DoE: Dilbert marina ‘flawed’

| 28/02/2014

(CNS): The Department of Environment has urged to Cabinet not to approve a coastal works application to cut a channel into Saltwater Pond on Cayman Brac as part of a plan to build a marina at the location, finding that the proposal was “so demonstrably damaging to the environment and fundamentally flawed” that it was not even worth the cost of doing an environmental impact assessment. As well as serious concerns regarding the proposal’s impact on the marine and bird life, the DoE Technical Review Committee found that breaching the protective storm ridge in front of the pond with a 100-foot wide channel would expose both coastal and inland properties, potentially as far as the airport, to increased flood risk and storm damage from the sea.

The increased risk of storm damage to surrounding properties, including the Alexander Hotel, which is owned by the coastal works applicant, Cleveland Dilbert, was among a list of issues that the review found had not been addressed in the application.

There was no supporting technical report to determine the feasibility of excavating the channel with a mechanical excavator, which was the stated intention in the application, nor was there any technical information to support the safe operation of the channel design, orientation and placement, and there was no evidence of any engineering study regarding the structure of the breakwater, or groyne, which Dilbert intends to build by placing large boulders onto the seabed.

The committee pointed out that this structure would need to be properly engineered to withstand high energy wave activity without damage to the structure or neighbouring coastline properties. “The department would have expected to see documentation of the engineering considerations utilized in the design of the rock groyne breakwater, including a cross section profile drawing depicting height and slopes employed, size of rocks etc,” the review noted.

The DoE found significant issues with the proposed method for excavationof the channel. While the application stated that silt screens would be used to control sedimentation in order to protect the reef, the scientists conducting the review said the use of silt screens in the rough offshore conditions in this area was “simply not feasible”.

Addressing the proposal that the rock groyne would serve as the road from which the channel will be excavated, the review noted, “The typical reach of a mechanical excavator is less than 40 ft so it will not be possible to dig the entire 100 ft width of the channel from a single groyne. The oblique angle of the end of the seaward end of the channel will require a significant fill pad to create the required reach for the excavator. The fill pads will be vulnerable to wave activity and will generate a significant amount of sediment for the many months the construction will require.”

Responding to concerns raised by the National Trust, which are supported by the findings of the DoE technical committee, Dilbert said in a release Thursday that the Trust had been “grossly misinformed”.

While the DoE, which has made extensive and long term scientific studies of the reefs, found that opening the channel would have a severe detrimental impact on what they have found is the healthiest coral reef on the Brac, Dilbert said he had received a “number of phone calls from divers” discrediting National Trust’s concerns regarding the damage to dive sites in the area from the development of his marina.

The DoE scientists not only found that the initial dredging plans would damage the reef from the resulting sedimentation but that frequent maintenance dredging to keep the channel clear would present an ongoing issue. However, Dilbert, without any apparent scientific evidence, dismissed any risk of sedimentation. Their plans, he said, were to first excavate the basin (within the pond), “then start the channel afterwards, connecting the two at the very last stage, after the basin has had a chance to settle”.

Dilbert wrote in his release, “It is certainly no secret to people familiar with turtle nesting habitats in Cayman Brac that this area of the coastline is certainly not a popular area for nesting turtles.” However, the DoE, which actually leads the study of nesting turtles in the Cayman Islands, stated clearly that the works would, in fact, “require the removal of active turtle nesting beach”.

The DoE also found that the business case for the marina had not been made: “The scale and extent of impacts associated with this project, including impacts to surrounding properties, are too significant to adopt a ‘build it and they will come’ approach. In addition to the fact that the seabed is Crown property, Saltwater Pond is still a Crown-owned parcel … and the government has a duty to ensure the best and highest use of this property for the benefit of all the people of the Cayman Islands. The applicant should therefore be required to produce detailed market research and a robust business case which is commensurate with the significance and magnitude of the predicted impacts to public resources.”

In lieu of any actual business case, Dilbert found proof of the economic viability of his marina in the fact that someone else had also made an application to build one.

“Surely we all can agree that if another developer is also pursuing the same initiative then that is only demonstrative of the private sector’s opinion as to the viability of operating more than one safe harbour in Cayman Brac,” he said in his release, finding additional evidence in the conditional approval given to his proposal by the Development Control Board. The DCB, “comprised of full time residents of Cayman Brac, successful business men and women,having recommended approval of all three safe harbours, shares this sentiment.”

The DoE technical committee concluded, “A proposal of this scale and location would ordinarily require an Environmental Impact Assessment to aid in decision making and potential mitigation. However given the probability, magnitude and significance of the potential impacts, the DoE is confident that an EIA would likely not provide any additional justification or mitigation opportunities that would support approval or demonstrate that the benefits of the projects outweigh the costs.”

Dilbert noted that both CNS and the National Trust had erroneously stated that the area to be dredged was 19.25 acres of sea bottom, which was the figure he had mistakenly used on his application that both the Trust and CNS had seen in the planning department. The actual areas affected would be 0.12 acres of seagrass and 1.73 acres of seabed, with the removal of 17,000 cubic yards from the seabed.

However, DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie told CNS that this error did not affect the findings of their review of the proposal.

See DoE Technical Review Committee report and Cleveland Dilbert's release below.

Related article on CNS:

Three marina plans for Brac

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  1. Green Hornet says:

    So let's talk about Brac marinas for a moment. The first biggie proposal came in 1967 from a Mr. Danzler. It went through various metamorpheses – reappearing again sometime in the 1980s and again the 1990s. It clashed with the Brac airport expansion and thus never saw the light of day. However, combined with the airport expansion it enabled the de-listing of the westerly ponds as animal sanctuaries.

    Next came the Bat Cave marina proposed by a consortium of Texans (I believe they were from that state) in the 1980s. They told the government the road running along the shoreline needed to be moved to the foot of the Bluff and then they coiuld build their marina. Government moved the road. No Texans and no marina – but probably lots of cash got stashed here.

    Now we have not one but 3 marinas planned. Salt Water Pond got delisted as the Brac's last rermaining animal sanctuary (and thus protected) when the owner of the Alexander and our former premier made a deal to do just that. Oh, by the way, has anyone noticed that somebody has strarted filling in the eastern end of this pond? Maybe in anticipation of building a boathouse or something? And the lady from eastern Europe has not one but two proposals – one for each side of the island. Perhaps the one next to Scott's Dock would do the least environmental harm. The blowing sand and dust from years of  loading onto barges gravel and sand from the elimination of the western Bluff  to fill Grand Cayman's swamps has pretty much done in all the coral in the marine park to the westof Scott's dock. 

    Apart from the earlier ill-fated adventures, has anyone really done an market studny on just how many yachts would make it to the Brac from the Eastern Caribbean where they mostly hang-out? It surely couldn't be that getting rid of the smell of the pond is the main motive behind that marina. No, of course not, silly me.

    The Brac is littered with these kind of proposed pie-in-the-sky developments that never seem to materialise. I wonder why?



  2. Anonymous says:

    Full planning laws need to be extended to the Sister Islands.

  3. Otherview says:

    Employment potential?…….1 or 2 years of local enslavement for a pittance, and only harsh labor for a few Bracers who will endure…….then 1 man to mind the rarely used gas pumps.

    No future for Bracer employment in this scheme.

    • Anonymous says:

      You can hear a violin pitifully whine in the background.

    • Anonymous says:

      Self-Serve gas pumps. Anyone fillign a boat is probabyl using a card anyway.  Some may still use cheques but woudlyou take a cheque from a 'visiting' boater?

  4. Anonymous says:

    I love when Brackers moan about job creation.  They keep thinking someone else is going to provide it for them on a plate. 

    • Anonymous says:

      How can you blame Brackers? It's the National Trust and DOE that are so vehemenently against it. Not a Bracker in sight there.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thats exactly what he meant. Where are the Brackers on CNS supporting Dilbert. Im sure there are lots of computers availible on the Brac.

        Oh i forgot, small island people like to shoo, shoo behind the bushes!

    • Anonymous says:


      I have to agree with you on that statement. I dont see many Brackers supporting Dilbert on this site.

      • Anonymous says:

        Good, you thumb down my statement on Brac support!

        That makes me happy, it proves you all are supporting him. Just don't back down.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Really, all this pond needs is seveal large air pumps (solar powered perhaps?),  6" perferated

    hard pipe, and a bit of time.  The pumps will pump air through the hose laid along the bottom of the pond, which will difuse the air through the perferations, airating the water and breaking the  THERMOCLINE that is trapping the methane and other gasses produced by the decomposition of organic matter accumilating via run off into the pond.  This will not 

    disturbe any of the terestial life and will enhance and increase oxygen in the water for marine life.

    This is much less expensive then the proposed reef cutting and dredging to allow in sea water and the excuse that a marina is needed to stimulate the Brac economy.  This project is really about selling the fill that will be dredged,  only profit in mind, with total disregard for the enviroment. The Brac will be sold, yard by yard, right from under the Bracers feet if these

    people have there way.


    • Anonymous says:

      While I agree that the marine proposal isn't a good way to alleviate smell and that there are other mechanical means better than pumping in seawater, such as aeration, I would question your assertion of a thermocline being part of the issue. The pond doesn't look deep enough to develop a thermocline.

      • Anonymous says:

        Don't get it twisted, noone said that this marina ws being built as a solution to the smell and condition of the Salt Pond. It's being built to help boost the Barc Tourism product and help boost the local economy. Helping with the smell is just an additional plus..  

  6. Turtle Stew says:

    17.00 you forgot one important comment in your remarks. What about the environment and the wild life? Destroying habits for hundred of species so you can drive around in your BMW is not only selfish but very disheartening and disgusting to put self before the environment.  Remember God put us here on earth as care keepers over this beautiful place we call home. He can also taketh away. Albeit you were not on grand cayman when Ivan made it to our shores and the devastation was unimaginable. We were very lucky to have a low tide when the hurricane hit and I hope we never forget how close we came to losing loved ones. So keep preaching for dredging and soon enough you will find your BMW and all earthly possessions floating.

    • NJ2Cay says:

      Is that the same attitude you have when you fill up your car with gas or cool your house using fosil fuels? Oh and I also assume your home is built on land that was never a natural habitant for another species, shoes or belt not made out of leather nor do you eat meat. People need to stop these holier that thou tree hugging attitudes, everything that man does to advance the species, make life more comfortable and provide for future generations. There is no way for us to survive without effecting other living things or the environment, so stop using this as and excuse to justify your green eyed envy of those trying to get ahead and have the means and motivation to do so. The Brac needs to do something to stimulate it's local economy and the private sector will be the one who are going to take things forward not the CIG. So be thankful there are people willing to invest into the future of Cayman becuase if we put our hopes in the care of Government we will all lose.

      • Anonymous says:

        Hypocrites, they have utilised all aspect of nature and invironment to get rich, from their country.

        Now they want the Brackers to preserve  their ecology and nature for their playground and retirement.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The day that pond is connected to the sea you can put swim vests and flippers on to visit Alexander Resort and Cayman Airways can buy two sea planes to replace the Twin Otters that fly there now.

    • Anonymous says:


      That is the dumbest remark I've ever heard from a grown person. When since you all have become experts on dredging? In my opinion, it's all personal with you objectors.

      Why didnt the cut on the North coast of the Brac,  by Mr. Bertie's hotel, flood his property? there is a large dredegd out area at sunset house, ( Grand Cayman)did this cause flooding to the neighbours…no! been there over 30 years now.

      Let me say this, you all objectors that are  talking BS. For the record,  In the  1932 storm, I  understand from the older people that witnessed that the storm.

      That the waves and flooding came all the way to the foot of the bluff.

      At that time,  there were no cuts or canals done on the Brac. but the ocean water still  flooded the low lands. Use your God's common sense…flooding is not caused by cuts or dredging the ocean beds. 

      Our tide flow  averages  2 feet. That is from low tide to high tide. Cutting a canal into the land will not make this tide level  differ. 

      The ocean water in our hemisphere stays at a level between  2 feet up and down….give and take a few inches.

       I would like for all you experts to explain to the people how the water in that particular canal and marina will flood the airport and neighbouring properties??  


      • Anonymous says:

        Let me tell you how it will flood the hotel and the airport since you don't seem to know.  That basin is lower than the sea and the land is approximately at the same level as the pond (a little scratch higher), so when you open it up and the sea water flows in, guess what it is going to do?  It is going to try to find equilibrium with the sea and that is where you will get the flooding.  But by chance you luck out there by building a wall around it, it only takes one good hurricane and South Side CYB will be like New Orleans in Katrina.  You can bury your head in the mud from the pond and say it won't happen, but I can guarantee you it will and it will be too late for everyone else around you.  I hope the development to the east of you also realize that they too will be affected.

        • Anonymous says:

          My friend, im going on past experiences.

          First let me deal with our ecology the Brac is made up of 99% lime stone, hard lime stone.

          Commonly called iron shore.

          We have tides and currants flowing mostly in an east to west direction, 95% of the time. this is to our advantage, due  to the island georgraphic location, also running east to west. Whatever impurities, silt  occure, the currant and tides take it away from the Island's shoreline.

          Fortunatley we do not have mud or clay which would create a silty settlement and kill the corals.

          This visual evidence im speaking of, can be found at two areas on  the north east coast of Cayman brac. They were cut into the iron shore back in the 80s and not only that the  water there is crystall clear, the corals and sealife are very much alive.

          Enough of that.

          Getting back to the storm surge and flooding.

          You are righ in saying that the sea water and the pond will find the equilibrium.  which in fact shows  that the ocean will not raise any higher than the existing pond water level.

          Mr. Dilbert has also proved this by pumping  sea water into the pond, which remains at the normal sea level and caused no flooding.

          I think what have the most of you all confused is  stories of past hurricanes causing the ocean to flood the land.

          Yes this is true…. but flooding  and storm surge will only happen whenever the hurricanes come.



  8. Anonymous says:

    Marinas have been built in salt ponds all over the Caribbean. They are not the same as before but they are not disasters either.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The DOE found every flaw in the book for Mr. Dilberts proposal, yet allowed 2 captive Dolphin parks to be established here on Grand Cayman. So much for the protection of fragile environmental species

    CNS: The DoE is not the deciding body for any development. They can only present their findings and hope that the deciding body listens.

    • Anonymous says:

      Correction: The People of Cayman allowed these disgusting dolphin "parks" and continue to do so.

      • Anonymous says:

        What really is disgusting about the dolphin "parks"? To be honest I work with one of them and the tourist love it. Sometimes there are over 800 tourist there in a day from cruise ships. Hotels don't do as well as cruise lines they believe everything is expensive. Stop believing environmentalists they don't know anything about cruise ships or tourists. 

        I live in GC and I hope you folks are able to build your marina good luck.

    • Anonymous says:

      And if the powers that be aprove this development anyway, in a couple of years someone wil post that DOE allowed it to be established. I never thought civics (government structure & process) needed to be taught in schools until I saw some of the posts (and thumbs) on CNS.

    • Anonymous says:

      And in this case I hope Cabinet do not listen to the BS from the National Trust or the Invironment department. The Brac needs this real badly.

  10. Turtle Stew says:

    Thank God for DOE and the National Trust! Someone got to save this country and the wild life from greedy politicians and developers! 

    Maybe the should  just place the two George Town piers on the brac and then ferry the cruise ship passenger over to Grand Cayman.

    never in my life  I see people that wish to destroy what's left of our  environment  for the almighty dollar under the pretense of employment. What then when it is all gone?

    • Anonymous says:

      Have there ever been a development that DOE have not found flaws with?

    • Grouper Man says:

      A lot of Brackers agree with you, Mr. Stew.  So do I!   I think it is criminal that our leaders turn a blind eye to projects detrimental to our environment.  Saltwater Pond is still a Crown-owned parcel but no longer a protected wildlife area.  Who removed that protection?  Why?  Too many of the afore-mentioned leaders think that wealth is more important than you and I and our children and most everything else.  I wonder if it's true that dollars are no good in hell…..

    • Anonymous says:

      so is the DOE going to provide us jobs and future economic viability???  Sounds good but please tell me how….!!!

  11. Anonymous says:

    And the ECO wackjobs strike again, insuring that commerce, economical benifits and human comfort takes a distant second place to 1/2 a dozen whelks and iguanas defecating on the iron shore…..


    • Anonymous says:

      What jobs? Get real, the Cayman Islands are not, will not ever be, on the cruising route for boats, if you build a marina it will not bring the boats so will not bring jobs.

      • Anonymous says:

        You are so wrong.

        • Anonymous says:

          So tell me then, how many boats travel past the Islands, ie, potential marina visitors?

          How many would come if there were facilities, think hard, where would they be travelling to or from to take their route this way? 

          No, its not going to happen, and having done a lot of sailing in these parts I do know the geography!

          • Anonymous says:

            If you want to go from the Gulf Coast to Jamaica or the southern Caribbean you go past Cayman.  Whether you stop depends on whether there is a comfortable place. Cayman is rolly to anchor at.

        • Otherview says:


    • Anonymous says:

      But there's no ironshore there?

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, there is an iron shore on the South Side where both of the marinas want to be built.  The one on the North will expose the West End to the seas, wind, and flooding.  This is a residential area next to the airport. It will also damage all of the good dive sites.    

        Cayman Brac doesn't need any marinas.  The company that wants to build the marinas will be dredging through a reef on the South Side and exposing homes and the airport to a hurricane on the north side.  Also, the company is not hiring Caymanians and brings in everything for themselvesso there is no economic benefit to having it at least not for Brackers.  If they are not employing Brackers, then there is no sense in having it.  Unless there is an alterior motive.

        I want to know why public consultation was not sought before approving projects that people didn't even know about.

        • Anonymous says:

          Read the article. Nothing has been approved. Coastal Works License applications have been submitted for consideration by Cabinet and DOE is strongly objecting to the marina by the Alexander Hotel.

          • Anonymous says:

            Planning approved all three pending Coastal Works approval by the Cabinet and everyone in Cayman Brac knows which one will be approved and why.

            • Anonymous says:

              You mean that the one where they had enough political clout to get an animal sanctuary designation removed from the Pond?

        • Anonymous says:

          Because the Planning laws are antiquated and the public notice provision was generally gutted several years ago to restrict the ability of the National Trust and others to obect to deforestation, etc., along West Bay Road. – And of course the Development Plan doesn't apply to the sister islands anyway. Because no one can tell them what they can't ddo with their land. Like build a marina on it.

          The only reason that any non-adjoining persons know about any of this is because the Coastal Works applications still require public notice, thankfully.

    • SSM345 says:

      ECO wackjobs? They are our Goverment entity in charge of our environment, you know the one you live in on the Brac.

      So, you would destroy your environment in the Brac to build a marina for boats to come and stay in, presumably to take in and see the environment?

      That must be that good ole Caymanian common sense from the sacred vessel there.

      What would those people who come to see your island do if the environment was destroyed because of the marina?

      And clearly the most obvious warning is the one about the hurricane damage. Did you not go though Paloma?

      If its built you might want to go and build some more caves on the bluff, stock up on solja's and can all that iguana meat.

      Or perhaps realize unless you own a business on the Brac, it might be time for you to move to the mainland, get a real job and stop looking for handouts, because you been looking for them long enough over there and they are not comig your way anytime soon Bobo.

      • Anonymous says:

        Destroy our environment? Really? This proposed project is so small in the grand scheme of Cayman Brac that by the time the water clears from the construction of the groyne there will be nothing to talk about. It's absolutely mind boggling to read commentsabout "destroying" the environment. Does anyone really think that construction of this marina is going to have any impact whatsoever on the rest of the island? Grand Cayman has a gazillion marinas and canals and the environment there certainly was not destroyed because of marinas.

        • Anonymous says:

          The "grand scheme" of Cayman Brac is that it is 1 mile wide and 12 miles long… the construction of this project will most certainly have a major environmental impact on the island.

          If you don't believe that this project will have a substantial environmental impact then I don't understand how you can simultaneously believe that it will have an economic impact sizeable enough to make a difference on an island where 80% of the workforce is employed by the government.

        • Anonymous says:

          Go take a swim in the back of the hyatt canal, then tell me again that canals don't have environmental impacts.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Is this really a saltwater pond or a brackish water pond?I ask this because I have seen pictures of freshwater birds apparently feeding there. Has it always been a saltwater pond or did someone connect it to the sea either by accident or on purpose?Curious.

    • Anonymous says:

      Brackish, probably.

      They ran a pipe under the road and hooked it to a pump so that they can pump seawater in to the pond in an attempt to aleviate the smell. Somehow. That didn't work so the solution is a bigger conduit to the sea. Because engineering allways trumps nature. (Well, it often does, but its expensive.)

    • Gut Check says:

      Now there's an intelligent question. 

      It is named Salt Water Pond, but due to it's close proximity to the ocean, it is brackish freshwater.    All three ponds support a myriad of important and unique life.