Bid to save Barkers from development intensifies

| 10/12/2018 | 69 Comments
Cayman News Service

Barkers Beach, Grand Cayman

(CNS): Activists fighting the latest environmental battle to save the dwindling natural resources on the Cayman Islands are hosting another meeting in West Bay on Tuesday. The Save Barkers Beach campaign has been intensifying as organisers collect signatures for a petition and urge people to contact the ministry responsible for the environment to lodge their objections about a coastal works application to remove 180,000 square feet (more than four acres) of turtle grass at the much-loved beach area in West Bay and build a 300-foot pier.

At this second meeting on the issue, organisers are expecting Handel Whittaker, the owner of Calico Jack’s, to attend. The popular beach bar is being ousted from its long-standing spot on Seven Mile Beach by the landlord, Dart. The lease for the location will expire in 2020, and given its proximity to the Kimpton resort and another beachfront plot that the islands’ most powerful developer also hopes to develop, Whittaker has been offered a lease on a piece of beachfront property that Dart owns in the Barkers area.

But even before Whittaker can get planning permission to build what would be the first-ever commercial development in the area, he is seeking a coastal works licence to clear the area of the naturally and ecologically important sea-grass and construct a dock, which would not only allow boats to bring guests to the bar but would also facilitate excursions to Stingray City and the Sandbar.

However, the idea has caused considerable concern, not just in West Bay, where Barkers is an extremely important beach area to all residents, but also the wider community, with the prospect of development arriving at the last unspoiled beach in the district.

At the first meeting, which attracted many West Bay residents, including a group of young, vocal Caymanian students, it was revealed that the community is extremely worried about this application and what kind of precedent it could set for the future of Barkers. It was quite clear that the people want Barkers to remain untouched.

An editorial in the Cayman Compass last week, in which the owners of the paper derided the people for their desire to preserve the environmentally sensitive location, also stirred up more anger.

The National Trust for the Cayman Islands released a formal response and pointed out that people not only have the right to voice their concerns about protecting the islands but there was a need to “hold government accountable by asking questions, requiring transparency or campaigning for parts of our islands which it is believed should be protected”, as they urged people to continue speaking out.

Although previous governments have toyed with the idea of protecting Barkers by making it a national park, it has never been formally designated as such. More recently, the Department of Environment moved to place some of the wetland area owned by the crown in the proposed park under protection as a result of the importance of the habitat and the species it supports, but they have been unable to do much more for a host of reasons.

Much of the beachfront around the headland area is in private hands and remains without any protection. Dart’s acquisition of a large chunk of the land has compounded the challenges the DoE has faced in trying to protect more of the popular area.

This next meeting comes just a few days before the deadline on Friday to submit comments on the coastal works application, which will be decided by Cabinet.

The public meeting will take place at the John Gray Memorial Hall, next to the four-way stop in West Bay at 7pm Tuesday.

See full response from the National Trust in the CNS Library

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Category: Local News

Comments (69)

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  1. Raffaelle says:

    When our Rinky Dink leadership fails to act in the best interest of the Cayman Islands these situations will continue to unfolded. The irony of it now is that the two main principals/ “Parties” in this entire fiasco are now join together in a very unholy marriage of convenience which has produce and brought forth some very destructive outcomes and terrible situations we now find ourselves facing.We have seen the rise of untouchable foreign civil servants protected by the highest office in the land .Land Barons who have in their employ former connected ex officials who give and unfair advantage and knowledge about every facet of the Cayman Islands Government including supposed to be secret Cabinet decisions! Barkers like Cayman and its people are now being exploited and prostituted. All because we gave them the power which has enable them to do it in return we got a few little trinkets and some conveniences,which by the way our so called politicians are the benefactors and recipients of in the long run. We now have to ban together and gather signatures to do what we voted them into power and pay them handsomely to do. How truly sad Cayman but you made the decisions in the last election and those who did not vote for them are now being treated as those shareholders at CNB who didn’t agree with the takeover by Republic Bank of Trinidad. The “greedy” Caymanian is your enemy not Mr Dart he now need i remind you after all is one of US, that right was bestowed on him by those “WE” elected. My case in point. I encourage all like minded Caymanians to take time and research the Gulfco ltd and the parties involved and learn from this terrible environmental dilemma, so we do not keep repeating it in the future and we hold those who are really responsible for the Barkers situation to account.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The thousands of signatories to the anti-port petition for a referendum should start a new political party and elect better leaders in 2021. This lot don’t listen and won’t listen to the people.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Apparently the CI Govt are pretty loaded currently with all the duties on construction/etc in recent years and have been on a buying spree….why not buy the property back from Dart, and as much surrounding property adjacent to the already marked National Park thats protected….i’d sign that petition….development is great, but we dont need it EVERYWHERE…buy it back.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    IN CASE YOU’VE MISSED THIS NEWS.

    “Baptist Health International Inaugurates PET and CT Imaging Center in Grand Cayman”.
    “..more than 900 Cayman cancer patients travel overseas annually to get such scans”

    Allelujah! What an achievement!

    We need more development that’d bring more people who’d bring more pollution which would create more cancer patients who would be nuked by PET/CAT scans =exposed to cancer-causing radiation. Then radioactive hospital waste would be taken to the Dump. And who knows what happens next. But don’t worry, PET/CAT scans are available on island now, plus Health City will be treating cancer patients soon.

    Meantime, we supply all children with sunglasses to celebrate Hospital’s ignorance of the role of light hitting retina in human health.

    P.S. The solid waste generated in NM (nuclear medicine) includes cover papers, gloves, contaminated items, empty vials, and syringes. The liquid waste may comprise unused or leftover radiopharmaceutic solutions, radioactive spills, decontamination effluents, laboratory washings, and so on.

    Welcome to Paradise!

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  4. Anonymous says:

    protesting west bayers????…the same folks that elect whogene/mac everytime….zzzzzzzzzz
    bunch of clowns

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t Barkrs a National Park? If not why not? Does the Government still own a large part of this area? Do we really need hotels and restaurants in this area? I was under the impression Dart had baught land here to make it a National Park and protect it from development.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    This is not about DART. The issue is about protecting an important ecosystem, one of the last remaining on this part of the island.

    Barkers has played an important role in the culture and history of Grand Cayman, particularly the people of West Bay. Those who understand this and know about that history and what it means can appreciate the negative and intangible implications that developing this area will have on the marine life and peoples of this island. This is the LARGEST REMAINING natural beaches, wetlands, ecosystems found in West or WB road.

    Most of the TRASH, as some people may not realize is ACTUALLY WASHED up from other islands because of the currents etc…

    My great-grandparents (one still living at 99 years old), my grandparents and family members as children have used and still use Barkers as a place to:
    ~learn how to fish (& as my grandparents generation did; catch fish for dinner)
    ~learn to swim
    ~observe & learn about marine life
    ~learn about the mangrove ecosystems (I still do this today with my children & students)
    ~use as a recreational place
    ~hike and cycle

    This area is also used by many tourists who come to Grand Cayman (especially those who stay in West Bay and on West Bay road). Barkers is appealing to many stayover tourists who ask for and want to experience, the natural beauty of the island. This is one of the remaining areas on this side of the island for those stayover tourists who want to experience this (the demographic that this is most appealing to, are the Millenials; who travel and want to enjoy EXPERIENCES in a local and natural setting; like horseback riding on the beach, kiteboarding, snorkeling, hiking etc..)

    The development of this area cannot be taken lightly, because of the environmental and social impact that it will have on the people of these islands (generational / native people, those who have a newer history to Cayman, those who reside here and the future generations to come!) There is a lot to be said and a great deal of EDUCATION about this area that needs to be shared with the wider public!

    If there is to be development to Barkers, then it should be done with the idea of protecting, conserving, educating and done with positive long term implications. For example; this would be the perfect area for a marine school (similar to CCMI), eco-friendly businesses, that locals, residents and visitors can all enjoy with minimal marine impact.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Caymanians selling out caymanians. Whether it be the landowners or the government officials looking to line their pockets and allowing Dart to build wherever, whenever. Stop looking for other people to blame.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Once everyone realized this proposal was not in fact in Barkers, only the most unhappy and unfulfilled remained engaged in protest.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Where was the outcry when you all were using Barkers as a West Bay mini-dump? Not a peep! …but the lashing out against DART will continue. SMH, I’ll see you all at Camana Bay this weekend. DART can’t do nothing unless CAYMANIANS in CIG approve. Check ya self.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Futile.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Everyone needs to stop going to calico jacks now. Take the local presence away so they can see how dead the new place will be when the ships go home.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Same people complaining are the ones that toss their trash all over the beach.

    Pretty sure Dart has already approached the government about donating some of the Barkers land for preservation.

    I just don’t get why people have such contempt against Dart. If it wasn’t him it would be somebody else…I’m just glad it’s him and not 60 developers competing against each other and cutting corners.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Fools and the selfserving, hold those who do great achievement (for everyone) in contempt.

      It’s actually quite disgusting to see.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Seems you’ve been drinking the dart coolaid….

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    • Anonymous says:

      Pursuant to the 1977 development plan all of the land at Barkers was zoned for development, the interior land Residential and the beach land Hotel & Tourist Related development. Most of the locals that owned property there subsequently sold their land to prospective developers who was assured, by zoning of the development plan, that they would be able to develop their land at some future date.
      The people that sold the land now want it back after they have spent the money that they derived from the sale of the land. Now they are demanding that Government use the money that the rest of us pay in taxes to buy it back for them so they can get it back to use and keep it from being developed. They should have thought of this when they sold the land originally. I wonder how much land the ‘activists’ that want it back now, owned and sold? Is this what we want to tell developers, we’ll sell you our land then change the rules later to make it useless?

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Notice they are palming everything off on Handel. Its their land a rep from their company should attend the meeting. They have to consent to the application for coastal works license they own the land. Handel is merely a displaced “tenant”. Dart own WAAYYYYY more suitable properties that Calico’s could move to without this work. Calico’s isn’t going in Barkers, at least not for long. They are building he bora bora style huts out in the water so they need to clear the water for that. NOTICE Handel isn’t even a tenant, he is a licensee. Dart didn’t lease him the land Calico’s is on, they licensed him to use it. Under a license they can terminate it at any time without notice. Check Lands and you will see there is NO lease registered for this land. All they are doing is using a backhanded way to get what they want. Once this is approved, they clear the water, let Handel operate for a few years and then terminate his license and build what they want. SMH and we all know planning approval is in the bag.

    Christine Maltman is who they use to make their planning application and she is ex-civil service in planning. Ken Hydes is the puppet to smooth the Bayers. Its a done deal sadly.

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    • Anonymous says:

      If Ken Hydes a puppet wah da make you???? Do you know the man at all???? Is that what this is about??? May be you should get to know the man and truly understand the contribution that he make to these islands before you go off and call him names…

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      • CEbanks says:

        True say….Ken Hydes is no puppet He is the meaning of CaymanKind and does not deserve to be treated with anything less than gratitude and respect. And Ms Maltman retired from Dart months ago. As for Mr Handel, don’t kid yourself thinking he would allow himself to be placed in a situation he didn’t want to be in. Commentor at 9:02 must be jealous and vindictive.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Hahahahahahaha Sorry but I’ve been sitting here waiting for this.
    Just remember, it has been YOUR own people doing this.
    More to come.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    If you don’t think there’ll be a Sandals resort up there before 2023, i’ve got some ice from Alaska in my freezer to sell ya!
    and whilst we’re at it, can i take some bets on how long before we have 15/20 storey towers next to the Kimpton on that ‘music festival site’ that’s being built?!
    oh, and let’s take bets on who builds the cruise piers that will happen no matter what petitions we all sign
    and wait for the starfish point luxury resort
    and some more over passes and tunnels
    and they’ll even try a school next to the dump….oh wait, that’s done and now they’rebuilding homes next to it!!
    there is no stopping them….and they definitely dont own any media outlets…nope!!!

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  16. Anonymous says:

    Funny how the local paper keeps quiet about these things. I guess they don’t want to offend their major shareholder.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    Stop the cement! Have enough of that in the city where I live. I don’t want to spend a couple grand to come down for sun and cement. I want sun, beach, and green, natural areas!

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  18. land crab says:

    If we have learnt anything about commercial development in Cayman it’s that money talks. All these landowners (many of them local) have sold out to Dart because he will pay more than anyone else and what he does with the land does not concern the sellers, just the $ dancing before their greedy eyes.

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  19. West Baya says:

    11 million was spent on a helicopter.
    11 million on a paved road
    At least, spend on millions to acquire beaches for your future generations!

    COME ON, MLAs !!!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Yes and/or CIG (or a partnership between CIG and National Trust) apply eminent domain on the property, pay Dart the fair market value, and make the entire area a national park.

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  20. Anonymous says:

    yawn….people objecting for no reason…zzzzzzzzzzz
    wait for the eis…then comment.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Caymanians sold this land and collected their money. Now they want Barkus preserved? Should have thought about that before selling it. Look at 7 mile beach what it looks like “Caymanians sold their land”. Can’t sell something then expect the new owners not to do what they would like!!!

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      • Anonymous says:

        Agreed, but the new owners should be up front about their development plans.
        The West Bay road tunnel was just “a pedestrian crosswalk” right ? With Pictures of trees on it . It is in fact the foundations of proposed development over it.

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      • Brian Burns says:

        It’s just used as a garbage dump anyways….

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      • Anonymous says:

        8.49 It’s Barkers not Barkus for a start.

        This is not about the land but the removal of sea grass from a Marine Park Replenishment Zone. If you need educating on the importance of these areas, then please do so before shooting off again.

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        • Anonymous says:

          10:44am, firstly this is a blog, spelling a word incorrect isn’t a crime, secondly I don’t need any education on the importance of these areas. I knew Mangroves weren’t suppose to be removed, yet Ryan removed and got away with it. You sell your land, the owners can do what they want with it. Caymanians sold their beach and Cayman to foreigners. Dart owns half the Island already. He will do as he pleases, a little to late don’t you think. The tunnel, the so called bridge? Everyone complains yet they sold out and b……g about it now.

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  21. Anonymous says:

    What DART wants, the Government shall provide…Done deal so stop wasting your time…

    Cayman is gone folks…gone! Bought and sold…worse thing is we did it to ourselves..

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    • Anonymous says:

      Sad thing is that in a few years when it’s all “cleaned up”. (For the good of Camanians of course ), the Darts will call up their friend to let him know that the property is now ready for his hotel.

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      • Anonymous says:

        I saw Butch here the other day with Moses so you know something is in the works.. He is lobbying government to change the law so that the all inclusive he plans to build here will have its own private beach…Guess where it’s going??

        Money talking….

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        • Anonymous says:

          Spot on 2.30 and Calico/Whittaker are convenient pawns in Dart’s long game to have the turtle grass removed, then have a hotel on that land.
          Just wish they wouldn’t keep treating us like fools.

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        • Anonymous says:

          What I can’t figure out is why Moses isn’t trying other than buying airplanes to increase Tourism on the Brac.. If Butch wants a hotel send him up on the Bluff where they can have all the privacy they want ..

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  22. Anonymous says:

    A development there is great news!

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    • Anonymous says:

      How old are you?

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      • Anonymous says:

        Old enough to know that a Nation like Cayman can’t sit idle and must position itself for a better future! Develop the area responsibly! Develop they must!

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        • Anonymous says:

          No.. just need to stop favoring OLD ways and change some OLD laws to keep up with the times (future). Man-made environmental changes should be the last thing if that for progress on an Island small as us

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      • Anonymous says:

        Old enough to put you over my knee and give you what’s coming.

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  23. Anonymous says:

    Mr Speaker as you are the stalwart for West Bay, why don’t you get this settled and stop this nonsense before our pristine area is ruined? You have your good associate Captain Eugene there with you so please do the right thing.

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  24. Anonymous says:

    How did government acquire all the land they own up there?

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