The long-awaited South Sound boardwalk was still eight weeks away from its official opening on Friday (4 January).
The finishing touches were being put to the $1.3 million project when Cayman 27 caught up with Senior Policy Officer at the Department of Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure, Charles Brown.
The construction has not been without its fair share of criticism: plagued by delays and concerns from locals over safety and value-for-money.
The boardwalk project was expected to be finished last summer after ground was broken in March 2018, but Mr. Brown said it would take another seven to eight weeks for the benches to be installed and the opening ceremony to take place.
Mr. Brown admitted the project has taken longer than anticipated.
“The project was scoped for a shorter time period but as Cayman is in a construction boom, everybody can understand that negotiating all of the sub-trades and all of the parties that are involved in a project like this took some time,” he explained, adding: “there were some other setbacks but we’re making really good progress now.”
As for the cost, the Senior Policy Officer said any seaside construction was pricey.
“I think there’s a lot of value for money. If you think of the price of this view…. people pay millions of dollars just to have this view and this view is being given to the public.”
There has been safety criticism, too, like claims the boardwalk is insufficiently sturdy, especially after a truck was able to destroy a section of it last October.
“It’s made for pedestrian use,” Mr. Brown reiterated.
He insisted: “it is a robust structure. It is as robust as we think it needs to be in terms of its proximity to the sea.”
And what about those who say no-one is using the boardwalk because it starts and stops in the middle of nowhere?
“I was actually talking to a lady the other day just yesterday who said this is the only place she feels safe to walk and she knows people who travel from all over the island who come here to walk, it’s now become a destination, a sign of the success of the project,” Mr. Brown pointed out.
At just 1,500 ft (under 500 metres), Mr. Brown said the scope of the project had to be tied to that amount of space at the present time.
“That’s what we’ve done and the government feels it’s done that successfully,” he clarified, adding: “it’s a beautiful spot, it’s one of the vistas Cayman has cherished for many, many years.”
New road markings have been added this week, to allow for a bike lane.
But even with the boardwalk structure itself complete, some pedestrians were spotted walking along the road, preferring to chart their own path.
Mr. Brown said the Ministry would aim to host an official opening ceremony for the boardwalk in the first quarter of this year, once the benches are in.