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Road plans spark controversy in Northside & Bodden Town

Frequently contentious and outspoken North Side politician Ezzard Miller sharply defended plans recently for three new roads in the North Side district.

He accused the National Conservation Council of being, quote, “out of touch” because they requested an EIA (environmental impact assessment) before the road plans move forward. These assessments are oftentimes crucial before undertaking projects that may negatively affect native flora and fauna and are considered by many to effectually be “standard operating procedure”.

The grandiloquent Miller issued a personal statement to the Legislative Assembly stating that the proposed thoroughfares were the product of ten years of discussion with area landowners, homeowners and farmers. The would-be roads would connect the Rum Point area to Bodden Town and cut down travel time between the two districts. Miller claims that his request to the Cabinet for the farm roads to be interlinked was reinforced by a signed petition from upwards of seventy local landowners and that they knew the area where it was to be built better than anyone working at the Department of Environment or the National Conservation Council. It could be argued that his statement was true but that, nevertheless, professionals must assess the impact of the construction on an objective and scientific scale.

Miller, however, saw things a bit differently and brought high emotion to his address. In his diatribe he stated that, “This preposterous, idiosyncratic and idiopathic proposal by the DoE and the unjustified, unrealistic and irrational acceptance by the National Conservation Council of such a proposal…need EIAs before gazettal is beyond belief and any form of rational thinking.”

The National Conservation Council reviewed the North Side – Bodden Town road connection proposals recently and identified several concerns. Namely, that the roads in question were not actually part of any strategic national roads plan. The project seemed, at first glance, to be an arbitrary selection of a road corridor without any strategic assessment. They concluded that this was not a thoroughfare that the Department of Environment could initially support. It issued its opinion on the proposal for the roughly four mile long stretch of highway through the Central Mangrove Wetlands as not objectively evaluated. Moreover, they contend that hugeswaths of unspoiledhabitat will be negatively affected with the proposed route of the roads. The Central Mangrove Wetlands are identified in their documents as the “ecological heart” of Grand Cayman.

Mr. Miller, usually high-flown in his rhetoric, described the wetland habitat as a, quote, “swamp.” His contention is that there are some minor reasons to be concerned by the highway going through the “swamp” but that this area is the samecomposition as the areasfilled to develop the Seven Mile Beach corridor. Pressing further, the East End legislator posited a theory that the issuance of the assessments was a socio-economic issue. Saying that the Prospect area and further out was “poor people land” and that when you get there“swamps becomes wetlands”.

The road construction remains in a suspended state at this time but one thing is for sure, the waves that Mr. Miller has made are anything but static.

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