The fight is on to Save Barker’s Beach after a coastal works application ignites concern that one of Grand Cayman’s last great unspoiled coastlines will become development’s new frontier.
The 21-acre site tabbed to become the future home of Calico Jack’s lies well outside the boundaries of the proposed Barker’s National Park. The proposed 300 foot T-shaped dock bisects a roughly quarter-mile stretch of shoreline. The plans call for 180,000 square feet of seagrass to be removed to a depth of roughly five feet, by hand, using perforated buckets and screens.
According to the 2017 Lands and Survey Beach Access Report, the site is home to four public rights of way earned according to the Perscription law.
After years of standing up for beach access rights, the Concerned Citizens group has thrown its support behind the Save Barker’s Beach movement.
“It’s not just getting to the beach, it is enjoying what is here,” said Alice Mae Coe of the Concerned Citizens Group. “This is a replenishment zone, a marine park, and no one should be thinking about touching it.”
Ms. Coe likened the proposal to remove a seagrass bed three times the size of a football pitch from in front of the site to a disgrace.
She told Cayman 27 Calico Jack’s, a popular mainstay on Seven Mile Beach, is not in keeping with the Barker’s area’s natural charms.
“Completely out of place,” she said. “It should remain where it is, if the business wants to continue to operate, they should stay where they are.”
But with Calico Jack’s current lease set to expire at the end of 2020, that’s not possible.
In application documents, Calico Jack’s owner Hendell Whittaker cited a lack of facilities catering to cruise ship passengers in the Seven Mile Beach area. He said Barker’s offers a prime location for tourism expansion.
For years, Papagallo’s has been akin to the end of the line for development, but times are changing.
Whether Mr. Whittaker’s application is approved or not, it appears development is already encroaching into the Barker’s corridor. Just a few parcels to the West of the proposed future home of Calico Jack’s, where construction is underway on the what could become the first ripple in a wave of new projects.
“Development is one thing, but why should we destroy everything that means something to Caymanians,” said Ms. Coe.
The Concerned Citizens Group are no strangers to fighting for what they believe, and losing, as was the case in 2014 when West Bay Road was closed. But undeterred, Ms. Coe vowed to keep fighting.
“We have to keep speaking out and standing up, will it fall on deaf ears as it so often does?” she said.
The Ministry of Environment said the applicant’s notice will need to be re-advertised due to a slight error that misidentified the name of the ministry. Once the revised notification is published, the public will have 21 days to weigh in on the plans.