Emotions run high as government unveils its concept for a redeveloped Smith Barcadere to the public.
George Town South MLA Barbara Connolly and other officials introduced the nuts and bolts of the plan Tuesday night at a well attended public meeting.
Those in attendance provided no shortage of feedback for their consideration once the floor was turned over to public comment.
“There’s nothing here carved in stone, this is just a concept,” said A.L. Thompson, who chaired the two and a half hour meeting.
The public got its first look at government’s planned redevelopment of Smith Barcadere.
“I think there’s a little something there for everybody and I kind of like it a lot,” said attendee Cathy Church.
Artists renderings detailed additional lighting, a new carpark, new restrooms, a pedestrian crosswalk, clearing of underbrush, and multiple ironshore cabanas.
“We don’t cabanas, there’s no need for them,” said one woman in the audience from the back of the room.
“It is quite clear in this focus group that nobody likes the cabanas,” said beach access activist and developer Morne Botes, after a quick show-of-hands.
The unscientific straw poll established clearly that a majority of those in attendance were not in favor of cabanas.
“Just two, one cabana, we need the shade,” said Steff McDermot, who spoke in favor of cabana structures, especially if they employed traditional Caymanian design.
George Town South MLA Barbara Connolly embraced the minority opinion on the polarising issue of cabanas.
“I think we all, we need to sort of, to make some compromises, but certainly I am not in favor of no cabanas,” said Ms. Connolly.
Ms. Connolly also expressed her desire to make Smith Barcadere a park for the people.
“It is for all of us, it is for our George Town residents and it is for our South Sound [residents], but it is also for the whole Cayman Islands, and the fact of the matter is, we want to own this, we don’t want this to be a Dart park. We want this to be a South Church Street, we want this to be a South Sound park, I think we all just have to take ownership of this and be a part of this development,” said Ms. Connolly.
The plan includes extending the conditions imposed upon the Webster family’s donation of the original parcel of land to government, no commercial activities and no loud music, to the whole of Smith Barcadere.
A lengthy list of new restrictions were also proposed.
“No boating, no jet skis and waverunners, no windsurfing, no dogs unleashed, no scuba diving, no fishing of any kind, no large events over 100 people without permission, and no bus tours from the cruise ships,” said Mr. Thompson.
“If we want to have diving, if we want to have sailing, if you want to fishing, there are places all over the island where that can be done. But there’s only one Smith’s Cove, it’s the only one we’ve got,” said one man in defense of the restrictions.
“Leaving it as it is sometimes the best thing, ” said another woman.
Even as plans call for a space for a park attendant, some in the audience questioned how any of these new restrictions, if implemented, would be enforced.
“What we have found at public beach is obviously, no one followed the rules, no one is enforcing the rules, and that is my main worry,” said Mr. Botes.
Lucille Seymour cited Governor’s Beach as another example.
“There’s a lot of yoga, there’s a lot of boats, swimming, a lot of activity. Now I don’t know whether that is commercial, but people seem to be enjoying themselves, nobody says anything to them, so that is going to be a very difficult task for the person who is looking after this property,” said Ms. Seymour.
Mr. Thompson said to execute the plan presented at last night’s meeting would cost around $500,000.
The big question, is how will the feedback from last night’s be meeting be incorporated into planning process?
Even with amendments to the initial plan, it appears highly unlikely any plan could be drawn up to pleases everyone.