CPA refuses land clearing for pickleball courts

| 08/04/2022 | 86 Comments
Pickleball players (from Pickleball Cayman Facebook page)

(CNS): An application by millionaire Jerry Beck to clear and fill a five-acre site in George Town was declined by the Central Planning Authority last week as the board said it was premature since there was no application to develop the land. But Beck is still hoping to get the nod for a sports complex dominated by pickleball courts, which has since been submitted to planning.

The site largely consists of semi-permanently flooded grassland dominated by bulrushes, an important and diminishing habitat type in Cayman.

According to an advertisement in the local print media, the application is for 12 pickleball courts, three tennis courts, cricket cages, a playground, an administration building and a bar and restaurant on the site, which is off Bobby Thompson Way and Smith Road across the street from the cricket pitch.

The Department of Environment had asked the CPA to hold off granting permission for clearance until the project plans were submitted, as the project could be many years away or may never happen.

The DoE said it does not support the speculative clearing of ecologically sensitive land in the absence of planning approval for development because it can sometimes be years before a project comes to fruition, if at all.

As a result, the DoE urges the CPA to hold off allowing any clearance of natural habitat until a development has been approved, otherwise important eco-systems can be lost for no reason.

In this case, the land currently provides habitat for birds and collects rainwater, preventing flooding, and it could continue doing that until such a time as a project is approved and underway.

On this occasion, according to the minutes posted on the planning website, the CPA agreed. It said that, since the application was just for clearance, it was “premature to allow the clearing/filling of the land in the absence of an approval for an application for the primary development of the site”.

The new board has been taking a mixed approach to allowing land clearance where there is no planning permission. It did allow the planning minister’s father to speculatively clear land in North Side shortly after its appointment but it has turned down a number of other clearing applications, citing the DoE concerns about speculative clearing before planning permission is granted.

The stay of destruction of this land and the Typha domingensis bullrushes will be short-lived, however, as Beck is still hoping to get this project on the fast track. He told planning that there is a huge demand for the sport and nowhere to play, so he has leased this piece of land and was hoping to have the first courts open and ready for use by the beginning of the next school year.

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Category: development, Local News, Sports

Comments (86)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Pickleball is for aging Boomers with bad knees. Who can’t handle tennis squash or paddleball.

    • Anonymous says:

      Can’t argue with you there, but it sure is fun! Glad to play a sport that will be able to stick with me for the next 50 years!

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you somehow feel better about yourself putting down a sport that gets elderly people to be active?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Facts CNS forgot:

    CNS: Points 1 and 2 are just reworded versions of what is included in the article. Point 3 is still missing the point that speculative land clearing is not a good thing and the DoE is trying to discourage it as a matter of practice. Your points are pointless.

    1) the applicant already has an application in for the intended development but until its received all government agency comments and no objections from 21 day notice period, its technically SPECULATIVE.
    2) the Board didnt see why the applicant couldnt wait a mere matter of weeks for the development application to be approved versus prematurely allowing the land to be cleared.
    3) the aerial shot of the Ministers fathers land that DoE and CNS continue to refer to was years old and showed many acres around the subject parcel that have now been cleared and developed for years. The parcel being used to gaslight the public was the last little bit of uncleared land in that area.

    All information clearly stated in CPA meetings where public is free to attend and listen.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Cayman must have proper regulation pickleball courts and a strong youth program or we will never be able to compete in the sport internationally.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Wtf is pickleball?

    • Anonymous says:

      Another fad sport that’ll be gone and forgotten in five years?

    • Anonymous says:

      And who cares

    • Anonymous says:

      Yuppie tennis.

    • Anonymous says:

      For those that don’t have the co-ordination for table tennis or the stamina for real tennis, pretty much tennis for inadequates.

      • Inadequate non-tennis player says:

        Or how about a sport that’s easily accessible and doesn’t require years of practice to be decent at? A sport that gets all ages (yes, boomers and geriatrics) to get some exercise and movement into their day while having fun. Yeah, let’s naysay that, sounds terrible.

        • Anonymous says:

          Do you know what my friend? You are absolutely right. That was a genuinely stupid post by myself. I apologise.

          Wendy/Nick. Please delete my post. It was a dumbass thing to say.

          CNS: Yes, it was stupid. However, I cannot delete your post without also deleting the excellent response and your apology. So, I’m going to leave it in case anyone else has similar thoughts.

  5. Little Cayman Shadow Minister says:

    Development is good isn’t it?

    We get roads and an increased population but have you been a Caymanian sitting somewhere and everyone around is not Caymanian?

    Or spotting someone you know becomes difficult?

    Or when people who buy massive amounts of land try to steal land/beach or tell us to get off of their beaches?

    Or when foreign people tell us that things will be great with foreign investment, more jobs for the “lazy” Caymanians that went off to school worked hard to come back to find that the new jobs were advertised overseas and the foreghn HR highered their own foreign friends. So when we hear about pickle ball courts…. well just another piece of the puzzle sits in place. When the hurricane hits guess who usually runs back home? Guess who stays here? Only the people that truly loved the island and only the people who were born here.

    • Anonymous says:

      I sort of understand the sentiment. Even as an expat who had lived here for 16 years I sometimes look around and have thoughts like: Where did all these people come from, who is going to live in all these condos, why can’t i see the beach anymore etc etc. I cant imagine how someone who has lived here all their lives must feel.

      I think its a bit misplaced on this comment though. This isnt a private development, it will be available for all to use, Caymanians and expats. And as much as I feel like there is overdevelopment in some sense and too many people moving here, I welcome more facilities that provide people more stuff to do.

      I just think a lot of people dont know what pickleball is and assume its bad but I’ve played and its fun. Like tennis but easier. Can be intense but doubles is also really good for seniors.

    • Anonymous says:

      We’re now deep in the danger zone of >400 ppm of atmospheric CO2 where we’ll stay for centuries.

      Expect 1.5°C to 2°C global warming in the 2030s, the end of coastal cities & agriculture as we know it, and the mass extinction of 75% of species.

      Degrowth may limit the damage.

  6. A.J. says:

    Pickleball courts ? Nobody makes money on a project like that. What a load of BS that is. Ulterior motive is something else.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Wow, this is what Cayman has really come to? The owner of the land splits his property in half and gives the public a much needed road access through his property and government then decides to take additional land to make it 6-8 lanes….for the benefit of the public. Then the government do not want to approve a project to allow a public sports park on a portion of the remaining land and then the public who are happily driving on the road want to complain against the public sports park as well. Makes perfect sense in today’s society as everyone’s opinion is supposed to count, right? There is truly zero thankfulness for any kind heartedness these days.

  8. Anonymous says:

    All the people living in all the new developments need recreational facilities. Increase population, increase need for these facilities

  9. Anonymous says:

    Why is it CNS describes him as “millionaire Jerry Beck”? Thousands of people on this island, especially many of the politicians, are millionaires but don’t get described as such. It’s as if CNS are trying to make this sound like it’s all about money when it isn’t at all.

    I know Jerry and I know quite a bit about this project. It’s going to be an amazing facility for the general public and it’s going to be very respectful of the environment. Note that DoE haven’t objected to the development – they just objected to the clearing of land in advance of the development getting approved which is fair enough given the history of failed developments on this island. Roughly 10% of the land parcel will be covered with asphalt and about 0.1% with concrete. The rest will either be landscaped or left pristine.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Pickleball?? Is this some kind of joke? Surely not a real sport?

  11. Anonymous says:

    I often see the NRA water tankers drawing from the ponds on this land. Wonder what DOE thinks about that practice?

  12. Anonymous says:

    I’d rather see the occasional foggy mist that hangs above the bulrushes on still cool winter mornings – 🌾😶‍🌫️

  13. Anonymous says:

    Why not place it in the quarry in Pedro?

    • Anonymous says:

      Because the quarry at Pedro is going to be a new club called The Bunker.

      Its where all the Lillie’s, Vic’s and Banana’s crews will go now after the bars to settle their differences.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Why would he lease the land then speculatively clear and fill it while slowly letting his lease run down? That makes no sense. Clearly this isn’t speculative.

    • Anonymous says:

      You no money cry babies make me sick. Here is a good person who wants to do something nice for Cayman but all you hear is the whinging of a bunch of wanna-bees. Just go in a corner and have a good cry!

      • Anonymous says:

        2:03 – how the hell is any destruction ‘nice for Cayman ? It might be nice for a select few who aspire to become world Pickle Champions, but how is it nice for Cayman as a land, as a piece of an evolving global ecosystem that’s been in place and been perfectly fine for the last 4.5 billion years. The simple answer is it’s not, continued destruction to appease a few always chasing something to make them happy and never able to find true happiness in what they’ve got.

        The blunt reality is we’re pretty much creating the same equation with our destruction of the planet as nuclear war (less the radiation and other harmful affects) but the end result the same, devastation of our biosphere and the other multiple spheres that coexist with it just in different time frames. Whats that, you don’t like the idea of nuclear war, why not? does your selfish desire to live longer through pickle sponsorship prohibit you from accepting that demise, the very early destruction of the planet of you and fellow enthusiasts along with it ? Do you know what, I am crying, I cry every day because I wanna-bee continually blown away by the miraculous true nature of all that exists and permit the generations that come to be able to do the same. What I don’t wanna-bee doing is listening to whingers like you that feel compelled to destruct and change everything for your own short term pleasure. 🌎

    • Anonymous says:

      2:28 pm It’s speculative until he actually has permission for the development.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Maybe lease the WB high school (yeah remember that farce?) lot from Gov’t and put the courts there. Already cleared, lots of fill and other sporting/recreation facilities in immediate proximity

  16. Anonymous says:

    Well done. I am tired of this over development of our once peaceful, pristine Islands.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s land next to an airport with nothing remarkable of it. Hardly pristine nature with a variety of flora and fauna.

      It’s not even NIMBYism because it’s basically no-one’s backyard.

      How is it fair to anyone, Caymanian or otherwise to be prevented from developing property based on some generalised anti-development stance.

      I guess it was ok for you to have a house on what was otherwise “pristine” land but not for someone else!

    • Anonymous says:

      I would generally agree with that comment except that in reality CPA approves any destruction of habitat for big condo projects that will be in gated communities and not accessible to anyone while suddenly caring about the environment when someone wants to put in sports facilities and playground that are accessible to anyone.

  17. Anonymous says:

    why all this bulls%$# when old Dart gets whatever he wants? This man is trying to help Cayman and all you want to do is complain.

    • Anonymous says:

      Trying to help Cayman? You clear the site and get rid of all the fauna and flora. Then after a while you announce that the sports centre idea isn’t going to fly, but can you have permission to build a shopping centre or housing because there is no environmental issues ( because you already ripped out all the habitat).

      • Johnny the Wad says:

        Just an FYI 1:13 , Due to the proximity of the airport and height restrictions on any development in this area. I can say with 100% certainty that Mr. Beck (I’ve never met him) has no plans other than creating an area to play pickle ball (never heard of it) so there will be no shopping center there or housing there….ever. Let the man pickle.

    • Anonymous says:

      11:42 am “This man” doesn’t know what he’s doing. Doubt this project will ever see the light of day. Would be a shame to clear the land for no reason.

      • Anonymous says:

        Why wouldn’t it see the light of day. There is a massive demand for Pickleball courts

        • Anonymous says:

          Yeah, massive outrage on social media about the lack of pickleball courts. Constant point of conversation around the watercooler. Pickleball courts being added to every condo development. Massive demand my a$$.

          • Anonymous says:

            Fastest growing sport in America.

            Just because you haven’t heard of it doesn’t mean it’s not popular.

        • Anonymous says:

          What the hell is pickleball. If there was a ‘massive demand’ for places to play it I wouldn’t have to ask what it is. So there isn’t.

          • Anonymous says:

            It’s a rather fast paced sport. The ball moves at blinding speed , players move quick-quick. The ball and player velocity combined make it a huge spectator draw , very exciting . I suspect the reason a bar and social magnet at the location extends beyond just the game itself.

          • Anonymous says:

            It’s gotten VERY big in the US quite recently, especially in wealthy retirement areas/developments.

          • Anonymous says:

            If only you were smart enough to a little google research to find out what it was and to see if it is in fact popular rather than post on here and anonymously declare yourself the arbiter of what is and isn’t popular.

        • Anonymous says:

          Just like there is a massive demand for a 50m pool…

        • Really ???? says:

          Lol, really ???

        • Anonymous says:

          2:07 pm It won’t see the light of day because the “developer” has no clue what he’s doing.

      • Anonymous says:

        Can you elaborate on this? What other projects in Cayman has he been involved in?

        • Anonymous says:

          Well, he built that monstrosity mansion in South Sound that intrudes into the road set backs. And I believe he had some involvement in the Treasure Island disaster – he was the guy that sued HHG for an unpaid $2m debt and brought the whole thing crashing down, so presumably he was one of the funders.

        • Anonymous says:

          Built as huge mansion in South Sound!

      • Anonymous says:

        The stated business reason is for the adjacent spectator bar tabs. The socialite bar-friendly EZ-GO golf cart crowd that like their drink holders do like their drinks. The rosé Karens get pickled, then collect their kids from Prep, or the Riding School, then back out on our roads in their SUVs cranking the tunes to see what their helper has made for dinner.

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s essentially already cleared.

  18. Pohan says:

    Thank you DOE a key entity in our world class civil service. We are truly blessed to have DOE and the Service.

    Hats off to the CPA. You did good.

    • anon against ignorance says:

      11.26am How about Caymanian style, clear it first, then have it authorised after the event using the scratch your back system.

      • GT East says:

        Look at how much pristine natural habitat gets cleared for car parking check next to CNB just so they can get as close as they can to the building to be honest it’s just about to late to reverse the impact

      • Anonymous says:

        Like he did with his backyard.

  19. Anonymous says:

    jez…throw in a couple of 5-aside astro soccer pitches…it will make you a fortune(although i know its not about the $$$ for you). thank you very much.

    • Anonymous says:

      You mean football right?

      • Anonymous says:

        History will show you that football was originally known as soccer in the UK where it was invented.

        • Hancock says:

          That is why we have the Cayman Islands Football Association. It was known as soccer in China. Who cares a frick.

      • Anonymous says:

        If you can say paracetamol instead of acetaminophen half a billion of us can call it soccer.

        FWIW Soccer as a term refers to Association Football and is British in origin.

  20. Anonymous says:

    one mans low-lying swamp…..another mans precious wetlands with bulrushes…..zzzzzzzzzzzzz
    where does it all end??
    is any development good?

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