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High School Activists Take On Disney Over Lighthouse Point

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From left, Tammy Weinberger, students Wadainya Weinburger, 16, Franchesca Hanna, 16, and Kristman Moss, 15, along with environmentalist Sam Duncombe (second from right) outside The Tribune yesterday. Photo: Morgan Adderley/Tribune Staff

By MORGAN ADDERLEY

Tribune Staff Reporter

madderley@tribunemedia.net

THREE Central Eleuthera High School students have taken on the mantle of activism as they join scores of environmentalists in the fight to prevent Lighthouse Point, Eleuthera from being developed into a cruise port.

Eleventh grade students Wadainya Weinburger, 16, Franchesca Hanna, 16, and Kristman Moss, 15, sat down with The Tribune yesterday during a visit to Nassau to discuss their hopes for Lighthouse Point and why they want it to be more than a "playground for the wealthy".

Renowned for its beauty, Lighthouse Point is a privately owned 700-acre peninsula at the southern tip of Eleuthera.

Earlier this month, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation confirmed that Disney Cruise Lines made presentation to the Chamber regarding the company's proposal to develop a destination at the site.

In March, the students visited the site with classmates. "Words can't explain the way it felt when we were there," Wadainya said, recounting the beauty of the ponds, foliage, engraved rocks, sand, and sea. "It just was jaw-dropping, amazing, gorgeous."

"(It felt) like our heart and our soul automatically connected with nature," Franchesca added.

In contrast, Franchesca said she was "heartbroken" when she learned of the Disney proposal.

Like most teenagers, the students expressed great affection for the Walt Disney Company, its amusement parks, and its merchandise. However, they were concerned about Lighthouse Point being barricaded from locals, the environmental impact of another cruise port on their island, the sustainability of the endeavour, and whether they will be able to share Lighthouse Point with their own future children.

"We don't want to discriminate (against) Disney," Wadainya said. "We love Disney, you know -- the movies and everything, it's very exciting. And we love their theme of Disney in the States.

"But when you come to an island, especially the island of freedom, we have to understand that we have our rights and the freedom to roam about Eleuthera and visit the different beaches on the island to see how amazing it is and how it uplifts the people in the community.

"And we're trying to speak on it because we don't want it to be (broken) down, destroyed. Because Disney, they're going to destroy the environment and everything else that is there to build what they have to build," she continued.

"So, yes there are going to be jobs, but is everybody going to be able to go there? That's a definite no. The people of the community are going to be shut off and we want it to be open to the people. Also, we want to give them jobs."

She added creating sustainable jobs is a goal of the One Eleuthera Foundation, one of the organisations at the forefront of the mission to save Lighthouse Point from commercial development.

Along with the Bahamas National Trust, sustainable alternatives One Eleuthera is proposing for the site development include a national park component, a research facility, and a small eco-lodge.

Kristman said his dream is for Lighthouse Point to be accessible for future generations of Bahamians, and not become a "memory".

"(My dream is) to be able to share it with the future generations," he said. "(For it) to stay with the Bahamian people who inhabit the land, not to any foreigner who goes and comes as they (please). Because too many times we have to live off of a memory -- somebody before us remembers what it (was) like, but we don't know what it's like… And we can't experience it fully.

"If you sell Lighthouse Point to Disney, then they make a profit but we don't.

"What One Eleuthera is proposing is we're going to keep our property."

The students excitedly described how this experience has been their first foray into activism.

"This opportunity helped me to find my voice," Franchesca said. "I didn't know I had this voice to speak up (with)…If it could happen for me, it could happen for anyone else.

"Lighthouse Beach definitely helped me find myself," she said. "If it stays with One Eleuthera (OE), it could help many other young people and they could see (why) we fight for this."

She said even if OE loses their fight, she'll know they did their best and the outcome was simply "beyond their control".

"We don't want to put all this work in for us to leave," Kristman added. Regarding Lighthouse Point itself, Wadainya said: "You just have to go and experience it so that you could feel the way that we feel. It's a treasure to everyone when you go there."

Comments

OMG 1 week ago

Lot of disinformation going around and I wonder whether these three students have been persuaded to become activists on behalf of adults. The south needs jobs and at least 150 are offer, access will be maintained for all and I wonder why the same fuss was not made about Princess Keys. Yes preserve the island as far as possible but I really wonder how many including these three students ever visited Lighthouse point before this and how much influence the very rich of Cotton Bay are exerting. Maybe One SOUTH Eleuthera could state their position ?

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Soapstop 1 week ago

Exactly the point. Developments such as Princess Cays went ahead. Many didn’t feel it would add much to the economy. I think all concerned individuals agree some development must happen to improve the economy of south Eleuthera. Has Princess Cays helped much? Forbidding looking gates and warnings from the cruise line company about safety and little to see keeps the money inside the compound. How many full time jobs has Princess Cays provided? How many Bahamians work at Castaway Cays? Both developments give us insight as to how LHP will play up. The past holds keys to the future. Ignore the evidence at The Bahamas and the inhabitants of south Eleuthera’s peril

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kristelsea 6 days, 13 hours ago

One Eleuthera is offering jobs. Just as many jobs. I live in South Eleuthera and understand the overall benefit One Eleuthera's Shared Vision will offer to many more Bahamians than anything Disney offers. I work in the tour industry and see the sneaky tactics of cruise lines. Here my words, if Disney is allowed to go ahead with their plans, you will regret it 5 years down the road. All promises made will appear different in reality... Disney has a top of the line Public Relations department and can sell ice to an Eskimo. But they will get away with a lot of BS due to "technicalities" and it will simply be too late. Thank god for the rich people who are supporting One Eleuthera or OE would never have been able to come up with the money to offer on LHP. Isn't Disney just another rich white man telling the Bahamians what to do with their land? Why not let Bahamians uplift Bahamians?

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licks2 1 week ago

The very rich such as cotton bay and other rich whites homeowners in that district are on this I think. . . the persons who are in One Eleuthera. . .who are in court with Frankie Wilson's group about taking land in that area have not surfaced on this matter as yet. WHY? I visited that area and what these persons are saying is making no sense. . .the poor need the development. . .the rich white want to keep their exclusivity. . .

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Soapstop 1 week ago

One Eleuthera has a plan that provides the jobs. They have met with government before and got no assistance. They have made offers going back years on this land. They are neither a Johnny-come-lately to this area, nor are they under the control of “rich white fol”. Their board is made up of nearly all Bahamians that have no funding restrictions. There are no “yellow funds” that have a particular purpose other than to promote Bahamian authorship in their future, including employment, education, and entrepreneurship for the future health of Eleutherans.

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