Ministry still vague on fate of trees in GT revamp

| 24/10/2018 | 30 Comments
Cayman News Service

George Town, Grand Cayman

(CNS): The government has taken aim at Cayman News Service and falsely claimed that a recent report suggested officials were planning a mass removal of trees in George Town as part of the long anticipated but as yet undefined revitalisation project in the capital. But in a statement attempting to refute things which were not in the article, the government has still not explained its vision for the enhancement to the people. “The redesign of the space will be guided by the principles of New Urbanism,” the planning ministry said in a statement, adding it would prioritise “walkability/connectivity, mixed use and sustainability”, as well as landscaping.

Following comments made by the new George Town manager, Colin Lumsden, an architect formerly with the Public Works Department, at a conference last month, where it was stated that trees would be removed as part of the project, CNS attempted to contact senior civil servants and the minister on several occasions and submitted clear questions in writing. However, after more than two weeks of trying, no one responded to any of our inquiries about plans to remove trees.

As a result, we published a short report questioning what government’s intentions were, which received considerable attention with well over 100 comments from people largely concerned about environmental issues.

Nowhere in the CNS report does it say that government was planning a “mass” removal of tress, as government claimed in the statement circulated Tuesday evening. However, in the statement government failed, yet again, to answer the questions CNS had posed and gives very little information about the revitalisation plan that was promised by the previous as well as the current PPM-led coalition.

The statement said, “To begin the process of the redesign, community and stakeholder involvement and input will be key. In fact, some stakeholder engagement has already taken place, and more is planned to ensure the needs of the people are factored into the redesign.” However, no details of that were given.

“The revitalisation of George Town will take time, but we are committed to ensuring that our people are involved in the process and that it will be sustainable,” the ministry stated in the release, which appeared to be aimed at criticising this independent news organisation rather than responding to the public’s right to know.

Officials from the ministry stated, “The project team is also exploring ways in which some immediate changes and improvements can be made, which could include altering sidewalks, in an effort to provide more and safer walking space for pedestrians. In addition, there will be landscaping improvements.”

The government then implied that the removal of trees would be part of the beautification process at a park in George Town where “trimming back shrubbery that is currently blocking one of the monuments in the park” would be required. “The beautification efforts would not include the mass removal of trees, and would not be done without purpose,” officials added.

“Creating more green spaces have always been a priority for government. The George Town Revitalization Project aims to create a bustling, vibrant town with lots of greenery, not less trees,” the ministry stated, adding that it was  “disappointed that something so positive could be taken out of context and portrayed so negatively”.

But government has still chosen not to explain, and ignore inquiries about, what was meant when ministry officials told the NRA conference that one of the first things the town boss would be doing was to remove trees.

Related article: CIG plans to rip up trees in George Town

See the government’s full statement here: GT Revitalization Project

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Category: Local News

Comments (30)

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  1. Observer says:

    Make town like another Camana Bay, a zone for shopping, a zone for entertainment, a zone for work and banks, a zone for parking, etc …. and plant as much native trees as possible.

    Bring back our fruit trees too, like guinep, tamarind, and small mangoe trees. We use to have many of them in town, but we kept cutting them down trees, saying they are messy and a nuisance. Look at Camana Bay. I think in some respects, it is a perfect blueprint of how George Town should be. We don’t have to copy Dart’s architecture. I think his later works on Camana Bay are not so beautufying like his first works. But we need, I believe, a town that has an aspect at its at every corner. George Town needs to be romanticize, beautified, and hospitality-friendly place with seatings and nature!

    Government can start with a blue print, then join the banks and businesses into the town planning for suggestions and recommendations. All profiteering aims from big named entities should be put aside –

    This is about beautifying town and making our home more hospitable for all, and our future generation! Negotiations with the businesses and banks has to be made. Let the public know of the town plans to tear down old buildings and buildup new beautiful ones, establish parks, traffic flow, and car zones, and zones, etc …. Its going to be alot of planning, work, and private-public togetherness and parnerships.

    But if nothing is done, George Town will always be disorganized, a concrete jungle, and dead. I am afraid not even the tourists will want to stay, they will just walk right through town back on their ships! Town right now is hot, dusty, jammed up with cars, no parking spaces, the big money makers have hogged the ocean view, and no there is not enough trees and nature. Its terrible.

    My 2 cent

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    • Anonymous says:

      I completely agree with your last paragraph, but we don’t need another copy of characterless Camana Bay. We need revitalization and modernization that also has Island charm and character.

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      • Chris Johnson says:

        I agree but let us cut out the blame game and do something constructive. I have mentioned this before but Rotary is always happy to assist beautification projects and the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman has been doing them for fifty years or more including several parks around the island, the Palm trees surrounding the airport and along west bay road. We also,planted the black olive trees on Cardinal Avenue many years ago. At that time we also put several benches around the town for people, particularly tourists to rest on. These disappeared many years ago. They were built at the prison who received money for doing that and when I made enquirey a couple of years ago they were happy to assist in building new ones. I am sure Rotary and other service clubs will be happy to assist.

        Whilst one might ask banks, accounting firms and lawyers to assist they have emigrated to Cricket Square and Camana Bay. The real beneficiaries are the shops, so they can assist the projects and perhaps a few condominiums who in my experience do not seem to contribute much to the island. In conclusion I implore government and indeed others to chop down as few trees as possible. This is not the Amazon.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You show me a Guinep, mango,tamarind,sour orange, almond,breadfruit,Ackee and such in caymanabay and I’ll give you the Easter egg award.

      But please don’t point out those sorry looking, struggling, poor excuses of fruit trees that they planted on the bypass to west bay 5 years ago that have failed to do anything. My grandma has done a better job with establishing trees. Those things are just pitiful and don’t seem to want to come to fruition.

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  2. Soldier Crab says:

    To get more ;life into a town centre you need reasons for people to go there and somewhere to park when they arrive.

    Bring back Byrite and Comart; get rid of half of the jewellery shops; remove licencing fees for bars/restaurants West of Mary St.; turn the Tower Building site into a public car park.

    Do all of that and George Town will be resurrected.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Byrite and Comart… lol.

      Typical response to problems these days: “Just revert everything back to the 60s and all of our problems will be gone.” Sorry friend, not so simple.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Add a harbour night like Bermuda has where they close down the street one night a week for a period of time and have local crafts, local food, music etc. It does not go late into the night, but it brings out locals and tourists.

  3. Anonymous says:

    unfortunately our ministries/ministers are vague on most things. when can we get rid of this sorry lot? and get people that know something about running a country? only the good Lord can spare us through until the next election.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Why wait to see how bad it gets? A voter-initiated petition for electoral reform, enactment of Standards in Public Life Law, and early by-elections, might get more signatures than the dock transparency petition.

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  4. Animaliberator says:

    George Town has trees????

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  5. Ron Ebanks says:

    Typical Politicians stonewall you , waits till you go to sleep and then cut the balance of the trees .

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  6. Anonymous says:

    It appears that we are about to embark on the “uglification’ of downtown GT. Going to make the “dry side” of GT match the “wet side” of GT?

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  7. Anonymous says:

    ok…if ppm members are lodge and central lodge headquarters are located in mandeville i was told…who running the country?????????

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  8. Anonymous says:

    “revitalisation project” — I see today they are taking away the parking spaces opposite Rackhams to put in a bike lane! How is this “revitalisation” by driving people away from town?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Disregard safety of cyclists who opt for the healthy route and don’t contribute to evening traffic for a few extra parking spaces so that your lazy rump can avoid a little walking.

      Car drivers with no respect for cyclists in Cayman are disgusting.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    They do have a point. That ridiculous invasive expat garbage tree is still on South Sound Road, maybe they do love trees after all.

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    • Anonymous says:

      …and when they had a chance to take down the Shoe Tree for the boardwalk they left the tree. Casuarinas are very bad for local plants as the needles they drop smother seeds from other, native plants. They have been trying to get rid of them in Florida for decades.

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      • Anonymous says:

        If they took it down you woulda heard the “why would you tear down a tree with such sentimental value?” cries..

        Now that they left it, you hear the “shoulda torn it down it’s invasive” cries..

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  10. George Towner says:

    Seriously, someone needs to start a

    “SAVE THE TREES” campaign!

    FAST

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  11. Local Town Planner says:

    Reads more like a GT beautification program

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  12. UnCivil Servant says:

    Typical arrogance by the elected minister and high ranking civil servants. Respond to questions and remove all doubt.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Joey Who and Lumsden are clueless

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Paint the whole damn thing orange and green. Go Canes!

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  15. Anonymous says:

    The whole of GT is desperately lacking in vegetation. Plant more trees!

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  16. Anonymous says:

    Let’s all jump on the same New Urbanist band wagon as exists in West Bay. What happened to originality? 20 years ago downtown had some island flavour left now we just get wannabe Architects following the lead of others that have turned parts of our island into Downtown Miami. This makes one wonder if CIG’s intention is to remodel the rest of downtown to fit in with the architecture of the proposed cruise port. And more to the point who the developer of this new port might be, given the statement of the hideous style of architecture involved.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    I can’t think of a ‘mass’ of trees anywhere in the GT core. It’s a concrete jungle already

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