Archive for March 4th, 2013

West Bay Road still open

West Bay Road still open

| 04/03/2013 | 53 Comments

west bay road closure_0.jpgCNS): Although members of the interim government said they expected the first stretch of the West Bay Road earmarked for closure to close before the end of February, the road remained open Monday (4 March) and there was no news from government about the road or the legal claim filed by local activists. Government was silent on the issue after the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing was cancelled Thursday due to bereavement, and calls and emails to all Cabinet members were not answered. It is not yet clear if government and Dart have encountered difficulties regarding the closure of the stretch of road or if the legal action taken by four women in West Bay on behalf of the various opponents to the road closure has stayed the decision.

The controversial move, which is part of the ForCayman Investment Alliance between government and Dart, includes the eventual closure of more than 4,000 feet of the West Bay Road, which will be absorbed into Dart land, creating a new stretch of beachfront property for the developer. Tourism Minister Cline Glidden had said that the first stretch of around 1,200 feet was set to close last week to facilitate an upgrade to public beach in time for an international volleyball tournament being held at the location during Easter weekend and to improve facilities for the traditional camping.

Once it is closed, traffic will be diverted onto the Esterley Tibbetts Highway via a new access point where Governor’s Way used to be and the existing road at Raleigh Quay by the side of the Courtyard Marriott, cutting off the West Bay Road through route for what activists say is the first time in some 100 years.

However, four women filed an action under the bill of rights Monday asking a judge to examine the various issues relating to the road and find that the closure is unlawful and prevent the transfer of the crown land to the developer. Government has not yet commented on the legal action and since the announcement by Glidden and Environment Minister Mark Scotland on 14 February, when the ministers said they expected the road to close any day, the closure has become less certain.

The proposed imminent closure relates to the NRA-Dart deal signed in December 2011, which Premier Juliana O'Connor-Connolly has said the Cayman government is legal bound to honour, despite the lack of transparency surrounding the deal and the fact that an independent review carried out by local consultant auditors, PricewaterhouseCoopers, has never been made public.

The deal itself has remained under wraps, though the early agreement was leaked to independent MLAs Arden McLean and Ezzard Miller last year and published on CNS. It is understood that the original deal has been modified but those details have never made their way into the public domain.

Scotland said the review by PWC found the deal to be “good value” and stated on 14 February that the report would be released to the public after 8 March, when Cabinet was expected to receive the final revised version along with the revised agreement.

The most recent amendment to the deal is understood to be in connection with the provision by the developer of a second public beach as part of the land swap. The Cabinet ministers said that a decision had been taken by government to accept a piece of beachfront belonging to Dart at Barkers and a small parcel of land by Smith Cove as part of the crown land swap rather than a smaller piece of beach along the West Bay Road by Victoria House, north of the existing public beach.

The Cabinet members all said that the financial value of the swap was the same, but in terms of practical solutions and the needs of the local community, this land swap was more beneficial. Scotland and Glidden both argued that the amendments made to the agreement during the course of the recent negotiations had nothing to do with clawing anything back in the deal or any questions about the value for money.

Related articles on CNS:

Road closure days away

Road activists turn to courts

Dart  to take 50% taxes  (Includes original agreement documents)

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George Town harbour front road remains closed

George Town harbour front road remains closed

| 04/03/2013 | 8 Comments

P8300073.JPG(CNS): High winds and waves from this weekend's Nor’wester have covered the roads around the harbour front with debris and remain closed, police said Monday morning. Motorist are advised to avoid this area, where waves are still crashing onto the roads. The RCIPS closed a section of North Church Street, from the junction of Goring Avenue to South Church Street, from lunchtime Sunday and it is not yet clear when the roads will open again. Cayman experienced cool weather over the weekend as a cold front over Jamaica and a high pressure system over the western Gulf of Mexico interacted, causing fresh northerly winds and rough seas. A small craft warning remains in effect.

According to the local weather forecast, the cool weather will persist for most of this week and moderate to fresh northeast winds and rough seas will persist through Tuesday evening.

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