(MENAFN - Caribbean News Now) Beach Bay development, artists rendition
GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands (CNS) – The residents of Beach Bay say they have lost all confidence in the developer proposing to build a huge resort in the heart of their community after he snubbed their invitation to a meeting in favour of a tête-à-tête with Cabinet ministers.
Around 40 people showed up at the Savannah Primary School hall last Tuesday for a pre-arranged meeting with Ryan Melkonian, one of the investors who had agreed to address their questions and concerns, but Melkonian was a no-show for the second time. The angry residents learned as they waited for him to show up that he was hosting a small private meeting for tourism minister Moses Kirkconnell, planning minister Joey Hew, and health minister Dwayne Seymour.
Melkonian is the founder and managing partner of Melkonian Capital Management in New York. His firm is said to have acquired almost 70 acres of land around Beach Bay and St James Point in Bodden Town under the company name Beach Bay Lands Ltd. The group of investors have already been promised around $25 million in concessions and had roads redirected.
They have had the area re-zoned, paving the way for a ten-story resort, which residents fear is of such a magnitude that it will impact their quiet residential neighbourhood forever. The investors have also secured a commitment from the Mandarin Oriental to manage the hotel once it is built.
Concerned about the near-industrial scale project, which includes two sewage treatment plants, commercial buildings, staff residences and acres of car parking space, as well as a hotel block and condos, residents believe what was once proposed as a boutique-style small hotel has ballooned out of proportion. Furthermore, they feel they are being kept in the dark about the proposals, as the developer keeps dodging the residents and their requests for a meeting.
Following the developer's failure to show up at a meeting last month, where close to 100 residents had turned up to hear from him, a second meeting was organised with the assistance of the constituency's MLA Chris Saunders. Melkonian had originally offered to host a small number of residents at a house he is believed to own in Beach Bay. But the residents told CNS that they rejected that idea because they believed it was inappropriate and instead organised and confirmed a meeting with him at the school hall in Savannah. Ryan Melkonian
But Melkonian appears to have proceeded with his idea of a small presentation in the private home and invited just a handful of selected individuals living in the area.
However, it is understood that none of the invited residents showed up and Melkonian remained at the house with the three ministers. Meanwhile, as the residents waited for almost one hour at Savannah Primary for him to show up there, they became increasingly angry.
They said it was 'utterly disrespectful' and an 'insult to our entire community'. However, since being snubbed, the residents told CNS that they are now focused on organising a full campaign against the project, following dozens of objections that they believe have been filed with the planning department.
While the law only allows people living in a limited range of the project to file objections for consideration during the Central Planning Authority's deliberations, the residents suggest that the scale and magnitude of this proposal is such that, if it went ahead, it would have a massive impact on people for beyond the 300 feet of the boundaries of the proposed project.
Saunders was unable to attend the meeting as he was overseas but Alva Suckoo, the representative for the neighbouring constituency of Newlands, said that, given the concerns the residents have, the developer really does need to host a proper public meeting.
While many residents are very concerned about the proposals, there are some who are also skeptical that it will ever go ahead and somewhat suspicious of the real motivations. Some said they believe the New York-based investors are merely prospecting and seeking to get as much as possible in terms of planning permission and concessions to enable them to flip the land they have purchased for a fat profit.
Regardless of the artist's impression of the project, in reality, there is limited beachfront, and the scale of the project seems way beyond what could be financially viable in the area. But whatever happens at the site, the residents told CNS that they are angry and frustrated with the investor's constant ducking of meetings and his apparent refusal to set out the details of the project and answer the community's questions.
The project has been submitted to planning but, so far, no date has been set for the CPA to consider the application.
Republished with permission of Cayman News Service