A small, picturesque, dead-end road in West Bay has been at the heart of several high-profile beach access issues over the last few years. While it’s barely a third of a mile long, the Lands and Survey Department’s 2017 beach access report devoted an entire chapter to Boggy Sands Road.
The Boggy Sands corridor’s idyllic island charm was shattered last December, when a dispute erupted between two neighbors over a private beach access path, and a lock and key. It’s just one example of how easily the hot-button issue of beach access can boil over.
Tuesday (27 February) morning, Cayman 27’s cameras were back on Boggy Sands road with activist and developer Morne Botes, taking a tour of the access points listed in the report.
He said the 1,174 page beach access report netted some surprises.
First, that the report devoted an entire section to the Boggy Sands corridor and its five listed beach access paths. Even more curious, he said, is the one access point that won’t be found in the report.
“I was a bit confused, why didn’t it show this one,” said Mr. Botes.
He told Cayman 27 he was surprised to find the only marked and relatively well-manicured beach access path in the Boggy Sands corridor omitted from the report, so he went looking for answers.
“I went and met yesterday with the chief surveyor, he explained to me that this is one of the older accesses that was actually put under the road authority, so this is under the National Roads Authority and showed as a roadway,” said Mr. Botes.
Mr. Botes said since it’s under the NRA as a roadway, the path can never be moved. He said other access paths in the report have completely disappeared over time, like the old ‘Brooklyn Bridge’ beach access many old-timers may remember.
“This is where all the old folks used to access the beach here, obviously it’s been closed off now with a rocky wall and gates on this side,” said Mr. Botes.
On one side, a wall of rocks and a gate, on the other side of the path is the DEH recycling facility at the back of Foster’s Food Fair.
“This is all obviously bush and overgrown, it hasn’t been opened up for years,” said Mr. Botes.
In between, the path is completely overgrown by a thicket of vegetation.
Another Boggy Sands friction point: the so-called access path to nowhere, where users walk close to a quarter mile to a locked gate. The report lists it as a private access.
“It’s marked now as a private access, but this was obviously always public access, since the 70’s, and it’s always now locked, it’s just a shame,” said Mr. Botes.
Mr. Botes said as the only unobscured beach access is actually a public roadway, and therefore cannot be moved, he would support registering all public beach accesses as roadways.
“This is what I would like to see,” he said. “I would like to see it under the National Roads Authority, it is clear then who owns it. It’s the government who owns it, it’s the government’s walkway, the government takes the liability for it, they clean it, they take care of it,” said Mr. Botes.
There are a total of five beach accesses listed in the Boggy Sands section of the report. Four of these are registered private, and the aforementioned historic Brooklyn Bridge access is completely overgrown and blocked.
Mr. Botes said he encourages everyone to look at the report, and to focus on their area. He said if anything appears amiss, or missing, you should report it to Lands and Survey.
Cayman 27 reached out to the chief surveyor to find out how many beach accesses may be registered as roadways under the NRA.
He said the exact number is unavailable today, but said it is quite a few.