George Town revamp still focused on roads

| 26/03/2019 | 49 Comments
Cayman News Service

George Town, Grand Cayman

(CNS): Government has said that it will soon be shifting focus from expanding and changing the road network in and around the capital to different elements of the long-planned George Town revitalization project, which will include its beautification. While road works continue to dominate the project and suck up most of the cash allocated to it, officials have said that in the coming months other aspects will start to take shape. Changes to the planning law to pave the way for mixed-use developments are also expected before the year is out.

But the road network development is still the driving force at present. Planning Minister Joey Hew, who is responsible for roads, told an audience at the recent RICS Property and Construction Conference that government was committed to the project, and the road network improvement was a priority.

He revealed that in the next few months the Olympic Way-Walker’s Road connector will be constructed to help reduce congestion and more effectively segregate school traffic. After that, work will start to connect Godfrey Nixon Way with North Church Street, creating a link for cruise and port traffic.

Hew said the road works are part of a four-year, $40 million improvement package, which was first announced almost four years ago, but in time there will be a switch in focus towards the revitalization project, which will cover just 200 acres of the capital, squeezed between Da Fish Shack in the north, Eden Rock on the south side, and by Eastern Avenue and the harbour.

Hew said that after getting a full-time town manager in post, the ministry was now able to look at moving funds from roads to “the actual revitalization of the city centre”.

During a panel presentation about the project, the deputy chief officer in the planning ministry, Tristan Hydes, cited a long list of things that need to be addressed to breathe new life into George Town, which has declined largely because of the size of building lots and the single-use commercial zoning.

Hydes spoke about the need to make it easier to walk around, creating better connected pathways, improving housing, better lighting and aesthetics, as well as more greenery.

With no quick fixes and a lot of work ahead, Hydes said, improvements to George Town will happen over the long-term. However, he said that “bigger and better things” were to come, including the issue of much taller buildings, as raised by the premier last month at the CEO conference.

Hydes said that George Town was a great place for iconic buildings and that a few developers were already proposing some much taller buildings and the planning law would need to be changed. He said the ministry was hoping to get feedback from the public on the issue.

Another important matter discussed by the panel was parking, which presents a unique challenge for the capital because of current planning laws. Charles Brown, the senior policy officer in the ministry, said the law has created a situation where almost half of the capital’s land is dedicated to parking lots but because they belong to private buildings, many of them go unused.

The planning law currently requires developers to include parking on or near to the buildings they construct.“The problem is that parking is locked up in private parking and is not accessible,” Brown said adding that the goal was to find better ways of using parking space.

The ministry plans to take another look at this requirement, which has created the unintended consequence where there are more than 14,000 parking spaces in George Town but most drivers cannot find one. One solution could be to have private owners share lots and reuse some of the currently empty private parking lots.

Another major change needed to help with the initiative is to put an end to the minimum plot size for development of 20,000 square feet, which prevents smaller and different types of projects ever getting off the ground.

One huge and glaring omission that came to light during the discussions on long-term plans was the impact the cruise berthing project will have on the capital when, or if, the controversial development gets underway. The panel entirely ignored the issue until a member of the audience asked the question.

The minister remained completely mum and the panel skirting around the issue, with the George Town manager, Colin Lumsden, implying it was being regarded as a separate issue. Hydes said that, regardless of when the cruise project gets underway, the revitalization of George Town would happen anyway.

He said it would be an “added bonus”, but did not explain how that would be the case, given the large number of unanswered questions about this proposed facility, including how the construction period will impact the capital.

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Comments (49)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The LPH needs to be finished to connect to Walkers road! It was stopped because of some rare orchids of something like it. If we can transplant coral for a dock why can’t these orchids be moved to Botanic park?

    • Anonymous says:

      Orchids? I never heard that. Wow. I have heard the whole MLA family horsey stable thing is holding it up. Which is weird cause there is plenty of space to make it happen and finish this mess.

  2. Anonymous says:

    forget gt….its camana bay all the way for me…….thank you ken.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Unless they start purchasing back land and buildings in the area and demolishing things George Town revitalization will never happen

    They built the inner area of GT in the places where dirt roads existed where people set up building back when walking and bicycles were fine modes of transportation
    There is no parking, no real amount of space, no open areas for trees and shrubberies

    The people who built up George town never expected the population explosion that we had

    The government needs to take serious steps in order to revamp the capital even if that means using eminent domain in the form of compulsory purchases

  4. Pear says:

    And why did they cut the trees down in the Government parking lot???

    • Anon says:

      A prominent politician on site claimed they were diseased, I was there when they were cut down and there was absolutely no sign of disease in the trees, I checked very carefully. Car park space was paramount, and so far, still is.

  5. Anonymous says:

    What happened to that “grand plan” of some years back to have retired civil servants Kearney Gomez, Carson Ebanks and Kenneth Ebanks draw up plans for the beautification of George Town. Many said it would never happen because they didn’t deliver when they were in Government, could that be true? Gomez apparently works for Dart so he seems to have seen the light.

  6. Anonymous says:

    If they put in all the zebra crossings that they currently have marked on the roads they might as well call the whole of downtown a parking lot, because nothing is going to be moving!

    • Anonymous says:

      Eh I disagree.

    • Anonymous says:

      The junction with Mary Street and North Church Street is going to be ridiculous. And that’s before the delivery drivers park across the crossings. Seriously 2 crossings on the same stretch of road within one truck length of each other?

  7. Anonymous says:

    14,000 parking spaces in GT. What planet are they on?! And they’re probably including Kirk Market parking as being central GT for instance……

  8. Anonymous says:

    Just drove into town from West Bay and they seem to be marking the road for zebra crossings everywhere. Yes, I agree we need some but not every few feet. That will really slow traffic down and unless they are marked as crossings most tourists don’t know what they are!

  9. Anonymous says:

    school traffic…. hhmmm…. WHY CAN’T WE HAVE SCHOOL BUSES TAKE OUR KIDS TO SCHOOL??? This would eliminate so much of the traffic all over, it’s so simple! Think about how much LESS traffic there is when our kids don’t have school? It’s not rocket science, this would help the congestion for sure! And the empty parking lots that are privately owned… why not work something out where you pay for a spot (if you work in town and have to search every day, I’m sure you’d be willing to pay a monthly garage spot fee)! They do this in NYC, and tons of other places, why can’t anyone think out of the box around here??

  10. Anonymous says:

    Can they stop adding crosswalks? Its starting to get out of hand a bit.

  11. Anonymous says:

    With the truthful, energetic, go-getter attitude of Colin and Tristan we are in good hands!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Can we connect North Church Street / Eastern Avenue to the new roundabout south of the International School on the bypass? There’s a strip of raw land alongside Dog City that leads straight there. It would reduce traffic on the AL Thompson roundabout and on West Bay Road

  13. Anonymous says:

    The George Town revitalization is going at about the same speed as the dump cleanup. If only talk got things done. Give both to Dart.

    • Anonymous says:

      Do not worry as the Dart/CHEC partnership will get all these problems resolved and at a tremendous cost savings. On top of that is that the material supply chain will be shook.up by CHEC bringing in better grade and lower cost materials. Thank uou Unity team!

      • Anonymous says:

        The people of the Cayman Islands should be extremely grateful that Mr. Dart came here and is developing such great projects. He is a true visionary and by the wonderful developments he has done it then attracted other wealthy investor/developers just like the Honorable Bush said would happen. We need to all get behind our Unity government and throw our support for their plans and partnership with the Dart group. By bringing in CHEC they will get us way better prices on building and materials, freeing us from all the high local costs that now affect us all. For one I believe we should ask Mr. Dart to take us independent and under his guidance. We will be so better off for it in the long run.

  14. Dreaming of a better Town says:

    Why not pay Dart to architect G.T. and divide it into zones like for shopping, for businesses, for government buildings, for recreation, for parking, et cetera …. and then enforce all landowners and businesses to comply with the zoning.

    We don’t need more roads in town. All we need are a few large parking lots, and greenery footpaths like they have at Camana Bay!

    We also need to plant more trees!

  15. Anonymous says:

    cns: please run a story on the east-west highway extension…..the madness of building more roads must end

  16. Anonymous says:

    And what about the glass house. I spoke to someone who put in a tender for the demolition 3 years ago since he has heard sweet f√{k all.
    Typical CIG useless

  17. Anonymous says:

    CNS can you please enlighten us as to why the very expensive 2 lane highway into town bottle necks into 1 lane when it reaches a horse ranch owned by an MLA and/or his family.?

    • Anonymous says:

      Because the NRA can’t figure out that all they need is a strip of the undeveloped raw land on the other side of the street. For some reason once they randomly gazette a route it can never be adjusted. There is no reason to ruin the horse stable when there is nothing but brush on the other side.

      • Anonymous says:

        I think most people would agree with that. If the ranch can stay, why shouldn’t it? It’s a convenient central location especially for an activity popular with children at nearby schools. It shouldn’t matter who owns it. If the government said it was going to purchase and destroy the ranch to build the road I would be against it. Buy a strip on the other side, build the other half of the road there.

  18. Alejandro says:

    This is going to happen, one way or the other. GT voters are way too important. I do reckon it will happen for the wrong reasons but the en result will be better than what we have. GT is an “Im going to work zone” but dead after office hours, but, it has beach space (small but it does) restaurants, bars and clubs and most definitely most of the shops ( not that prices are appealing) why in the name of god any other place on the island gets busy but GT on weekends? i know why, is because….. I am not on the computer honey, i am coming….

  19. Ozzy says:

    The road to nowhere leads to me.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Well I have a suggestion the first fifty story building should be a parking garage. How about the site of the old tower building. Nothing will happen in G T without good parking.

    • Anonymous says:

      Give me a reason to walk around GT and I will happily park farther from the places I plan to go. Leave it as is without so much as the Heroes Square fountain on and I will continue looking for a space up the ass of the business I’m going into so I never have to look at the ugly buildings, tacky stores, cruise sheep and wasted potential.

      • Anonymous says:

        Fountain miraculously got filled with water this week. Wonder why?

        • Anonymous says:

          It’s only good enough for ceremonies and royalty apparently. How sad that 16 years ago we decided to build ourselves a modest fountain, and for no apparent reason (even though it works!), it is left off. Why is it off?

          Watch as well to see if they turn the lights on in front of the Government Admin building signs. They actually managed to remember the lights in the design but don’t use them. Why is an unknowable mystery.

        • Anonymous says:

          can you spell, “Prince Charles”?

    • Anonymous says:

      cars and parking are not he solution to anything on this island

    • Anonymous says:

      Nothing will happen in GT without good reason to go there. I can’t think of any.

  21. Anonymous says:

    good planning joey….got to have the roads 1st before development…so build it and they shall come lol…dont forget we are going to need lots of parking !!!! for all the new/current developments so lets do it right one time and be dome with it….good luck Gov

  22. Say it like it is. says:

    Whatever happens our politicians must not be allowed to pedestrianize any of the key arterial routes in central George Town i.e. North and South Church Streets, Harbour Drive, Shedden Rd,. Fort St, Edward St, Mary St.Albert Panton St, Boilers, and Goring Ave.
    We have heard nothing from the NRA about increased traffic, but with 50% more vehicles on the road than we had 15 years ago our roads have reached saturation point and closing roads in central George Town as we have seen already on a temporary basis, causes gridlock and chaos.
    One thing we certainly do need are more trees and landscaping to alleviate our present concrete jungle – I suggest someone takes a look at what Singapore has done in this regard.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ah yes. Don’t provide amenity for pedestrians because there is too much traffic. Wonderful logic.

      • Say it like it is says:

        10.07pm You must be one of these weirdos who walk in the middle of the road and don’t notice all the sidewalks and pedestrian crossings which are on every road in central G.T.

      • Anonymous says:

        You don’t see all those pedestrian crossings sketched out? One every 25 feet by the looks of it, good luck in that traffic.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh dear! You are against pedestrianising George Town because of gridlock and chaos. If it is pedestrianise the only gridlock would be people walking.

  23. Anonymous says:

    more soon come nonsense…there is nobody in the civil service with the expertise to handle this…

    • Anonymous says:

      Sadly, the persons appointed to handle this are just that, civil servants without any qualifications to deal with the task.

    • Terry McDermott says:

      I lived in Cayman 30 years ago. In reading these posts I cannot help but observe that no matter how much time passes, not much changes with the possible exception that the once pristine island is now overrun with tourists and developers. The lure of tourist, cruise sheep and developers money is just too strong a temptation for the governing body. Sad.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Prediction: This project will go on until the end of time and nothing will get done, except that fat cats will get fatter.

    • Anonymous says:

      That us because yiu allow that to happen

      • Anonymous says:

        And to think when the elected member for George town central was getting some mess clean up they stopped him ,the very own George town central committee members ,,,,,,politics,,what a mess ,that’s what the monkey said, my people .

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