Smith Cove revamp stirs up trouble

| 20/01/2020 | 160 Comments
Cayman News Service
The government’s planned Smith Cove revamp, artist’s rendition

(CNS): Plans to ‘enhance’ Smith Barcadere in South Sound is stoking backlash because people want the public beach left in its natural state. Government purchased more land in what is also known as the Smith Cove area in 2016 after it all came under threat from development and a public campaign was launched to save the much loved cove. Although local MLA Barbara Conolly promised residents that they would have input on any development at the site, government has now drawn up plans without consultation that go well beyond what the public appears to want.

The purchase of the land with around $5 million from the Environmental Protection Fund was warmly welcomed by the community as it is one of Grand Cayman’s few remaining beach beauty spots.

However, those spearheading the campaign to save it made it clear at a public meeting following the acquisition that they did not want government to develop the site or to allow commercial activity but to leave it as natural as possible. Enhancing Smith Cove, many said, was impossible as it was already beautiful and nature did not need any help.

Cayman News Service
Smith Cove is naturally beautiful

At that meeting Conolly said government would consult residents about any development. However, earlier this month the government issued a tender for general contractors to give a quote for a revamp project that includes an office, a car park on the sea side, walk ways, viewing decks, a retaining wall, Cabanas and what appears to be the clearing of the natural bush and trees, all of which is causing concern.

Morne Botes, one of those who spearheaded the campaign to ‘Save the Cove’, said that although there are aspects of the design that are welcome, some of it goes too far.

“I do wish MLA Barbara Conolly would have consulted with the public as she promised she would in person at the previous public meeting,” he told CNS after government posted the tender invitation and published the proposed designs.

“Smith Cove is near and dear to our hearts and the public would like an input into what is planned at the public beach. From this current plan, I do like the planned sidewalk and extra bathroom if it does not interfere with the current trees on site. We go to the beach to enjoy the sand under our feet, so spending money on walkways are not necessary. The public also made their feelings heard loud and clear at the last meeting: no cabanas,” he added.

Many people who are active in trying to protect the remaining beaches on Grand Cayman that have not been developed and that the public can still access used social media to advocate for the cove to remain as it is. They said government should do only the bare minimum to it as they believe its natural beauty cannot be enhanced. Some suggested that the plans made the cove look like an amusement park, while others said government should leave well alone.

The Public Works Department, which is overseeing the proposed project, has not yet stated how much it will cost, nor has Conolly or Infrastructure Minister Joey Hew said why government is opting for what appears to be a much more extravagant redevelopment than the people wanted.

Many social media commenters urged the government to spend whatever it has in its budget on other more pressing matters and leave the beach exactly as nature intended.

See the tender documents here

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Category: development, Local News

Comments (160)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    To whom it may concern,

    Pleas leave smith cove alone. That rendering is shite, All that is needed is better bathroom/ changing facilities and parking..

    Put a damn walk bridge from the beach to parking lot, DONE!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ms. Connolly, rather than turning Smiths Cove into an contrived attraction like something from Disney or Universal Studios you might want to consider a wiser use for our public money.

    Camp X-Ray or should I say the Spotts cruise terminal is in dire need of a complete overhaul, overpass and proper tour bus and taxi parking across the street. Although this might not get you extra votes in your constituency, it will definitely get you remembered for doing something that progresses our infrastructure in the right direction. This type of thing is a rarity these days.

  3. Anonymous says:


  4. Anonymous says:

    R.I.P Barbara, you would sell the whole country for a bag of peanuts.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I just looked at the site map. Future amphitheater, light poles, zillion platforms, access mat etc. and not a shred of “nature”. This is not an enhancement, this is a total destruction of natural state of the lot. Pure madness.

  6. Anonymous says:

    If you have money like that to burn (waste), please redirect it to your youth who desperately need skill-training in order to obtain viable employment. What a waste of finances.

  7. Anonymous says:

    …perhaps the idiots can go for a “two-fer” while they are at it and include Governors Beach – pave it with tarmac, put in a KFC/Burger King and a place to hire out tables/chairs and Seados…NOT!!! This is just soooooooo infuriating…..

    The scary thing is that this type of warped “thinking” (term used very loosely) is but the (obvious) tip of the iceberg for moronic (no offence to morons), ill-conceived, uneducated, fat and bloated public purse spending, by idiots……

    Next, they’ll want to just knock down that half finished school that cost 10 gazillion dollars (that they know of, ‘ cos the Auditor General stopped counting when the receipt trail petered out…) and start over again…but WAIT….that is exactly what is happening….!

    • Anonymous says:

      That is not what is happening. The buildings that were constructed on the site are all going to be incorporated into the new design. Read the article and look at the renderings, you can clearly see the 4 buildings that were previously constructed. There was a 5th building started and when construction halted in 2010 that building was not far along at all, and has had blocks and rebar exposed to the elements since then. That small bit needs to come down but the rest are being used.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Why so many comments addressed to Barbara? The land doesn’t belong to her. She does what she is told to do by those who have real power. The entire scheme from the purchase to the current development was orchestrated, but not by Barbara. She is just a cog in the wheel, functionally necessary but of small significance or importance within a larger operation.

    • Anonymous says:

      No excuse – it makes it even seem worse for her.

      You are implying that she is a mere mindless, zombie-esque pawn….I have no doubt that, as a human being, she has free will and capacity to “do the right thing”. What we need is for her is to do just that.

      “Do the right thing” Barbara! Leave well enough alone. Simple as.

      • Anonymous says:

        She does not have to be a blind follower. When you know better, you do better. Simple as that. For God’s sake, can’t these PPM koolaid drinking people think for themselves and listen to what their people are telling them? Stop the madness, Barbara, at least look like you hear us.

    • Anonymous says:

      She is the elected MLA in the district elected to serve the people not a select few.

      She is committing political suicide and will lose her seat in 2021 over her blind loyalty to a government that has been bought and paid for by special interests and the cruise lines.

    • Anonymous says:

      She is my representative in South Sound and she needs to stand up and be counted if it is in fact the government forcing her in to this.. I don’t know anyone from South Sound that agrees with this..

      She knew from the outset we didn’t want this and now she and this stupid unity government is trying to force it down our throats.

      If she can’t stand the heat she needs to get out of the fire..

  9. Cemetaries are next..... says:

    Just wait until the government starts giving developers permission to move all those graveyards on valuable beachfront properties around the island. It is only a matter of time before they do, as those beachfront lots are priceless!

  10. Anonymous says:

    I am confused. Was it purchased from EPF as this article says or from a private party as 2016 article says:
    “…….the premier gave credit to Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts for negotiating with the owners to sell. McLaughlin said that the landowner had been very cooperative about the situation..”

    Or 2 purchases took place?

    If it was purchased from EPF I am confused even more for the land was already protected what was the point on buying it.
    In either case Premier had said “…the land would be marked as a conservation area.”
    So if it was already protected and later marked as a conservation area, how in the world all enhancement/renovations came into the play?

  11. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know whats with some of these starve gutted politicians some of these hungry for back door deals that wants to turn beauty into ugly

  12. Elenor says:

    What utter craziness is this. Leave our stuff alone please. Joey Hew and Barbara just stop. Has to be someone in Joey Ministry come up with that drawing. Hope is not part of his downtown revitalization plans that almost 6 years overdue. They hired a manager nothing done just talk. Now they want Smith Cove enough is enough. Good bye good luck next election.

    • Anonymous says:

      They keep giving these wannabe draftsmen projects well beyond their abilities. Leave the Cove alone, natural beauty cannot be improved .

  13. Anonymous says:

    To put parking on the beach side is so blatantly moronic that the assumption must be someone has a vested financial interest in that happening.

    You would need to be a class A, grade one, premier league cretin to think that is a good idea.

  14. Anonymous says:

    So the land was purchased by the CI government to preserve Smith Cove in its natural state (allegedly). Then someone decided, or already had an eye on it before the purchase took place (remember how swiftly it was completed), that the lot needs not one, but two phases of enhancements. Suddenly, a need for a wall, more parking, an office!!🤔, cabanas, etc. has appeared. Cayman residents didn’t ask for it, so apparently all enhancements aka destructions of natural environment are for visitors. Makes perfect sense. Heavily veiled purchase transaction “to preserve Smith Cove” was in fact a strategic step toward developing it further to accommodate cruise ship visitors. Really sneaky.
    Once we know who would occupy the proposed office, we would know who is behind the shameless scheme.
    Cayman residents were taken for fools.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Who has asked for that? There got be someone who requested this kind of revamp. Who is behind this sneaky “enhancement”?

    • Anonymous says:

      2016 CNS

      “…….the premier gave credit to Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts for negotiating with the owners to sell. McLaughlin said that the landowner had been very cooperative about the situation and the public purse was getting value for money.

      ……. once in public hands, the land would be marked as a conservation area.

      Despite the hefty price tag, there is significant community support for government buying the property because public access to beach and waterfront areas has been dramatically curtailed by the continued and relentless oceanfront development along Seven Mile Beach and South Sound.”

      Definition of conservation area:
      an area of land that is protected and that cannot be built on or used for certain purposes.

  16. Anonymous says:

    who came up with that weird stuff that is on “artist’s rendition”.

  17. Crab Claw says:

    Some parts of it needs some fill, it is a pain climbing over stumps and rocks in some areas some better changing rooms and extra tables should be enough to keep it comfortable for one and all.

    • Anonymous says:

      We should not change what Mother Nature intended.

    • Anonymous says:

      If it is a pain climbing over stumps and rocks, then don’t do that. Chose activity you are fit for. This is not Disneyland.

      • Crab Claw says:

        Some of you all really are dumb, I’m more concerned about the children using the place, they are the ones getting hurt from the rocks the natural cliff rocks are fine with me that rubble pile on the side towards South Sound needs to be maintained in some form.

    • Anonymous says:

      No it doesn’t. Leave it alone !

  18. Anonymous says:

    Where have all the comments gone?

  19. Gray Matter says:

    AS IS WHERE IS. Leave it alone.

  20. Anonymous says:

    The purchase of the land out of the Environmental Protection Fund was a clear abuse from the start. And it had been repeated again and again. The intention of the EPF is to preserve habitat and wild species. Sadly Morne and his allies were duped into a bare-faced raid on the only money set aside for such purposes.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hey, National Trust, didn’t una support this because of some rare bush on the 2nd property? Will it still be there after this?

      • Anonymous says:

        My comment above was neither by nor on behalf of the Trust. But to answer your question, the Trichilia trees are already partly buried in the rubble of clearing that has been done. Your concern is valid.

        • Anonymous says:

          My comment was to the National Trust, as the suspicion that the CIG was using them to green-wash a raid on the EPF should now be stronger than ever. (Unless someone knows if the artist’s rendering unexpectedly appropriately incorporates the Trichilia in some way?)

    • Anonymous says:

      Still plenty of money in the EPF, which CIG is probably wasting on the new EIA for a cruise berth project that nobody wants.

      • Anonymous says:

        You miss the point, the EPF is the only money collected for and dedicated to conservation. Every other red cent in the billion dollar budget is there to provide services and amenities to the public. Add to that there was never any genuine intention to make that land a protected area.

        • Anonymous says:

          EPF is used for removal of used tires at the dump, the iguana cull, previous EIA for the proposed port, waste management studies, etc. It should be exclusively for the purchase of land for conservation.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Is nothing sacred on this island? Since when did everything become about making money?

    • Anonymous says:

      We have a generation of politicians who are on they way out and and going to try and line their pockets as much as possible before they go. So no as long as they are in power nothing is sacred. Don’t like it? get out here and protest, get out there and vote.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I can’t wait until the next generation take over. The ones who were brought up well and educated in foreign schools.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yep…with no moral compass. Find them online beating each other to death at the bars at 4am and sleeping on their jobs if they show up the next day. Great future indeed.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not going to happen, they all have nice jobs in the private sector, who would want to swap that to work with government.

  23. Driftwood voter says:

    We haven’t gone to the “public beach” ever since the entrepreneurs moved in with the beach chair rentals and anything else they can make a buck on with government’s blessing. Used to enjoy birthdays and beach barbecues – not anymore. We never take our guests to that beach. It’s a circus and not what we want them to remember of a visit to this island. Now the government wants to get their claws into Smith Cove. Yes, upgrade/repair the bathrooms and provide more garbage cans because you know people are too ignorant to take their garbage home with them – after all, they brought it to the beach for their enjoyment. No ice cream trucks,chair vendors, cheap t-shirts, and tacky souvenirs. Leave it as natural as possible. What’s so hard about that? All the money that it would require for this vision of a new and improved Smith Cove could be better spent on education, our hungry and homeless. The list goes on. You’re on notice government. There’s a referendum and then and election coming. Pack your bags. You’ve done a great disservice to the people of this island. It’s time for politicians to be paid on the basis of performance.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Someone had planned it from the start under pretense of saving Smith Cove.
    Such disrespect nd disregard for the residents.Such disconnect with nature.
    What is going to take to stop such madness? Whose “creative” and deviated minds involved in literally paving every sq.inch of what used to be beautiful island?

  25. Anonymous says:

    Just put in some decent showers, changing facilities and done. Cha!

  26. MERVYN CUMBER says:

    Government compulsorily purchased additional land at Spotts Public Beach for extra parking. Yesterday I saw a tour bus in the car park. Smith Cove now, Spotts next. What a Government planned disaster!

    • Anonymous says:

      If they want land for parking at the cove they can compulsorily purchase part of ALT’s yard!

  27. Anonymous says:

    I no longer taking my cruise ship passengers to 7 mile beach. They want free seating so I suggest more picnic benches. I am able to collect more money per passenger because they are asking to stop and pickup beer and fast food. It’s not going to effect local people because everyone is working during the day. They like the trees giving them free shade also. Another public beach Cruisers like is Spotts Cemetery just needed to be bigger and more sea grape trees, a public shower and rest room, transportation is cheaper also. Public transportation also is a lot cheaper $2.00 CI. We need a way for them to get liquor and food delivered to the public beaches. Maybe a free delivery service app? Excellent snorkeling area because it is shallow. We need more picnic benches. Bodden Town public beach needs sea grape trees and more picnic benches, rest rooms, liquor and food is already there.

    • Anonymous says:

      OMG don’t you see that you are part of the problem and that no one on the island wants this? We do not want drunk cruise shippers littering our beaches and beauty spots with their empty beer bottles and fast food litter. In fact, we don’t want them there at all. I think you have been blinded because all you see is money.

      • Concerned says:

        Check our little used beach areas after the Easter camping circus, the garbage is not left behind by cruise ship passengers.

        • Anonymous says:

          Both are problematic. Cruise shippers leave behind a lot of cigarette butts and plastic drink bottles. Imagine Smith’s Barcadere (Cove) crowded with cruise ship visitors. YUCK.

    • Anonymous says:

      Make Coe Wood Beach GREAT AGAIN!

  28. Anonymous says:

    This smith Cove development is the greatest example of how not to develop and deliver a community project.
    Not too late Barbara take and example from Ezzard in North Side practice participative democracy I see on instagram that he had a meeting with the fishermen who use the dock to discuss the design of the dock before he agreed with the Government’s plan.
    Invite Ezzard to come to South Sound Community center at a public meeting and show you how it is done

  29. Anonymous says:

    More money than brains. Why on earth does a beach need an office?

  30. Leave it alone. says:

    No,no,no. What is wrong with you Ms. Barbara. We don’t need sr want any changes @ Smith’s barcadere. Leave it alone or you certainly will go down in history as the one who messed up that beautiful beach.

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