Disability council calls for access at Smith Cove

| 16/07/2018 | 65 Comments
Cayman News Service

The Mobi-mat was tested at Smith Barcardere before it was moved to Seven Mile Beach (Photo courtesy of Rotary Central, which largely funded the mat)

(CNS) Updated with statement from MLA Barbara Conolly: The National Council for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD) has made it clear that it expects the renovations of Smith Barcadere (aka Smith Cove) to include access for disabled people. At a public meeting in George Town South last week about the enhancement project, the Progressive MLA for the constituency, Barbara Conolly, commented that she didn’t think it was appropriate to install a Mobi-mat, which provides such access. However, the NCPWD has said it expects that “plans will adopt a proactive approach towards full inclusion for persons with disabilities and mobility issues and consider all accessibility options”.

Without mentioning Conolly, the councillor for the education department, by name, the NCPWD welcomed plans for a cross-walk, disability parking slots and accessible toilets but also called on the government to ensure that the new public beach area, purchased with public cash, should include an access ramp or Mobi-mat so that everyone could use it.

Taking aim at Conolly’s comments, the council added, “Any statements to the contrary, while perhaps unintended, are not consistent with the goals and objectives of the National Disabilities Policy.” The members referred to the MLA’s comments that a Mobi-mat was not needed at this location because there is already one on Seven Mile Public Beach — which stirred up considerable concern within the disabled community.

The council pointed out that because government intends to include facilities for the disabled at Smith Cove, the new plans will also require an access ramp, path or Mobi-mat from the proposed beach-side parking lot down to the waterline to be effective, otherwise the beach would still remain inaccessible to most of those that would use the blue spot and accessible bathrooms.

“Our National Disabilities Policy delivers a mandate to improve the lives of persons with disabilities by creating a level playing field for all public services, which would include public beaches, such as Smith Barcadere,” the council said. “The goal over time should be to improve as many public beaches as possible, as persons with disabilities and/or mobility issues live in every district of our Islands and they deserve the right to be able to use any public beach, in the same way that everyone else can.”

The council also pointed out that disabled visitors will also require such access.

“Given the reliance of our economy on tourism, it is also to the country’s benefit to ensure as many of our public beaches as possible are accessible for the wide range of visitors that arrive every day,” the members stated.

Heartened by the “overwhelming support of recent initiatives to improve the lives of persons with disabilities”, the council said it was confident that government would continue the positive moves to where all public spaces or buildings include access for all members of the Cayman community and visitors.

In a short statement on its Facebook page, the Autism Society of the Cayman Islands said it was in strong support of inclusion for all special needs members of the community: “We would hope that the comments expressed by MLA Barbara Connolly at Smith Barcadere meeting held on Tuesday night would be reconsidered and a forum be held where all stakeholders involved would have the opportunity to provide feedback on the use of the Mobi-Mat at Smith Cove and other public beaches around our beautiful islands.”

Since making those comments about disability access at the meeting, which some described as insensitive, Conolly has suggested that the location was not suitable for a Mobi-mat, not that she had wanted to deny access.

Statement from Barbara Conolly, 19 July 2018:

Following a 10 July community meeting regarding the redevelopment of Smith Barcadere at South Sound Community Centre and the ensuing comments made through various forms of media, I want to assure the people of the Cayman Islands that I have the best for my people at heart.

I want to take this opportunity to clearly state that I recognize the importance of accommodating the disabled, handicapped and elderly.  The responsibility of our Government is to encompass all citizens when providing facilities, amenities or services. At no time during the meeting was it the intention of any member of the panel, including me, to appear to be insensitive and disrespectful to anyone.

Those of you who know me well can attest to the fact that my greatest passion is for the people of these Islands, and more importantly, to the most vulnerable. 

My Committee, together with the Government, will strive to do what is best for Smith Barcadere and explore all options in terms of accessibility for ALL people of the Cayman Islands.

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Category: Community, Local News

Comments (65)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    These comments and the dog comments. I’m ashamed to be a Caymanian. We are known by how we treat our most vulnerable Ghandi said. Well, we treat our vulnerable terrible. Shame Shame. smh

  2. Anonymous says:

    Yes. Natural bush is best.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Oh well, there goes the budget

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  4. Anonymous says:

    No one can stop the use of a public beach for cruise ship tourists. Whether there be one or ten thousand. But as we know it really doesn’t affect the local residences. Cruise ship passengers would be gone when locals usually use the beach. I think they should put a boardwalk on all public beaches so people can walk on it who need assistance to the water.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Actually, what the CIG CAN do is designate an area of public land ‘non-commercial’. So you can’t stop someone from walking in to Smith Cove (getting a cab there, whatever) but you can stop the commercialization that is … affecting … the West Bay Road Public Beach.

      (Here’s a contest, as we get more public beaches formally designated, what do we change the name of THE public beach to?)

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  5. anonymous says:

    I have been to many beaches around the world, but do not recall seeing any mobi-mats.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    The comments against something like this show a bigger problem here in Cayman. No one cares about disabled people. Every single day I see cars parked in disabled spots that don’t belong there and now I see all these people against the elderly and disabled having easy access to the ocean. Wow, true caymankind.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you for your opinion. People do care. There is more good than evil. Not all disabled people shop and regularly go to a beach. And it is not because there is no mobi mats. Ask them before making a “ statement of fact”.

      5.38pm is one of the best comments. He knows what he is talking about.

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    • Anonymous says:

      …or maybe some Caymanians care very much about our pristine environment and see value in protecting at all costs – without an automatic or reckless concession to the disabled.

      Isn’t that approach in the spirit of true “equality”?

      We want everyone to enjoy our beaches and this shall remain the ultimate objective, however, the journey to making it happen must be carefully considered and executed.

      – Who

      #caymankind #warmandfriendly #theysaidsonotus #trueequality #nopatronizing

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      • Anonymous says:

        “We want everyone to enjoy our beaches and this shall remain the ultimate objective”
        Everyone except the disabled it would appear…
        I hope you feel the same way when you are older Who
        I’ll let you in on a little secret, just because an area was in a particular way when you were a kid doesn’t mean you are entitled to declare the area should never be touched for your sake
        The only things you are entitled to from your past are your memories
        If making 2 beaches on Cayman accessible to EVERYONE is too much for you to handle I suggest you find a day job separate from policing comments and attacking anyone who disagrees on CNS

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        • Anonymous says:

          A simple; “I hate you Who”, would have saved us all a lot of time.

          Anyway, I hope you attained a much-needed sense of relief when you hit the “post comment” button.

          Very sad.

          – Who

      • Anonymous says:

        Adding hastags doesn’t change the contents of the message
        Essentially:
        Elderly and the disabled, you can do your next best

      • Anonymous says:

        Pristine environment? That’s why they’re throwing their garbage out their car windows?

  7. Anonymous says:

    My father has been wheelchair bound for his entire adult life. He dives, and goes to the beach side, but he’s not planning to drive his $3000 alloy wheelchair into the sea anytime soon. The mobimat is a neat idea, but ultimately relies upon transfer to a salt water compatible chair (like WaterWheels), with large high-floatation beach wheels. You still need someone willing to thrust you there and back, swim with you, dry you off, and load it all back into the vehicle. The existence of a mobi-mat makes the campaign only fractionally easier, while making a discouraging spectacle of the procession. A free high-flotation beach chair rental might be a cheaper solution…secure it’s return with a valid credit card, or a sand-colored mat so that it doesn’t become the dominant feature of the attraction.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Barbara… the 2nd coming of Marco, insensitive and obnoxious and lacks empathy and operates with blinders on. she has joined the elitist ranks of Alden, Joey, Wayne and Tara. God help us!

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      • Anonymous says:

        You clearly have no idea what you are talking about to even think of comparing these two.

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      • Anonymous says:

        A very unfair commenyt!

        Barbara and a few other MLAs do care about us, the people, she is at least trying to do something for the people, unlike most MLAs.

        I agree that the Minimal for George Town / West should be at the West Bay Public Beach under proper management to ensure it lasts for many years.

  8. Say it like it is says:

    We should bear in mind when so many commenters wish to preserve the natural state of the cove that the mobi mat will be there permanently. This should be considered in the context of usage, how many disabled people who want to swim in the sea live nearby, and will use it on a regular basis?. A large number of public buildings, especially supermarkets have many handicapped parking spots, but I have never seen them all in use. In fact most times they are completely empty and the public is deprived of parking space.So far one family has requested a mobi-mat, but we really need to know how much demand there would be for it.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    When it comes to preservation and protection of the natural environment, that mission trumps ALL other concerns – and this is standard protocol the world over.

    Visit just about any treasured natural site in the USA, Canada, UK, Germany, Hungary, etc., especially along their coasts, and you will be hard-pressed to find any structures or artificial additions whatsoever – especially at the core of said site(s).

    No ramps, mobi-mats, trolley systems and such. Preservation of the natural state is the sole concern.

    Is Cayman not worthy of the same high standards?

    Obviously, many folks are caught up in the modern wave of extremist political-correctess, but unfortunately for you, I, and everyone else – protection of the environment must always have the final say.

    Clearly these intrusive and manufactured “mobimats” have some negative impact on the creatures, organisms, and overall ecosystem that exist on our beaches, (heaven forbid the interruption of turtle nest and hatchlings’ journey to the water) therefore it is only sensible and responsible to explore any work-arounds.

    Again, there are options available (e.g. beach wheelchairs) that enable individual access for the disabled (and elderly) along the sand, down to the water, and even ultimately converting into floating devices.
    Could we not; purchase a bunch of them, store in the parking lot or on the edge of the beach, and grant free and unlimited access for everyone who needs?

    Call me silly, but that sounds like a solution that represents a win for all sides – if done correctly, could even be a bonus for many users.

    I am a staunch believer that such global standards of environmental protection must be adhered to in the Cayman Islands – in fact, considering our limited size and dependence on the environment, it should be insisted upon.
    Holding even our disabled to a standard will send an equal, strong, and much needed message in respect to the need to adjust / maintain our attitudes in this regard.

    Others are free to disagree, however, to do so and to dismiss the forwarded alternatives (or other options) leads me to believe their motivation is not as claimed or implied.

    – Who

    *For the record, since some are assuming otherwise, there are disabled and elderly people in my life as well.

    ** Having just watched the video; I have a lot more hot say but shall refrain as it is not good – for the proponents.

    smh

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    • Anonymous says:

      Well said Sir!

      What happens when these mats start to degraded and dry rot? The pieces will just further pollute our beaches. And who is rolling the mats up during a storm?? This is a environmental disaster waiting to happen.

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    • Anonymous says:

      No mention of relevant and comparable countries in the Caribbean and Pacific
      This idea that conservation equals a complete lack of human additions is farcical
      The false equivalence is stunning
      Then again I forgot Who wrote this comment

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      • Anonymous says:

        Ok Bub, you got in your obligatory “Who jab”.
        Happy?

        Anyway, I hope you realise how much of an idiot you proved yourself to everyone looking on.

        – Who

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    • Anonymous says:

      Not often I agree with Who but well said. It’s unfortunate that beach access is difficult for the disabled but so are many things and spoiling the natural environment for all is not a good solution. How many people would even use such facilities? I’ve never seen a disabled person use one of the hundreds of disabled parking spots on island!

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  10. Anon says:

    We agree with Barbara. She meant no harm nor discrimination in what she said.
    It is cost prohibitive to have a mat at every beach so having one or two is ok.
    Calm down people. Get over it. Disabled people can get militant and agressive.
    One wheel chair person came to my yard and claimed my lawn had things that broke his chair mobility.
    Go figure. They are doing fine. We are sorry for them but Cayman is not California and we have a small budget.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Why don’t you just go sit in the room with the rest of the “privileged class” and hope that you never have any problem with your health.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman is absolutely piss poor when it comes down to looking after disabled. Anon 3:23. Government sure seems to have a budget to do every other dumbass idea that goes over budget, including the building of schools, an airport that is already over capacity, planning for a cruise berthing facility that is not necessary, but looking after its people? They have not a clue. I certainly hope you never end up in a wheel chair sir.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    I’d bet my last $ there’s a local agent possibly politically or committee connected hedging for a big$ CIG contract to cover all of Cayman with these things.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Hello there Disability Council. There are disabled people in West Bay, and the public beach there should have a mat too.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Has no one realized what’s going on here? Royal palms bought out by Dart means when Dart decides to put up another hotel and close the beach to cruishippers we will desperately need somewhere else to bus them to for the day. Yep Smiths Cove Barcadere is where they will be taking 20k cruishippers every day once the port expansion is complete. I think poor old AL T is going senile or hasn’t worked out what the plan really is! No sane person would be advocating for having 20k deplorables dumped on their front door step every day.

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    • Anonymous says:

      At most there are a couple thousand people that come off the cruise ships when they are in port, nowhere near 20k but that won’t stop the incessant, thoughtless fear-mongering

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  14. William Inniss says:

    Yes, we were testing a mobi-mat at Smith-cove 13 weeks ago (the one that was later installed at Public Beach) to see what it looked like. Tourists just started using it like it was there all along. Not sure it’s the right solution at this location by itself, perhaps a boardwalk hybrid with a ramp could be incorporated in the development plans for the area, but it’s a great product that should be tried around the Island. This is a very positive discussion to be having 🙂

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  15. Anonymous says:

    Hello, I actually thought that there was a law back in in the years that i thought that all beaches were public

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    • Anonymous says:

      Poster at 1.10 p.m. You are right, we owned the beach, until it was given away. That was a sad day for Cayman.

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      • Anonymous says:

        We owned the beach and used it for graveyards. Then when we could have bought beach lots for $50k that now sell for over $1M we didn’t because we were scared of our parents’ stories of ‘the storm of ’32’. We were stupid and ignorant and that stupidity and ignorance was exploited. There have been a lot of sad days in Cayman and they’re happening at least weekly to this day.

    • Anonymous says:

      If only that were the case

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    • Anonymous says:

      @1:10 The law still states that beaches are and will always remain public to the high water mark and must have accesses. Government turns a blind eye because they are afraid of stepping on the toes of the foreign dollar buyer who expects/demands the beach their private domain.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, and the high water mark is where the fully dry sand starts that anyone would want to sit or put their stuff on. So what the public really has the right to do is walk along the shore, and swim in the ocean. Whoever drafted that law should have added a buffer that was also public land between the high water mark and the boundary of any private property. But of course, we thought we were clever enough using the term high water mark we left it at that.

      • Self-hating Caymanian says:

        Yes, and the high water mark is where the fully dry sand starts that anyone would want to sit or put their stuff on. So what the public really has the right to do is walk along the shore, and swim in the ocean. Whoever drafted that law should have added a buffer that was also public land between the high water mark and the boundary of any private property. But of course, we thought we were clever enough using the term high water mark we left it at that.

  16. nauticalone says:

    I fully agree with the NCPWD here. I expected better of Ms. Connolly or any MLA saying otherwise.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    What is it’s actual name?

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  18. Keep it natural says:

    Again, do we really need this man made clutter at Smith’s Cove. Wheel chairs are able to move across sand with a beach conversion kit. Essentially this is beach buggy wheels for wheelchairs. Then again, this might be a no go here as beach buggies are outlawed. Depends which committee or individual we have interpreting that law. Sigh…..

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  19. West Bay Premier says:

    Dear , Disability Council and Community , is it more important to have the disabled Mobi- mat , than making sure that government don’t completely take over Smith cove ?
    I agree that the disabled people should have the same access as anyone else . But look at 7 mile public beach which is under the control of government , pretty soon that beach would be unacessible to everyone . I am sure that everyone doesn’t want Smith to be full of VENDORS AND CRUISE SHIP HIPPIES .

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  20. AlanP says:

    Manipulation is the action of manipulating someone in a clever or unscrupulous way.

    “Given the reliance of our economy on tourism..” is a clearly manipulative statement.

    Why suddenly so much activity around Smith Cove? You start to wonder what the hidden agenda is.

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    • Anonymous says:

      11:01 Simple answer to your question – money! Someone’s figured out a way to screw every last cent they can out of Smith Cove and they’re determined that nothing the public can do will get in their way.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The agenda is, the Royal Palms cruise shippers will need some place to go when Dart builds a new hotel in that location and closes beach access for them. South Sound will never be the same. Tragic!

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  21. Soldier Crab says:

    You want to make it safer for the elderly, children, and disable – GEY RID OF THE MAIN ROAD in front of AL Thompson’s home, and extend the beach! Plant trees, place rockeries, seats, and beautify the environment at Smith Cove.

    Government officials can always get together, brainstorm, and look at the Planning and Road laws to divert traffic.

    Don’t listen to the naysayers who have no vision.

    Peace

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    • Anonymous says:

      Soldier crab has been drinking a Heineken that someone left at the beach. Go home soldier crab, you’re drunk.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Ha-ha-ha! That’s one Main Road closure application that would not get approved by the CPA-AL-T !!!

  22. Elvis says:

    He he here we go , let’s get a ramp and forget all the big issues in cayman yeah?

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  23. AlanP says:

    I haven’t seen Moby mats anywhere in Florida. May be it is a new thing.

    Common sense should prevail. Lets start with how many disabled people in Grand Cayman that are unable to access the beach with the help of friends and family?
    No need to manipulate with a “disabled visitors” argument here.
    People of Grand Cayman have decided to keep Smith Cove to themselves, eliminating tour buses and trolley’s visitors.
    The video is hilarious. Why are they walking on the Moby mat?

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  24. Anony says:

    Oh dear, so many problems!

  25. Anonymous says:

    Why doesn’t the disability council organize a disability beach day at a random beach spot once a month so our disabled can get a chance to experience all beaches on the island? I think this is a better idea than a permanent matt at SC.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Because like you or me we can go whenever we feel like it. Why punish someone because they have no control over their disability? Shame on all of you not wanting these. I hope you’re never in a terrible accident that leaves you paralyzed.

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      • Anonymous says:

        That is an aggressive and mean comment. Noone is against disabled people. But it has to be done properly.

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      • Anonymous says:

        So we should carpet all of our beaches with ugly rubber mats or just remove the sand? Life isn’t fair! Get over it!

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        • Anonymous says:

          It’s one mat! Carpeting the beach is a stretch but good on you for really bringing your discriminating views to light.

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