By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
ENVIRONMENT groups from across The Bahamas have come together to launch a petition to save Lighthouse Point, a historic Eleuthera landmark residents fear could be destroyed by major capital development if not protected.
“Lighthouse Point is one of the most popular beach and recreation areas in the entire Bahamas,” the petition on change.org states. “The biodiversity of the ecosystem and the hugely important cultural and historic resources are irreplaceable and should be preserved for the enjoyment and education of the entire community and not just for a select few.”
The Tribune understands Lighthouse Point, despite its history and importance to the island of Eleuthera, sits on a privately owned property that is now listed for sale.
According to the Save Lighthouse Point (SLP) petition, the property is being marketed for sale as a large-scale development opportunity.
The group hoping to save the property has also said attempts by conservation partners to buy the property for its environmental value and develop it as a sustainable model have been unsuccessful.
Holly Peel, a long-time resident of Eleuthera who contacted The Tribune with concerns over how the property was being handled, called on the government to get involved and help the group pushing to keep the property.
Mrs Peel said there is growing panic throughout the island’s community that the sale, if completed, could result in a major development which could destroy the historical landmark.
“The record will show, the people of Eleuthera have never taken kindly to our historical points being ran over and mismanaged,” she told The Tribune.
“Lighthouse Point is a cherished landmark and we will not sit back and watch it be sold off to a development company that could just come in and put up a hotel around it or some water park.
“This site is historic and there is no monetary value you can get to offset that fact,” she added.
Sources at the Antiquities, Monuments and Museums Corporation said it was aware of current concern surrounding the proposed sale of the property, but added AMMC, as a quasi government corporation, could not halt any sale or negotiation of private property.
Press Secretary Anthony Newbold confirmed there has been no government involvement in the process to date, saying all matters discussed surrounding the site have been among private interests.
In 2016, Disney Cruise Line walked away from plans to build a cruise port at Egg Island, Eleuthera, saying impact studies suggested the island’s marine environment could not sustain such a development.
In an email responding to questions from The Tribune on the proposed development, at that time, Disney Cruise Line spokeswoman Kim Prunty confirmed that environmental impact assessments and geo-technical studies carried out by the company indicated the island’s marine and environmental profile could not survive a development on that level.
Ms Prunty said as a result, Disney Cruise Lines made the decision to close the door on the idea.
The Egg Island proposal was also met by a petition spearheaded by residents of Eleuthera, calling for a ban on any development by Disney Cruise Lines.
Former Prime Minister Perry Christie was made to address the development after the petition had garnered some 1,337 signatures.
SLP’s petition had 6,567 signatures up to press time yesterday.