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2004-04-06 15:22:05

Keeping Bay Street Clean

The Downtown Nassau Improvement Initiative was launched in June 2003 by Minister of Tourism, Obie Wilchcombe.

The $500,000 project was jointly funded by the Ministry of Tourism, to the tune of $400,000, with the balance donated by Bay Street merchants.

Just what has been done with this money could very well be compared to the greatest trick the devil ever played. A shopkeeper located at the western end of the downtown strip said: "They come and steam-clean the sidewalks every three months, but other than that I do not see anything happening down at this [the western] end. There have been no additional garbage bins placed on the street and no shrubbery or potted plants have been added."

The vendor went on to say that a meeting was hosted for all Bay Street merchants by the Nassau Tourism Development Board over the recent Christmas holidays and some of the suggestions seemed to be lacking in practicality in their appeal to locals.

Among the ideas put forth was one which would involve strolling violinists on the waterfront.

The downtown area should remain as fastidiously pristine as Disney World every day, given that two disposal companies, one public and one private have split the contract for keeping downtown clean.

The Beaumont House, which has been roughly 90 percent restored, needs only to be unwrapped. As you drive by you can see the blue cellophane protective wrap still adhering to the windows and the towering glass doors. But nestled in between the executive office edifice and the once and future site of the Straw Market is a narrow landfill. Broken bits of wood, unused cement blocks and half-laden pallets remain visible from the street - a reminder that progress is slow and fairly recent.

For Bay Street, it would seem that both improvements and inactivity owe their fate to the strength of political winds. That is the train of thought one must embrace in order to comprehend why the Straw Market, which was destroyed by fire on Sept. 4, 2001, has not yet begun reconstruction. A downtown merchant expressed her scepticism with regard to the proposed reconstruction start date of April of this year. It is the fourth date announced as the projected start date of the project.

According to Mr. Norman Solomon of the Nassau Tourism Development Board said, "The Initiative is still going on and will hopefully continue to go on for a long time. There is an awful lot to be done that hasn't been done yet and it will take a long time to get it done."

Brigette Dean, The Nassau Guardian 

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