl left piled on the vacated construction area. The plans for Beulah Smith were put on hold in the wake of the global financial meltdown that began in 2008.

In addition, Rolston Anglin the education minister took issue with the decision of the previous PPM government to go ahead with the four school projects – Beulah Smith, John Gray and Clifton Hunter high schools and the renovation of George Town Primary School (which was later shelved) – in the face of the deteriorating global and local economic climates.

As for the marl, the minister said his biggest concern was now securing the material. He added that work done at the site cost a total of $3.4 million, including $1.3 million to local contractor MacAlpine. Premier McKeeva Bush addressed the cost of the now-abandoned site. “As Minister of Finance, my concern is what I’m hearing now about,” he added, referring to the money that has been spent on maintaining the site.

Bush also said the marl constitutes a potential flooding threat. “The high piles of marl are not good for the neighbourhood,” he said, adding that if there were drainage problems, rainwater would back up that could cause serious flooding.Bush said he was worried how potential flooding would affect the area’s natural drainage ability.

“I will ask the minister to revisit (this issue), since we don’t have the money to build Beulah Smith,” he said, pointing out that the piles of marl would have to be moved.

MLA Cline Glidden asked former Minister of Education Alden McLaughlin why his PPM administration went ahead and filled the site with marl, when the government didn’t have the funds to carry the project forward.

McLaughlin said there was extensive discussion and planning about the construction of the three high schools and pointed out that Glidden helped break ground at the Beulah Smith site. He added that government never entered into the $49.8 million contract with MacAlpine because of what was happening in the global and local economies.

“We decided to discontinue a number of projects,” he said, adding, “It was as simple as that.”

In response, Anglin said that planning, caution and living within means “went out the window” over the four years of the PPM government, accusing that administration of poor planning, fiscal irresponsibility and poor decision making.

“I don’t know when the country is going to be able to afford a third high school in Grand Cayman,” Anglin said, adding that they would have to look carefully at the site and decide what to do with the materials there. The choice was to let it erode and lose money or get some value to the country by using “good old Cayman common sense.”

 

 

Category: Politics

Comments (8)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I need some marl, can I have some?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Yah thats the kind of leadership we will get from the PPM Govt. a continious waste of public funds, the reason why the Govt. is broke today and struggling to pay bills.   

  3. Anonymous says:

    Funny how it's never Alden's fault. Always someone/something else to blame. What an expensive fellow he turned out to be over the course of his guardianship of our educational system. And now he wants to run the country, perish the thought.

  4. Anonymous says:

    three point four million for some fill at the west bay site on that " little" piece of land that is now ten or twelve feet higher than the road  . How much was spent on fill for the cliffton hunter school ?  Now that's a monster up north that must of cost us in the tens of millions .

  5. B.B.L. Brown says:

    This whole episode reminds me of the Keystone Kops.  (For those too young to know about the Keystone Kops, they were a comedy group in the movies that never accomplished anything…… doing a lot of running in circles, etc.) 

    Anonymous 7:25…..  I also wonder about that "good old Cayman common sense".

    • hmmmmm says:

      Need to Verify

       

      There is a need to verify where the marl came from, this potentially will lead to other agreements and cronyism of the PPM , somebody screeeeeam.

  6. anonymous says:

    who did they buy the marl from? hmmmm…

  7. Anonymous says:

    Everytime CIG uses "good old Cayman common sense" BOOM!  There goes more money up in smoke. But heaven forbid they use anything else.