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2005-05-23 09:01:21

Guana Cay Controversy Still Rages

Discovery Land Company Vice President Steve Adelson, however, has maintained his company’s commitment to adhering to high standards in constructing and maintaining the development.

Neither party to the ongoing dispute over the multimillion-dollar development planned for Guana Cay is showing any sign of relenting from its position as they await a key Supreme Court ruling later this week which could significantly impact the fate of the development.

Justice Stephen Isaacs was expected to make a decision last Wednesday on whether he would grant an injunction to halt work on the $500 million Baker's Bay project.

The Supreme Court judge indicated, however, that he would require another seven days to review documents submitted as part of the application for the injunction.

According to Save Guana Cay Reef Association member, Troy Albury, concerned Guana Cay residents are anxiously awaiting that decision as they intensify efforts to have the developers suspend ongoing preparatory works.

Just last week, he said, the Discovery Land Company project developers applied to local authorities for permission to erect a number of structures planned as part of the project.

"The Hope Town council met [Thursday] and there were two permits before the council in reference to constructing a new dock and eight tents that the [developers] claim are going to be a welcome centre and I guess a marketing office type facility," Mr. Albury said.

"We strenuously objected to the tents because they are way out of local architecture standards and they don't allow anybody else to build tents anywhere. And also we don't want a circus in Guana Cay."

Mr. Albury said opponents of the development presented to the council a petition signed by "every member of Guana Cay" against the dock and tents.

Work on those facilities will be held up for at least another several weeks, he pointed out, as the council deferred a decision on the permits and will not meet again until next month.

The delay marked the second time the Hope Town council deferred a decision on the permits, having determined last month that the applicants had submitted insufficient documentation to support the applications.

The association member further noted that the tents, though described as temporary, will have foundations and occupy up to 6,000 square feet.

Opposition to the large-scale development gained momentum after the government signed a heads of agreement with developers earlier this year. The project is expected to include an 18-hole golf course, 180-slip marina, 75-room luxury hotel, and 350 residential lots.

Following weeks of sustained resistance – including legal action and a demonstration in Rawson Square – Mr. Albury said he is pleased with efforts by the Save Guana Cay Reef lobby thus far.

"I feel very confident that we will get the injunction, but definitely if we don't get the injunction and the project goes ahead we will get the judicial review," he said.

The Save Guana Cay Reef member also expressed satisfaction with the level of public awareness the association has been able to stimulate, adding, "We are very pleased that we have opened the eyes of lots of Bahamians on how those sort of processes go with the giving away of Crown Land and the concessions that the developers are getting. A lot of Bahamians were unaware of what was happening."

Illustrating the lack of trust in the Discovery Land Company which he first expressed over a month ago, Mr. Albury questioned whether the project would have been significantly further ahead had it not been for the vocal opposition of Save Guana Cay Reef Association.

"It's my feeling that if we hadn't started this [protest] six months ago [the developers] would have already started dredging the marina," he said.

"They already have on site quite a bit of the stuff that they need to begin construction and it's my feeling that if we weren't pushing them the way we have been they would have already done a lot of things."

Discovery Land Company Vice President Steve Adelson, however, has maintained his company's commitment to adhering to high standards in constructing and maintaining the development.

While acknowledging that there are some objections by persons opposed to the development which Discovery Land Company simply cannot overcome, Mr. Adelson said the company is collecting valuable input from officials, including local government representatives.

He further pointed out in April that developers were conducting a door-to-door campaign in Guana Cay as they continued efforts to negotiate a compromise with opponents.

Darrin Culmer, The Bahama Journal

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