The issue of beach access elicits a strong emotional response, as evidenced by the variety of reactions we see from you our viewers every time we file a new report on the subject. Many of our beach access stories involve public access rights of way, but our reporting also shows how tensions can boil over – even between those who share a private access path.
While reporting on a separate beach access issue involving a public path on Boggy Sands Road Monday (18 Dec), Cayman 27 cameras captured the very moment a private beach access feud ignited.
Tempers flared as a dispute over a private beach access right of way boils over on boggy sands road Monday. While investigating a separate beach access issue at a public beach access path just a few houses away, our cameras captured developer Morne Botes carrying a metal gate away from the private access path his development shares. What happened next was an ugly confrontation between neighbors.
Mr. Botes said the dispute centered around a gate on that private access path and the keys to get through it.
“The gentleman that owns the beach house decided to put up three different gates with three different keys, he gave us three different sets of keys just to make our lives a little bit difficult,” said Mr. Botes, explaining the situation in the minutes after the brief confrontation.
He said he received just one set of keys, but can’t get copies made on island because it is a special security key. He said the gate, which he claims to have paid half for, had to go.
“I decided today that I had to take down the gate, especially after emergency that we had here this weekend, because we can’t risk another tourist losing their life just because of a silly gate,” said Mr. Botes.
A lawyer representing the beach house owner, whose land the private access traverses, disagreed.
“For most of Cayman’s society, it is simply unacceptable to enter someone else’s property and and remove items belonging to them (the gates). It’s even worse when the grounds offered are totally false (you have the keys and have not paid anything towards the gates)” said the lawyer in an email to Mr. Botes Monday.
The man in the video seemed to admit otherwise in the heated exchange with Mr. Botes.
“I paid for it so I’ll keep it in storage,” said Mr. Botes.
“No you paid for half of it, you paid for half of it, and it’s actually on our property,” responded the man in the video, later identified as Jonathan Ebanks.
Minutes after the confrontation Cayman 27approached him for his side of the story, and he declined.
“I just want to get your side of the story,” said Cayman 27 reporter Joe Avary.
“I gave you my side of the story last year but you obviously didn’t listen,” responded Mr. Ebanks.
By Tuesday morning, the appearance of calm had been restored along the picturesque Boggy Sands Road.
Cayman 27 again reached out again to Mr. Ebanks, and while he politely declined an interview, he said in a phone call that he harbours some frustrations from years of seeing foreigners do what he described as ‘whatever they like’ in his country. He insists he is not a xenophobe.
Just minutes before Tuesday’s newscast we received word from Mr. Botes that he is planning to re-install the gate on that private access path. Both parties have indicated a desire to solve this dispute amicably in coming weeks.