Environmental concerns surface after Dart Realty reveals its plan to rid a stretch of Seven Mile Beach of beach rock to facilitate a new, 175-room, five-star hotel development.
The Department of Environment told Cayman 27, if approved, the coastal works application would set a precedent on Seven Mile Beach.
Others, citing the precedent-setting nature of the project urge the utmost caution.
“It is not a single application issue, it’s a precedent issue that we are dealing with,” said former director of tourism Angela Martins. She told Cayman 27 Dart Realty’s plan to remove beach rocks to facilitate a five-star development on a stretch Seven Mile Beach near the Kimpton hotel could open a Pandora’s box of sorts.
“The precedent setting nature of this says we must be careful and thoughtful and very methodical in considering the entire impact, not on this particular stretch of beach, but for the entire Seven Mile Beach as we move forward,” said Ms. Martins.
“Of course we have concerns, beach rock is still part of the natural environment,” said DOE Deputy Director Tim Austin.
He told Cayman 27 the department hasn’t received the application yet, but said once it’s in-hand it will get a thorough review. He said it’s too early to say if the DOE will endorse or reject the plan, but agrees that it could open the door to more such applications.
“The thing that were faced with a lot of times, is people choose a site and then they try to turn it into something that they want it to be rather than looking for the appropriate site in the first place,” explained Mr. Austin. “We do expect to see, if this application is approved or has some measure of success, that there will be other applications.”
“I’m not trying to be negative about this, we do need the hotel and this that and the other, but it is a concern and I think if we continue to do this, it could be something detrimental over the years coming up,” said diver and conservationist Peter Milburn,
He agrees the precedent-setting nature of the plan calls for proceeding with caution, and ultimately, compromise.
“I would rather see some kind of a compromise possibly, an area maybe cut through so people can exit into the deeper water,” said Mr. Milburn.
Ms. Martins urged the decision makers to avoid becoming blinded to the potential long-term effects by the promise of economic gains.
“I care deeply about Cayman but all facets of it,” she said. “So the economic development of Cayman is important, but it is not the end all and the be all, and not to be considered at any cost.”
Dart Realty told Cayman 27 the deal with the five-star hotel brand, widely believed to be the Four Seasons, is off unless the beach rock is removed. saying any resort development on the site is likely precluded by removal of the beach rock.
Dart Realty is making its case for its coastal works application with an informational video on the project.
Wednesday night, Cayman 27 aired a portion of a three-and-a-half minute video produced by Dart.
It details the objectives of its coastal works application, describes what beach rock is and how it’s formed, and introduces the geologists and other scientists who performed what the developers called its ‘extensive studies’ into the project.
Dart Realty Chief Operating Officer Jackie Doak told Cayman 27 these reports conclude the beach rock removal can be done without harming the environment.
“Our outlook is that we’re going to be providing the necessary reports and scientific information and credible information for both the Department of Environment and cabinet to make a good decision on the removal of beach rock,” said Ms. Doak. “The reports to date indicate that the beach rock can be safely remove without any impact on the environment.”
You can see Dart’s video in its entirety by clicking on this link: