Premier Alden McLaughlin announced government is in talks to buy the land next to Smith’s Barcadere from developers.
Thursday morning (6 October) he addressed the Smith’s Cove situation in the Legislative Assembly. He said government is in talks with Bronte representatives to strike a deal that would stop a proposed condo project, and preserve the much-loved landmark as we know it.
Additionally, Mr. McLaughlin shined some light on how the NRA deal went down.
“This government intends to continue to make every effort to acquire this property in an effort to keep Smith’s Barcadere, all of what we know as Smith’s Barcadere, available to Caymanians, residents, visitors, and future generations in perpetuity,” said the Premier.
After caucus discussions last week, government’s persuader-in-chief, planning minister Kurt Tibbetts, was tabbed to explore the possibility of buying the parcel from developers.
“I have to say the minister is known to be very persuasive, and I am pleased to advise this house and the public that so far his conversations appear to be bearing fruit,” said Mr. McLaughlin. “It is hoped over the next few days we will be able to provide some good news regarding government acquiring the property.”
The premier bit back at suggestions that his government ‘walked away’ from an opportunity to acquire the land as part of the NRA agreement.
He explained his version of events, from when the property first was mentioned in a Dart proposal during NRA amendment talks under the previous UDP administration.
“What was proposed was a linked arrangement where the public would lose future access rights to the Seven Mile Beach through land owned by Dart along the West Bay Road,” explained Mr. McLaughlin. “In exchange the future public access rights would be replaced by other property owned by Dart, including the land adjoining Smith’s Barcadere.”
He said it was a trade his government simply wasn’t willing to make.
“With that decision, the swap for land, such as that adjoining Smith Barcadere, was automatically taken off the table,” said Mr. McLaughlin.
Opposition Leader McKeeva bush defended his administration’s dealmaking record in the NRA agreeement, saying he walked away with something tangible for the people of Cayman.
“You want something from me? Let you give some things to this country,” he said in rebuttal to the Premier.
Dart Realty confirmed the land, acquired in 2011 from Stan Thomas, was sold last September after receiving an unsolicited offer to buy the property.