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Concerns Citizens Group continues fight for beach access rights

The Concerned Citizens group told Cayman 27 it welcomes this week’s release of the Lands and Survey Department’s 2017 beach access report, but its members said the fight goes on to preserve prescriptive rights of access to the beach.

The Concerned Citizens Group has been on the front lines of the beach access issue in Cayman for decades. Back in the 1990’s CCG members walked many of these pathways themselves, collecting some 500 affidavits that, when submitted in 2001, identified more than 200 prescriptive beach access paths.

From left: Concerned Citizens Group Chair Alice Mae Coe, CCG pro-bono legal counsel Bilika Simamba, CCG and Publiclands Commission member Ezmae Smith, and activist Billy Adam led Cayman 27 on a walking tour of beach accesses they say are in jeopardy.

Fast forward to 2018 and the Concerned Citizens Group is still at it. Friday morning (23 February) Cayman 27 met up with a few of its members near Tiki Beach, where they showed some of the prescriptive beach accesses they say are in jeopardy of being stripped away from the public.

In the tall shadows of the Kimpton hotel, along a stretch of old West Bay road destined for closure.

“When you look at this 2017 beach access report, you’ll see that it is not shown on that map anymore. It was totally disappeared, and it has disappeared,” said Alice mae Coe, Chair of the Concerned Citizens Group.

She told Cayman 27 the NRA Agreement, in which government traded part of West Bay road to developers in exchange for other land and road works, made no provision to ensure continued vehicular access to several prescriptive rights of way. These accesses are documented in the recently released beach access report, shown in green lines on the map.

“It is grossly unfair to the people of the Cayman Islands for our government to even consider to entertain anybody’s suggestion, give me that road, your people don’t need it, they don’t need to have access to the accesses,” said Ms. Coe.

On a walking tour Friday morning, Ms. Coe and others connected to the group showed our cameras just a few of the 23 prescriptive access paths listed between Calico Jack’s and where West Bay road resumes to the north.

“500 affidavits have been filed to prove approximately 200 beach accesses,” said the CCG’s pro-bono attorney Bilika Simamba.

He told Cayman 27 the registrar of lands refused to register these accesses, and after an appeal, the registrar also refused to forward the matter to grand court.

“The CCG has applied for legal aid, to get government legal assistance in order to peruse this matter, the legal aid was refused late last year in about July,” said Mr. Simamba.

“It says, circumstances do not justify the expenditure of public funds, applicants should fund their own action,” said Ms. Coe, reading from the

Public Lands Commission member Ezmae Smith, also a CCG member, finds the decision perplexing.

“I can’t see that it is not a public interest because section 4 of the prescriptive law makes it very clear, any person that has used a beach or an access or a path or recreation fishing, has an indefeasible right to the beach, so I am at a loss as to why yes they can not understand why it’s not a public interest,” said Ms. Smith.

The beach access report is a massive document, encompassing all three islands, and certainly too big to break down for you in just one news report. The Cayman 27 news team looks forward to digging into this issue a little deeper.

A Dart Real Estate spokesperson said the company is reviewing the beach access report.

About the author

Joe Avary

Joe Avary

Joe Avary has been with Cayman 27 since 2014. He brings 20 years in television experience to the job, working hard every day to bring the people of Cayman stories that inform the public and make a difference in the community. Joe hopes his love for the Cayman Islands shines through in his informative and entertaining weather reports. If you have a story idea for Joe or just want to say hello, call him at 324-2141 or send an email to josephavary@hurleysmedia.ky

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