The view at Lighthouse Point. Photo: Barefoot Marketing
By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Bahamas National Trust and One Eleuthera Foundation are warning that although Disney Cruise Lines has said it has no immediate plans to block local access to the Lighthouse Point beach, “experience has taught” that such plans can be changed as development progresses.
In a statement released yesterday, the organisations reiterated calls for more sustainable development to occur at Lighthouse Point, the privately owned 700 hundred-acre peninsula at the southern tip of Eleuthera.
Noting there is already one cruise port established in South Eleuthera, the BNT and OE suggested Grand Bahama may be better suited for this initiative, as it “already boasts the necessary infrastructure needed to support such a massive development.”
An online petition to save Lighthouse Point has gathered more than 20,000 signatures, a feat the BNT and OE say sends “a clear message to the government that (it) should instead support a sustainable development option.”
Last week, BNT Executive Director Eric Carey said the public should continue to sign the petition and call for members of Parliament to support the initiative.
“The BNT and the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce have met with Disney representatives,” Mr Carey said. “Though we fully appreciate their intentions as well as the desire by our government to create jobs, Disney’s plan fails to create the kind of sustained employment opportunities which Bahamians want and deserve.
“With one cruise port already established in South Eleuthera, we question why we should pitch another floating skyscraper on this breath-taking beach.”
According to the statement, both the BNT and OE “remain concerned” about the loss of public access to an area “inextricably linked to the history and heritage” of Eleuthera.
OE CEO Shaun Ingraham told the media the site has a “deep connection” to the Bannerman Town community, which used to be the largest settlement on the island.
“While the developer has intimated no immediate plans to block local access to the beach, experience has taught us that such plans can, and are often changed as development plans progress,” the statement said.
“Consider the failed Ginn Project on Grand Bahama and the failed cruise port which devastated over 14 dive sites on the island of Bimini; the country’s recent investor history is littered with examples of projects – which promise the world – but fail to live up to the expectations set by developers.”
Mr Carey said the organisations are not advocating for the site to be “locked away” from any level of development. However, he called for Lighthouse Point and its surrounding areas to be converted into a national park that will provide sustainable employment, using the development model outlined in OE’s shared vision for the site.
“While the One Eleuthera Foundation and the BNT believe that Lighthouse Point is not the ideal location for such a development, we believe that other islands within our archipelago might be better suited for such a development, specifically Grand Bahama which already boasts the necessary infrastructure needed to support such a massive development,” the statement added.
“As citizens of this beautiful country, members of the various organisations fully understand the role that cruise tourism plays in the Bahamas, it has become apparent that this relationship needs to be reviewed and made more advantageous to the Bahamas.”