Road MOU released

| 19/03/2014

CNS): The government has now released the MOU it signed with the Ironwood Development Group Limited over plans to extend the east-west arterial road from Newlands to Frank Sound to support a proposed $360 million mixed-use community, resort and golf course in the heart of the eastern districts. At a press conference on Tuesday the premier and the planning minister said the MOU, which they insisted was not binding, proposes a public-private partnership agreement that would see the developer pay for the road and recoup the cost via concessions on the substantive development. The head of the National Roads Authority (NRA) said that they had met with the National Trust of the Cayman Islands, which has proposed alternative road alignments.

Government says that this potential deal cannot be binding as the entire project must follow the process set out in the Public Management and Finance Law and the associated Framework for Fiscal Responsibility (FFR), and it would also require approval from the UK. Premier Alden McLaughlin said at the televised press briefing that if people had concerns about government being responsible for the negotiations on this potential project, they couldtake comfort from the fact that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) would be overseeing things every step of the way.

During the briefing, NRA Acting Director Edward Howard set out the details of how the road extension, which has caused controversy for a number of reasons, was arrived at.
Both McLaughlin and Kurt Tibbetts, the planning minister, said they had decided to explain the chronology of events because both of them had family members with land impacted by the proposed road. However, they said they were not responsible for the route of the road and had not sought out the Ironwood project.

The premier emphasised the fact that the current gazetted route, which runs through the Mastic Reserve, the Salinas Reserve and the central wetlands, was set down during the 2001-2005 UDP administration. Tibbetts said that the current administration had not sought out the developers of this project, although government has given it its backing. The planning minister said the proposal had been discussed for more than four years and the previous UDP premier had given it his endorsement at a public meeting some time before.

Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush has reportedly made allegations that McLaughlin and Tibbetts are set to gain from the project because of their family land connections, which were not declared by either men when the project was first announced during a televised press briefing earlier this year.

The allegations that they would benefit were denied by both the premier and the planning minister and neither of them, they said, had anything to do with the proposed routes.  McLaughlin said that his father’s property already has over 1,100 feet on the North Side Road, so this project would not increase its value but he would lose some land. The allegations from the opposition leader were dismissed and the premier took the opportunity to note the irony.

“It is ironic for the leader of opposition to suggesta lack of transparency and foul play on our part when he is labouring under eleven charges of abuse of office,” McLaughlin said as he insisted that neither he nor Tibbetts nor their family members had anything to gain personally from the project.

However, both men emphasised their support, as they said it would benefit other Caymanians with land in the area. Despite the myriad environmental threats the road and this project pose, the premier said that it was unfair to Caymanian land owners in the eastern districts for the country to try and sterilise their opportunities for development because of environmental concerns.

During his presentation the NRA acting director said that the current gazetted route was devised as a result of efforts to find a hurricane proof route through the centre of the island in the wake of Hurricane Ivan and to help support the tourist development on the east side of the island around the Queens Highway.

However, he did not make it clear why, now that the Shetty hospital has been completed, government would, if it wanted to extend the east-west arterial, not choose to re-align the road to the original proposal of the 1990s in the Grand Master Transportation plan rather than to feed potential developments that do not yet exist.

The current proposed route will encroach on significant tracts of land owned by the National Trust, not only threatening the limited remaining pristine natural habitat supporting much of Cayman’s endangered endemic flora but also the historically and culturally significant Mastic Trail.

Howard said, however, that during a recent meeting with the National Trust alternative routes had been proposed, which government officials were now examining. Although there may be room for some compromise, he said, it appeared it would not be enough to save the trail, which may, if the project goes ahead, find itself under a concrete by-pass.

The Trust has already stated that it is not willing to give up its land and while government has the power to compulsorily purchase private land, the Trust has extra protections over land vested under its ownership. As a result, government may find itself in a significant legal battle with the NGO, which is the only non-government body in Cayman that has the will and some funding to preserve the country’s dwindling natural resources.

While government passed the National Conservation Law in an historic victory at the end of last year, which will force its own hand into placing conservation on an equal footing with economic gain, the failure of Cabinet to complete the other necessary legislative changes to support it and finish the regulations has left the critically needed law in limbo.

Nevertheless, at Tuesday’s briefing the premier committed to ensuring that an environmental impact assessment would be carried out in relation to the road and it would also be required of the developer before the project got the go-ahead from planning.

See the MOU and proposed road extension below, as well as a map showing possible alternative alignments of the east-west arterial proposed by the Trust.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Local News

About the Author ()

Comments (55)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    Start shredding those tires for the new road base

  2. Anonymous says:

    I watched that video of the press conference and I'm really concerned about Wendy thinking that it's "too hot" for a golf course up there. Really?

  3. Anonymous says:

    The Premier nor Minister Tibbetts is responsible for the current route of the road. That responsibility lies with Gilbert McLean and McKeeva Bush and the UDP cabinet which gazzeted it in 2005.

  4. Anonymous says:

    There is so much blinding ego with each party that they feel compelled to build a monument to their stupidity every time they get into power.  The ink isn't even dry on the NCL, and the ole double dip is already talking about using $25mln of public funds to pave through the protected Wetland and Black Mangrove Forest and Historic Ironwood Trail logs; which according to the trail guides, are supposed to be "protected in perpetuity" under the National Trust umbrella!  If the road must proceed, please Mr. Transparent kindly consider the logic of sparing us millions in avoidable aggregate expenditure by diverting it over solid ground to the south, rather than filling in miles of swamp for the sake of ego and quarry-owner patronage.  We would be grateful for that courtesy at least.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Did anyone watch the press briefing on Monday?  Alden didn't even know the name, title or statutory authority relating to Ed Howard, Acting MD of the NRA!  Ed has worked there in a managerial capacity for yeas with Master's, Bachelor and several engineering designations.  Being arguably one of the most intelligent and educated Caymaniansemployed in the civil service, I commend him for carrying out the rest of the presentation with tact after the Premier asked him who he was & what organization he worked for while introducing him on camera! 

    Talk about politicians being out of touch with their constituency…

    -Miguel Barcelo

  6. Anonymous says:

    It does however seem that the current route may be the best route to accommodate future road development and with all the undeveloped land in that area they should be able to come to some compromise with the national trust for a land swap in their favor. It will also give them an opportunity to create a really nice clearly visible entrance with parking for cars and tour busses off the new highway and a nice kiosk where to can get cold beverages and a snack similar to what the Botanical Gardens has. This may actually attract more tourists to visit and walk the Mastic Trail. Has anyone considered this?

  7. Anonymous says:

    none of this will happen any time soon…….

    the ppm are masters of procrastination

  8. Anonymous says:

    This stinks. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Why does this stink?  Did you read the MOU?  It is a perfectly reasonable agreement  that enables both parties to move forward with negotiations.  it seems that some people think that the developer should pay for the road and just give it to government as a gesture of good will.  Let's be realistic and figure out how to get needed infrastructure at good rates and with a good plan.

    • Anonymous says:

      Before we go further East  can Y'all finish Newlands bypass ?  Street lightning and level ground in case we need to pull over to change a flat tyre.




  9. Anonymous says:

    concessions… possible conflict / family interest / tearing thru protected property what is the difference between UDP / PPM

  10. Anonymous says:

    Everyone should watch this video of their press conference yesterday.

  11. Anonymous says:

    How is this supposed to be in the best interest of the Premier and his family? Mr. McNee's land already has 1,100 feet of access to Frank Sound Road and the proposed road would take about 3 acres of his 11 acre lot.

    • Anonymous says:

      Becuase he would not have 8 Acres of prime commercial property right smack on the corner of the new Highways. It will be worth Millions..

    • Anonymous says:

      It will make the land more valuable, even if it is 3 acres less.   Because developments such as those planned add value to that area and encourage even further development on that side of the island. That in turn, makes that side of the island become more in demand.   Higher demand means higher land prices.

  12. Anonymous says:

    The shortsightedness of many of you, and sadly the premier of this country, all in the name of development is sickening.  I hope that the National Trust continues to stand firm on this.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I hope that they have read all of the previous posts connected to this project and understand that Caymanians are ready to take a stand on this! The National Trust can rest assured that there is a whole army of us out here ready to give them every support in this battle.

    • Anonymous says:

      To:Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 19/03/2014 – 16:44.                                   …and where was this army when we needed them to fight to save  West Bay Road? I bet if Dart was doing this project you would be out there with your army to support it.Fraud.

  14. Anonymous says:

    So…wait….the UDP supported the project and the road extention while they were the government and now that their not they don't support it? I was in the gallery of the LA that day the project was announced and I didn't hear Ezzard protesting it then.

  15. Anonymous says:

    "…the current gazetted route, which runs through the Mastic Reserve, the Salinas Reserve and the central wetlands, was set down during the 2001-2005 UDP administration."

    And yet McKeeva and Foolio is on the radio every day saying that Alden and Kurt routed the road to benefit their families. Who's playing politics here? Gilbert should be ashamed of himself letting them say all the rubbish they say without correcting them…then again, he was a UDP minister.

  16. Anonymous says:

    The pot calling the kettle, i'd say…

    The Opposition leader should hold his tongue lest he has constructive criticism to offer. Apprently we pay these politicians to fumble around for solutions, somtimes behind our backs without benefit only to themselves. Partizan, 6th form bickering has put this island back 2 decades. Instead of demonstrating your ingnorance, demonstrate your commitment to finding a solution beneficial to all stakeholders, including the people. Time is of the essence!

  17. Anonymous says:

    So what if Alden's father owns land there? His father either purchased or inherited the land many decades ago. It's never been owned by Alden. For those questioning motives, you should know that property already has 1,100 feet of access to the main road. This new road will take a significant chunk of land from that property, therefore devaluing it. 

    Kurt's wife and sister-in-laws inherited land from their father. That has nothing to do with Kurt.

    The road was gazetted by Gilbert McLean (UDP minister) in a rush before the 2005 elections. Alden's father and Kurt's wife and sister-in-laws owned their property long before that. So tell me, how is it that Alden and Kurt are supposed to be at fault?

    • Anonymous says:

      Ever heard of the word "inheritance"?

      • Anonymous says:

        And how is Alden at fault? You still didn't answer that question – it's because he isn't at fault.

    • Anonymous says:

      Will let you in on a little secret.  In Jamaica, 2 parties pretty much dominate the political scene and have done so for decades.  Even when a 3rd party tried to break in and break the stranglehold these 2 have, it didn't work, these 2 parties made sure to let off enough "incentives" to their voter base right before elections which ensured that only 1 of the 2 would win.  It is said that these 2 parties publicly bicker and fight each other to give the appearance that they are provding effective opposition, but it is said that they meet behind closed doors to discuss what they each want to achieve during their respective terms, and how the other will help them achieve what they want and how they can each wash each other's back.  So if Party A wants a certain project that will benefit them, they say to Party B, allow me to do this particular project during my term, and in return I will make sure to do XYZ for you, so that when you get into office next time, you will be able to do that other project that will benefit you.  To all outward appearance, they seem to provide opposition and bicker with each other, but in reality, they provide no real opposition that prevents the other party from doing what it really wants.  Not saying that this is what happens in Cayman.  But one thing people must realize is that politicians will work together behind closed doors when it suits them.  Cayman made the mistake of moving away from independent seats, to a 2 party system. 

  18. Anonymous says:

    Can't stant the heat Alden, now you know how it feel to be a constant target..

    • And Another Ting says:

      Wait a minute wait a minute yah . The NRA now featuring prominently in these discussions, w a happen, aren't they the ones who are empowered by law to deal with the roads and now being brought is it under duress,? Why we're not these people involved from the beginning. Yeah I kin hear it now go ahead thumbs down all ya want its my opinion and my questionsthat I have a right to ask. And Another Ting.

  19. Anonymous says:

    A simple pedestrian bridge is better than a road overpass if the southern end of the trail is that important. A road exit and carpark would vastly improve the southern approach to the trail. Its nasty back there right now.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Lets get it done!

  21. Anonymous says:

    The PPM government is historically not given to promoting private projects and has, in the past, taken the UDP to task for getting too close to developers and giving out concessions etc.

    So why this development? What is it about this one that has the Premier and his government so excited?

    • Anonymous says:

      It's precisly the idea that PPM are anti-development which is why the are backing it. Besides…it's Arnold Palmer backing it.

  22. Anonymous says:

    No real reason to post this here, but… It's what our visitors are saying NOW.


  23. Foreign Devil says:

    Wait wait I have a solution for the three people that use the mastic trail every month, look right then left then right again then cross the new road.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks to comments like this I have decided that the world (for humans) is coming to an end. And I feel fine …. cuz I'm 60. 

  24. Foreign Devil says:

    Perfect, this road will give us easy access to the centrally located Waste Management Facility that We need to open in Bodden Town. Right Ozzie?

  25. Just Askin' says:

    How much money will the families of PPM MLA's make off this deal?  Is that not set out in the MOU?  Same crap different color.

  26. Turtle Stew says:
    " Despite the myriad environmental threats the road and this project pose, the premier said that it was unfair to Caymanian land owners in the eastern districts for the country to try and sterilise their opportunities for development because of environmental concerns"
    So my question is what's the point of passing a National Conservation Law when every developer wants to destroy the environment?  Seems like a double edge sword with future generations to lose and the environment to be destroyed forever?
    I hope our monarchy steps in and save this country from the path of destruction. One more thing, the government to pay an annual road tax back to the developers? Who's going to pay for this, Shetty's potential patients?
    • Anonymous says:

      What annual road tax is being paid back to the developers ? You've been eating too much of that tainted Turtle meat from the Turtle farm. This is just how rumors start.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Anyone other than me thinking that Moffitt is already trying to sell this to Dart?

    • Anonymous says:

      Not so many it turns out, the "speculative rumour sh!t stirring based on zero fact brigade" is getting very very tedious. Have you got nothing better to do? Like a job?

  28. BORN FREE says:

    Isn't it very ironic that the now opposition (& their two pals from EE & NS, Harden & Hazzard) are now looking for every excuse possible to complain about, or oppose the proposed Ironwood development, but were just a few shorts months ago in total support of it while telling the Cayman people that we need as many good projects as possible so as to help the struggling economy. Are they not ashamed of themselves & their blatant hypocrisy? They are using family land as an exuse to try put a stop to it, SAD!

    • Anonymous says:

      Born Free i agree with yu. But you are missing a very salient point.  The Opposition should really  shut up.  They were the ones who was talking with the developers about 4 years ago about this development, they were all gungho about it then and it was not the PPM who gazetted the road to go through the Mastic Trail.  We all have to try to coexist on this little 2 X 4 island, locals/ foreigners/ lizards/crabs/ orchids/ native flora and fauna/  road users/non road users etc.etc.  There must be compromise- please let us try to see eye to eye!!

  29. Anonymous says:

    Really CNS, "the myriad environmental threats"?  Such as?  Shortening by a hundred feet an arbitrary man made path through ubiquitous mangrove forest?  Oh yikes, how will our children ever forgive us?!

    By your cynical logic building a house would constitute "myriad environmental threats". Should we never build anything ever again? 

  30. Anonymous says:

    I love it, go there Big Mac glad you are Back. I have to lagh a little guy from old bush still showing up these educated politicians.  LOL

  31. Anonymous says:

    Public pressure is why the regressives have finally released the MOU. Don't ease them up Cayman demand they keep all the campaign promises.