The owners of a building in Caravel Beach demolished last week as part of a “clean-up project” are livid and trying to determine whether the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) or Urban Renewal is responsible for the blunder.
The 30-year-old two-storey four-plex was situated on South Mall Drive and considered dilapidated, abandoned and an eyesore and subsequently torn down last week Tuesday.
But owners Glen and Christine Higgs were oblivious.
Police Coordinator for Urban Renewal Inspector Henry Rolle revealed at the demolition site last week that the project surrounding the abandoned buildings is one that they have been reviewing for some time.
Insisting that the demolitions are not a spur of the moment act, Inspector Rolle said they carry out the proper investigation when it comes to finding out the owners of each property and whether there is any legal or binding order.
However, on Wednesday, Pastor Harrison Pinder, a friend of the Higgs family, visited The Freeport Newsroom to reveal that the couple was never contacted.
“This is devastating for them to see in the newspaper their building being demolished without any notice. In fact, they don’t have any notice,” he said, pointing out that he now has the arduous task with counseling the couple.
“Christine is very broken to the act that her husband is fighting for his health.”
The couple was in the process of renovating the building when Mr. Higgs suffered a serious illness seven months ago and his wife, a retired nurse, has had the onerous chore of being his caretaker.
When The Freeport News made initial contact with Mrs. Higgs late last week, she had only learned of the demolition within that hour.
In fact, she said, it was from a vendor while she was out making a purchase.
“My husband is at home sick and does not know. How could I break this news to him,” she said, trying to determine what the information would do to his health.
The GBPA issued a public notice for the demolition of the dilapidated building which was published three times last month notifying that the building was scheduled for demolition on March 22, 2013 and advised individuals with queries to contact its Building and Development Services.
The building was torn down on March 26.
In a follow-up call yesterday, Mrs. Higgs revealed that they were in contact with the GBPA and were referred to their legal department.
She added that they have since visited the site to see what was done.
“He is disturbed and we’re praying for his well-being,” she said of her husband.
She maintains, however, that they were not aware and were not informed and the last communication regarding the building was around the end of September.
Higgs said after securing the building to the best of their ability and the last communication she had with Urban Renewal there was a mutual understanding.
The last communication she had with the GBPA was to verify information about their property several weeks ago.
So, any information about them being contacted, she said, never came to them.
“What they would have done or said, it did not reach us,” Higgs said.
“We’re trying to recover and regroup and see what is the next step forward,” she said. “We’re still trying to come to grips with it.”
The GBPA issued a statement on the demolition after being contacted for comment on the issue.
“With respect to the demolition of the building situated on Lot 117 Caravel Beach, The Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited (GBPA) wishes to inform the public that it is empowered pursuant to Section 11 of the Freeport (Building Code And Sanitary Code) Bye-Laws 1967 (and amendments thereto) to demolish any structure in the Freeport Area, where the GBPA is of the opinion that the state and condition of the structure is such that it is detriment to the amenities of the neighborhood, by reason of its ruinous and dilapidated condition.
“The GBPA is satisfied that it duly issued the required notices in accordance with the provisions of the Bye-laws requiring the demolition of the building and the removal of the rubbish resulting therefrom,” the release stated.
The Freeport News also contacted Inspector Rolle for comment, but had not received an official statement up to press time.
By Lededra Marche
Freeport News Editor