‘Hurricane Hilton’ transformation planned on Brac

| 16/10/2013

(CNS): The deputy premier and minister with responsibility for the Sister Islands has announced his intention to transform the controversial and costly hurricane shelter on Cayman Brac into a new high school through a phased development. In what he said was the spirit of doing more with less, Moses Kirkconnell told his legislators last week that government intended to “re-purpose the hurricane shelter on the Bluff”, also known as the Hurricane Hilton due to the hefty price tag and luxury additions, into a new high school. The project is in the early stages, with the initial concept drawings currently being discussed by his ministry, public works and the education ministry.

The only secondary school on Cayman Brac was constructed more than 40 years ago and is in need of upgrading, the minister stated. 

“This repurposing will minimize the cost of building a new school by using the structure already built and completing it as a purpose-built secondary school,” he said. “During emergencies, it can function as a hurricane shelter, thereby serving as a dual-purpose facility.”

As it also already adjoins the sports field, students will have access to world class facilities, eliminating the costs associated with building a separate field, Kirkconnell explained.

“It is envisioned that the main building of the project as it currently stands will serve as a multipurpose hall, the heart of the school, if you will,” he said. “The upstairs areas of the current main building will serve as the administration area. It is also envisioned that classroom blocks canbe built out from the existing main building in order to suit the educational needs of our students.”

Kirkconnell promised more specific information and updates as soon as he was able on the project, which he said would ensure the long-term sustainability of the delivery of education tostudents on Cayman Brac.

As the first elected member for the district, during his budget presentation last week, Kirkconnell listed a number of development initiatives for his constituents. While plans to upgrade the tourism infrastructure on Cayman Brac will likely be welcomed, plans for a new airport on Little Cayman may find opposition from some quarters, as they did when first proposed ten years ago.

Kirkconnell said that efforts were already underway by the Cayman Islands Airports Authority to build an airport that will be compliant with international aviation standards. 

“This proposed facility will be constructed on Cayman Islands Airport Authority property.  The first phase of this project will be the runway," he said. “It will allow for a more cost-effective turbo prop aircraft to service Little Cayman.” 

He also said there were plans for a new boat ramp and dock for the north shore on Little Cayman, a continuation of the road improvement programme, and ongoing dialogue with the tourism partners on the Island to maintain and enhance their tourism offering.

Meanwhile, on Cayman Brac, Kirkconnell spelled out an ambitious programme of development, including the enhancement of the Charles Kirkconnell International Airport, which would include an area for hold baggage screening, with an X-ray Machine for checked baggage to allow for the processing of international flights in Cayman Brac. 

“With this increased capacity in place in Cayman Brac, it will allow a Cayman Airways route to destinations in Eastern Cuba,” he said.  “This initiative has great potential, given the lucrative market that eastern Cuba represents.”

Further phases of expansion will see a departure lounge and an enlarged arrivals facility to help relieve some of the stress on Owen Roberts Airport.

The deputy premier also indicated the resumption of an initiative that was the goal of the previous PPM administration to position Cayman Brac as a suitable location for back-office work, as he outlined the proposal for the establishment of a Cayman Airways Reservations Centre on Cayman Brac. 

He noted that a reservation centre could be established almost anywhere because of advances in technology. "Through the work of my ministry, together with Cayman Airways, this facility will be established shortly," he said, saying it would promote job growth on the Brac and the disaster mitigation efforts of Cayman Airways. The reservations centre would be coupled with a Cayman Airways Cargo Facility, adding services and employment on the Sister Islands to add to the long term sustainability of the islands.

He also announced the commencement of ‘Tall Ships’ calling on Cayman Brac as well as Grand Cayman early next year. “The route to be sailed is Grand Cayman, Southern Cuba, Cayman Brac, and back to Grand Cayman,” he revealed. “These tall ships will bring adventure-minded tourists to experience the unique qualities of each island,” he said, benefiting employment on Cayman Brac through the transportation of cruise visitors on various tours. 

“The types of tours envisioned are a general island-wide tour, an historical tour, and a tour of our caves. There will also be opportunities for cruise visitors to be taken on scuba and snorkelling excursions. Additional expressions of interest regarding potential sites to be visited are the Lighthouse on the Bluff, the Public Beach, and the Brac Reef Beach Resort.

With plans to upgrade the Brac's certified FIFA pitch on the Bluff with changing rooms, bleachers, perimeter fencing and flag poles, he said international football matches could be played on Cayman Brac so the island couldn benefit from the countrywide push for sports tourism.

“Just this week we met with CONCACAF reps to discuss how they will use this field for future Cayman Island tournaments. This project will also provide temporary employment on Cayman Brac during the construction period,” he added.

The minister announced the plan to install piped water throughout Cayman Brac. He said the Water Authority had approved a plan and work is scheduled to commence in November, creating at least eight new jobs as well as the new service, which he said would add to the long-term sustainability of the community.

Kirkconnell said government was committed to growing job opportunities and improving the quality of life in a way that was “sensitive to the character of each island”.

See the deputy premier's full presentaiton below.

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  1. Braccanal says:

    If we play this right, we can make the Brac a full service, gated community where peace loving people can live the good life a safe 90 miles away from Gaza, er Grand Cayman!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    More unnecessary subsidies for the Brac.  Why not try to make the "Sister Islands" self-funding.  It is very needy and very ungrateful sibling.

    • Anonymous says:

      You weren't singing that tune after Hurricane Ivan.   'nuff said.

      • Anonymous says:

        WELL SAID!!!! And I bet that CRAB was one of them who ran to Cayman Brac too after Ivan!

  3. C. Ebanks says:

    Way to go finally some one with sum great ideas to help the economy of The Sister Islands. Thank you first elected member for The Sister Islands as we are part of this country also. And to the negative poster as a proud Cayman Bracker keep your comments to youself. Do you really know how many residents on Grand Cayman have homes on the Brac. Further more a few good amount of the businesses on Grand Cayman are owned by proud Cayman Brackers, Thank You.

  4. Anonymous says:

    See how business people thinks….. It can be a school every day and when there is a hurricane people can still shelter there. Perhaps there wont be special rooms for certain people like the Paloma funds but they can take shelter however.Keep up the good works Capt Mose.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Capt: Mose we know our vote was in the right box. Thank you.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Yes Miss Ju Ju, "No matter how bad Teacher is the Day mus finish". In other words "every length of Rope has an end to it". Good idea Mo Mo. Mostly every family has a house on the Brac that they can take shelter with in time of storm. If not there are other Government buildings there as well.  Then on the other hand every house but ONE was put in better shape by Government after the Paloma, I believe that was the house where she was born. Bracas was tired of having a barefotted girl spend their money foolishly. After all  Brac Students are some of the smartest in the world and should be given every good facility. Again thank you Capt; Mose.

  7. Anonymous says:

    In modern budgeting terms, Cayman Brac is a "transfer payment". This means masses of money is paid to it (for unnecessary highly paid civil service posts, paving of driveways, Olympic style athletic tracks and so on ) with no real expectation that anything will return to the Treasury from that transfer payment. Just think, what can these civil servants possibly have to do all day every day in a sleepy place of about 2000 people? Yet the District Commissioner and hisDeputy, if you check the published salary scales, get between them, around $230,000 a year. Can you imagine the stress and strain they go through to earn that?

  8. BracFan says:

    Good plans for the Brac.   Thank you Mr. Kirkconnell for your dedication to improving the Sister Islands.  

  9. Anonymous says:

    Ahhh, High School Hilton, dats better. Obviously we don't need a hurricane shelter any more now that what's her name got re-elected. Whatever happened about all those illegally paved driveways I wonder?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Where's the money coming from to do all these projects?  Thought the C.I. Government was in debt?  Mrs Moses are you going to help finance these project with a few millions of your bucks?

  11. Anonymous says:

    with all respect to Mr. Moses but if Government has money  to do any kind of work FINISH  off John Gray High School first .

    • Anonymous says:

      The John Gray High School as well as the new Layman Scott High School should be looked at in respect to completion and both projects should be looked at as being financed through partnership with private sector individuals. 

  12. Anonymous says:

    agian this is just more work to keep brac gov workers occupied….

    cayman crac = welfare state

  13. Anonymous says:

    wow…and the ppm have such a great track record for building schools…

    • Anonymous says:

      They certainly do. We have one of the best schools in the region.

      • Anonymous says:

        In spite of mckeewa.

      • Anonymous says:

        If you are referring to Clifton Hunter High School, I think you would change your mind about that statement, if you had been at the last PTA meeting. As one teacher so rightly put it…."All that glitters is NOT gold!". That school should have never been an open plan school! Especially when you have kids going there with all sorts of issues, such ADHD/ADD and behavioural issues. The kids are struggling to concentrate is that environment. They can't concentrate, when you have kids being disruptive and teachers trying to teach over the sound of another class going on just behind the cabinets or what ever it is they are using for dividers! And to make matters worse the majority of those teachers, who by the way, I have alot of respect and admiration for, for taking on the role of a teacher, are unfortunately not equipped to deal with kids with learing disabilities such as ADHD/ADD and the behavioural issues that come with those disabilities.  The kids are cramped into a tiny space at lunch time to eat their lunches, because there is no or very limited outdoor seating area for the kids to have their lunch under. The kids are literally fighting to get lunch at lunch time and some of those who can't bother with the fight are going without lunch! The kids are fighting to get water at lunch and break time because there's too many kids and not enough water coolers. A parent even suggested that the kids bring there own water to school for the lack of water coolers and kids being able to get water. The school grounds floods when it rains, the water pours off the side of the building and straight down on you when you are going into the administration area. There is little covering when the kids are being dropped off or picked up from school. And the list goes on…..CHHS is far from what I would call the best shcool in the region. I looks good, but it's not functionable for a school of over 900 kids that's for sure!!

        • Anonymous says:

          Then we need to make it functional for a school of over 900 kids, including buying some more water coolers and maybe installing some rain gutters, condemning the school most certainly won't help.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Just as Julie planned.., someone else will come along and make it into a sensibly-used building, LOL!


    But it couldnt have been done without her 'vision' to build it in the first place. Watch and see if she is not a major part of the "ribbon-cutting" ceremony they wil plan for this new 'school'


    Once again rewarded for incompetence!

  15. Anonymous says:

    What a difference a year makes. At last real ideas for developing Cayman Brac to allow it become a productive part of the Cayman economy. Much better than just wasting money as has been the norm for years.

    • Anonymous says:

      Unless oil is discovered there there is a snowball's chance in Hell that the Brac will EVER become a "economic partner" in this island trio. Lets face it, it is expensive as hell over there, thee is nothing to go for and to top it off the people of the Brac does not want change (only intheir pockets). The Brac will forever be a financial drain on Grand Cayman. Forever will they cry for handouts as they have always done. It would be interesting to see the financial data on exactly how much of the overall GDP is direclty attributed to the Brac. I am willing to bet it is a fraction of a precentage. But yet millions are spent there on social services and social welfare projects.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Cayman Brac has the highest value of Government Infrastructure per capita in the world. They have pristine roads, empty Governments Buildings and related facilities that are hardly used. On any given day one can drive from the west end of Cayman Brac to the end of the road at Spot Bay and never past another vehicle or pedestrian. Government revenue from the Brac is probably less than $50,000.00 (thousand) per year and the annual expenditure is probably in the region of $50,000,000.00 (million). Grand Cayman has the poorest roads, Government Buildings, facilities, services, etc., while the money collected in Grand Cayman is wasted in the Brac to keep everyone employed and happy. And to add insult to injury, Cayman Brac residents are exempt from paying nearly all the fees and taxes we pay in Grand Cayman. Enough is enough or will it never end.


    • Anonymous says:

      It's sad that comments like your's actually gets posted because nothing that you have written is accurate. You obviously know absolutely nothing about Cayman Brac.

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree, they have probably never even been to the Brac!

        • Anonymous says:

          Have been to the Brac — nice place —  spent a few dollars– anything to help the sisters of the poor island–nice to get all the benefits —while the the rest of us struggle == paying your taxes

    • Anonymous says:

      I have a grand idea:    Why don't you spend a couple of weeks in Cayman Brac;   when you return, you might actually know what you are talking about.    As it stands, it appears you are creating untrue factoids to support your pissy attitude about the Brac and Brackers.   

  17. Anonymous says:

    Is a new school really necessary at this time?  How much money has been wasted to date?  Why are the politicians who were involved in the decision to build the Hilton not being hauled before a LA committee?  What did Moses say about this project before building started?

  18. Anonymous says:

    Why didn't they build a high school in the first place that could also be uesd as a hurricane shelter?  Government waste never stops.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Wow way to go Moses.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Now this makes much more sense than another "hurricane only" shelter/hotel.  Mr. Kirkconnell, we applaud you for having the foresight and common sense to utilise this building for something other than a monument.

    Looking forward to more great projects happening.  The Brac has been left behind because of the greediness of Grand Cayman for too long. 

  21. Anonymous says:

    Sounds good my leader! You have did more for us than the other elected member did her 5th term in office! Wp Bracka

    • Anonymous says:

      Here is hoping that the IT work to set up the reservation  System will go out to tender and not just given to Brac Informatics.