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(CNS Business): The recent legal injunction won by local boat operators does not prevent the developer from continuing work at the Safehaven docks, the Port Authority has stated. As the dispute over the new marina and the interim site moves into the local courts, work is continuing on the proposed plans at other areas of the location. Officials said this does not interfere with the vessels belonging to the captains who brought the successful legal action last week that won them a reprieve from eviction. The case will be returning before next month when the full details of the dispute over the redevelopment will be heard and decided.
In the meantime, the authority said the injunction does not prevent all work at the location from carry on. “The Court Order allows several boat operators access to their vessels at the docks on the marina site, and limits construction work affecting that access,” an official statement released Tuesday said. “The Court Order does not prevent the continuation of the construction works at the other areas of the marina site during this period, provided such works do not interfere with access to the vessels involved.”
The arguments between the three parties involved – the Port Authority, the developer Dragon Bay owned by Michael Ryan and the captains – involve a number of issues over the long standing plans.
The operators are concerned that both the temporary site which they were asked to use during the redevelopment and the new marina will be insufficient for their needs as the turning areas are too small for some of the vessels. In addition, ownership of the land where the captains are being evicted from has been in dispute for some time. This issue was further complicated by the recent loss by Ryan of one of the companies involved in a land swap with government. This was part of an agreement for the company owned by Ryan to develop a new marina in exchange for the Safehaven land, which he wanted for his Dragon Bay development and for access to the fill on the land.
The boat operators are also concerned that, squeezed as they are between the Ritz Carlton and land understood to be owned by Dart, the islands’ largest developer and investor, they have no future guarantees of continued access to the new location if it is ever finished.
As watersports operators serving mostly cruise passengers, the captains say their livelihoods as well as access to Stingray city for daily visitors are at risk if the marina is not completed or they are ultimately evicted from it or if the site is not in the end fit for purpose.
The captains eventually resorted to legal action when the port and the developer closed up access to the site and gave the group of seven boat owners that refused to move to the temporary site an ultimatum to get out or lose their property.
Last week Justice Williams ordered the stay after he was persuaded of evidence that the captains would not be able to operate from the new site. Since some of the captains have used the Safehaven marina for 25 years, he also found that there were genuine issues that should be tried.
Independent MLA Ezzard Miller, who has been supporting and assisting the captains in their goal to protect their rights to access to a suitable public marina, said it was an important decision.
“It proves when Caymanians are willing to go to court to protect their rights from the might of politicians, the draconian unilateral decisions of government authorities and greedy developers, the courts will exercise proper jurisdiction on their behalf. This should inspire others to action particularly through the courts for their rights and not simply take what is decided for them and walk away,” he added.
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