By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
Treasure Cay residents yesterday voiced fears that the island will “die on the vine” unless the uncertainty surrounding the long-pending sale of its resort is urgently resolved so the economy can kick-start.
Randy Hondros, a Treasure Cay second homeowner, said the island could become a deserted ‘ghost town’ if its economic revival is not addressed more seriously by central government. A Hurricane Dorian victim, he has not been back to Treasure Cay for several months as the island has not progressed sufficiently since it was devastated by the Category Five storm.
“It’s been nearly three years, and these people are hurting and struggling to try and rebuild their homes and their lives,” Mr Hondros said. “I think what is really missing here is, for some reason, the message doesn’t seem to resonate in Nassau with the Bahamian government that Treasure Cay Ltd was the heart of the economy of North Abaco. Treasure Cay Ltd basically folded after the hurricane; they left over 200 people unemployed. These were hundreds of Bahamians with decent paying jobs.”
The fate of Treasure Cay Resort’s potential sale to controversial Austrian investor, Dr Mirko Kovats, remains clouded in uncertainty, while the island’s lift station has yet to be repaired by the Water & Sewerage Corporation so there is no working public sewage system.
“As homeowners we paid $2,000 a piece, and offered it to the Water and Sewerage Corporation for them to begin the capital expense to get our sewer system back up and running. I’m not sure if the project is under way as yet, but this has been nearly three years since we have been struggling with this sewerage situation,” Mr Hondros said
The collective $320,000 donation was formally accepted by the Water & Sewerage Corporation last month following a year of trying to encourage the state-owned water utility to accept it.
“What’s really disheartening is that I don’t understand why this thing has gone on as long as it has, and the other thing is the uncertainty over the future of the heart of Treasure Cay is driving any potential investors away,” Mr Hondros said. “I’m deathly afraid Treasure Cay could die on the vine. I’m afraid that could happen if a sale is not approved to an investor that has the best interest of Treasure Cay.”
The offer made by Dr Kovats to the Meister family, owners of the Treasure Cay Resort, was accepted and sent to the Bahamas Investment Authority last year for approval but no word has been given on its status. Since that time two counter-offers have been made to the Meister family, but they have not been entertained.
Trevor Lightbourn, owner/operator of Treasure Charters, Island Hopping and Deep-Sea Fishing, added: “Nobody knows what’s going on. Everything is just up in limbo. There is nothing being said concerning the sale, and there is no solid information like when is this all going to happen, and when are they going to put some infrastructure in place for the marina and things like that.”
With the resort and marina in a state of disrepair, there are no guests arriving and Mr Lightbourn cannot use the marina for docking. He added: “There is nothing happening right now because, even with the sewer system being down, we don’t have the volume of people. I have some people that have second homes here that I’ve been doing work for, and I’m doing what I have to do to survive.
“At the Bahama Beach Club they cant’ take too many people because of the sewer system and other places that rely on the sewer system. They are suffering, and a lot of other places tied to the sewer system are suffering, and that falls down on me because if we don’t have the volume of people then I can’t get jobs.”
Gordon Beavridge, a second homeowner on Treasure Cay, said: “I’m not sure a sale for the Treasure Cay Resort has been accepted or approved. I just keep hearing rumours and innuendos, but nobody has really come out and said who is on board and who is actually going to be a part of the sale.
“I think the major issue is is that the Treasure Cay Ltd is more or less abandoned. There is no security or progressive clean up. With Water & Sewerage they don’t have the lift stations, and those still haven’t been repaired 32 months down the road. I think its really disappointing for everyone involved.”
Mr Beavridge has opted to live in Marsh Harbour instead of Treasure Cay because the living conditions are simply unbearable. “I think they are trying to repair the lift stations now, but I haven’t seen any action or any firm direction or communication from anyone on what to expect. I’m in the construction business, and you can deal with what you can expect, but when you have unknowns you just don’t know what to expect,” he said.