Gloomy Outlook for Barker’s Proposal

Article Snapshot

  • The request to obtain a costal works license submitted by Handel Whittaker, owner of Calico Jack’s on Seven Mile Beach, has been deemed “not acceptable” by Tara Rivers, representative for West Bay South.
  • The proposal requires the removal of 180,000 square feet of turtle grass from an undeveloped beach in Barkers, as well as the construction of a sizeable dock.
  • Whittaker intends to relocate Calico Jack’s to Barkers, as Dart is evicting Calico’s next year. Dart also owns the land in Barkers.
  • Rivers addressed the issue in a Facebook post, stating that the Cabinet has not considered nor approved the application.
  • The DoE has reviewed the application, recommending that the government reject the project.
  • Rivers stated that the government has suggested that the landowner, Dart, and the the applicant, Whittaker, meet with the DoE to discuss problematic areas of the proposal.
  • Whittaker stated that if the dock and the removal of seagrass and is not approved, he may be forced to close the doors of Calico Jack’s – for good.

Whittaker Faces Strong Opposition

The future of Calico Jack’s remains in limbo following the DoE’s unfavorable review of the Barker’s proposal last month. The proposal requires the removal of 180,000 square feet of turtle grass from an undeveloped beach in Barkers. Handel Whittaker, owner of Calico Jack’s, intends to relocate Calico Jack’s to the property as Dart will not be renewing Calico’s lease for its location of over 15 years in 2020. Dart also owns the Barker’s property.

The request to obtain a costal works license submitted by Whittaker has been deemed “not acceptable” by Tara Rivers, representative for West Bay South. Rivers addressed the issue in a Facebook post, stating that “Contrary to claims made by reckless reporting, which have been compounded by spurious statements made recently on the radio airwaves, the Cabinet has not considered nor approved the application.”

Misled by the Minister

Although it is altogether unclear as to what type of “reckless reporting” Rivers is referring to, one cannot help wonder if the conflicting statements made by Tourism Minister Moses Kirkonnell have played a role in the confusion surrounding the status of the Barker’s proposal. In an interview on Radio Cayman’s For the Record, Kirkonnell stated that Whittaker’s application was a good example of people wanting to “develop in the right way.” He also noted that Whittaker was searching for options that would “allow him to be successful and allow a balance for the environment.”

Room for Negotiation

Although the DoE has confirmed that no alternative proposals have been discussed, it has been suggested by the government that the landowner, Dart, and the applicant, Whittaker, meet with the DoE to discuss problematic areas of the proposal. It is likely that the DoE will be interested in finding a solution that is less detrimental to native flora and fauna.

Whittaker stated that if the dock and the removal of seagrass and is not approved, he may be forced to close the doors of Calico Jack’s – for good.