Economy versus environment.
Dart Realty’s plan to make part of Seven Mile Beach more attractive for wealthy guests of a future five-star hotel is splitting opinions in Cayman. At the heart of the issue, a precedent setting application to rid the beach of naturally occurring beach rocks.
With an estimated economic impact of $600 million, Dart Realty COO Jackie Doak told Cayman 27 a new five-star hotel and pedestrianised resort district will be a difference maker for the country.
“Our reports from Oxford economics shoe that the total economic impact of the construction is $600 million, and during that three year construction period, we will have 1200 jobs, and we all know that unemployment is top of mind and very important for the health of out islands,” she said.
But if cabinet doesn’t approve a plan to allow for the removal of beach rocks from the site, Dart said the hotel and its plethora of spin-off amenities will never materialise, and that’s $600 million Cayman can kiss goodbye.
“We must not get excited about purely the economic impact of this development, or any such development on seven mile beach. Without recognizing if we are going to change the natural inclination of the coastline, what the longer term environmental impacts could be,” said former tourism director Angela Martins.
Longtime diver and conservationist Peter Milburn told Cayman 27 past attempts to alter Cayman’s coastline had disastrous results.
“We had the same problem up in south sound many years ago when somebody decided to take out some turtle grass so they could swim out and have their little white hole, and low and behold they dug out the whole thing about 20 feet deep. It had such a great effect on either side, sand disappearing, people’s trees falling into the water,” remembered Mr. Milburn.
The ultimate decision on the approval of this precedent-setting coastal works application rests in the hands of cabinet. Dart’s coastal works application and accompanying feedback from the DOE and the public will be sent to cabinet for approval. Cayman 27 sat down with finance minister Marco Archer last week. He said cabinet members are well aware of the gravity of issues before them. He said no decision is taken lightly.
“We need every project that we can get to keep the economy going, to create employment, to create the room stock for visitors, but at the same time we also recognize the responsibility that we have to this generation and future generations with respect to making sure that we do not make rash and reckless decisions,” said Mr. Archer.