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Wilchcombe: Lighthouse Point Must Be Preserved

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Former Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe.

By MORGAN ADDERLEY

Tribune Staff Reporter

madderley@tribunemedia.net

FORMER Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe yesterday called for Lighthouse Point to be protected from cruise ship development and "preserved" for the people of The Bahamas.

Describing the 700-acre peninsula located at the southern tip of Eleuthera as "the most beautiful place in The Bahamas," Mr Wilchcombe said the government should take ownership of the property and put it in the hands of Bahamians.

He added he supports the position of the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) and organisations such as the One Eleuthera Foundation that Lighthouse Point should be designated a protected area.

Hank Johnson, member of parliament for Central and South Eleuthera, told The Tribune he has taken a neutral position on the matter until a decision is made.

Disney Cruise Line is said to be the group behind the potential acquisition and development of the area.

Mr Wilchcombe told The Tribune while the Bahamas has had a "tremendous relationship" with cruise lines over the years - and they have proven to be "good partners" - development of Lighthouse Point "should not be on the table".

"It ought to be allowed to be preserved for the people of The Bahamas and the people of Eleuthera," he said.

"It's one of the most beautiful spots. And I don't think that it ought to be involved in any destination, insofar as an investment of any company, I don't think so."

Mr Wilchcombe added he is aware of the efforts of the BNT and One Eleuthera to turn Lighthouse Point into a protected area and said he supports their efforts. He also said the government should give credence to the people of Eleuthera and its local government.

"The people of Eleuthera should have the final say," Mr Wilchcombe said.

"And the truth is, we have to give meaning to the local government. The local government ought to be defined in the sense that it's the people of a particular island and…what do the people want?"

"If they're opposed to it should not even be a debate. Because it's their island. They continue to enjoy it. And what's been bequeathed to them ought to remain.

"I know there've been debates about ownership and that land in particular over the years. Well, it's time for that land to return to the people.

"I think it's for the government to take ownership of it and put it in the hands of Bahamians."

When asked about the matter, area MP Hank Johnson told The Tribune: "There are two groups that (are) asking permission for the two proposals. And as the member of parliament, I would have to follow the lead of the people."

"So for that reason, for that reason, I have decided not to be a part of it, at this stage, I will be paying close attention as to how these things unfold. And I will follow the lead of the people in my constituency."

Mr Johnson clarified that he was referring to proposals from Disney and from the One Eleuthera Foundation.

"I have taken a neutral position, I will watch the trend of this, and at the end of the day, I'm (mandated) by my people."

When asked if he had concerns about the potential environmental impact of any development, Mr Johnson said he will address that "when the time comes".

Comments

concernedcitizen 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Point one , if Obie was involved or getting a cut he would be telling us how good the deal is and how many jobs it would create . Point two ,,this is privately held land and in a free society the owners have a right to do whatever they want w it . Point three ,,if the government sees fit to get the land they have to pay fare market value for it like anyone else .If they do so through any other means it would send shock waves through any future people/companies thinking of investing.

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TheMadHatter 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Agree with Mr Wilchcombe completely.

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concernedcitizen 2 months, 3 weeks ago

And just how does the government go about telling someone what to do w their property . Do you propose our broke government borrow to pay fair market value for Lighthouse point ..Wilchcombe and not so PLeasant Bridgewater need to pay back BOB before they voice their opinions .

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concernedcitizen 2 months, 3 weeks ago

I can show you a many places up and down the Exuma cays that look about the same ..Obie is making political hay ..That's one reason its hard to market the different islands ,,they all look similar .From where I,m sitting I could get in my boat now and w/ in an hour or two show u 50 places that look like this ,,from The Exuma cays to the Jumentos or run across Exuma sound to Cat or Eleuthera ..Plus if it is privately owned ,,we are not a dictator ship that strips owners of their land

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Clamshell 2 months, 3 weeks ago

I agree with Concerned Citizen. While I’d love to see this property preserved as a public park, it is private land and it cannot be just “taken”. Somebody’s gotta pony up and finance a purchase of it, whether that’s the gov’t or One Eleuthera Foundation or some other preservationist group.

Also, it is interesting to note that, to date, nobody has confirmed that Disney is interested in this land. Every time ya try to track that idea, it leads back to “rumors” on the island. Disney has never publicly acknowledged any interest in the land. They’ve confirmed that they’re looking for a second property in the Bahamas, but they’ve never confirmed that Lighthouse Point is their goal. It’s quite likely that LIghthouse Point is far too large and too expensive for one of their tourist-boat landings.

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DWW 2 months, 3 weeks ago

@Clamshell. Read the paper more often. Disney held town meeting on eleuthera very recently. I say let disney develop half and make the other half a nature preserve. It is a middle of the road solution. Disney only needs a 20 or 30 acres they don't need the entire 700 acre tract. @concerned whike there are many beautiful spots around the bahamas this one is in the top 10 and is currently unspoiled. Almost every exuma cay is privately owned even some within the park.

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concernedcitizen 2 months, 3 weeks ago

When is the last time you went up the Exuma cays ,up from where I am in Great Exuma .Your claim that almost every Cay in the Exuma cay is privately owned is factually wrong , Also running from here to Sampson cay there are well over 100 cays w perhaps at best 15 w homes ,including Little Farmers and Black point .Remember there are 365 Cays in the chain

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concerned799 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Lighthouse Beach should have been made a national park decades ago! It was only a matter of time before the private owners put it up for sale, we are just lucky they let people on it as long as they did. The government must pony up to buy it, no ifs, ands or buts about it, and the people must tell their MPs they WILL pay more in terms of limited duration levie/VAT surcharge that goes straight to a BNT managed fund with fully open books to finance the purchase.

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truetruebahamian 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Disney must not have Lighthouse point. They promise jobs but have an dismal record of hiring and firing at whim. For all of those who have visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads, the cruel fact is that within a year they will be replaced because as the Disney operators once told a friend who worked for them and mentioned that they did port in Grand Bahama when they were told to never mention it - she was told that it did not matter what she thought or what were past facts, thatoficially that never hppened and that her being in their employ was nothing particular to them as there were 10 people waiting to take on her low paying job. She was let go on the spot. Losing that piece of heritage to Disney would be a travesty as we (me being Eleutherian) would lose forever a pristine point of natural beauty which would only be ruined by Disney bevelopment and the dredging of surrounding sea bed for their ships would be only another knife in our throats. Disney and other cruise companies are in it for themselves, they really do not spread ny wealth nor do they care about the people they employ or those who live thereabouts and would lose access to something special that is ours and should be preserved as such.

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Sickened 2 months, 3 weeks ago

From what I know, these cruise ships don't hire more than a handful of Bahamians at their "islands". The staff off the ship work the restaurants, bars, shops, beaches etc.

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OMG 1 month, 3 weeks ago

One Eleuthera which is misnamed because everything that Shaun Ingraham does is in S Eleuthera has some agenda in this. Remember S Eleutherans whilst you blindly follow the herd that Mr Ingraham gets a good salary for doing his work unlike many of you.

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