Thursday, October 18, 2018

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Eleuthera's Disney Rally Shows Us There Has To Be A Better Way

Dear Readers,

Today's Editorial is a guest editorial from The Tribune by Alicia Wallace, printed with permission:

By now, most of us have at least heard about Lighthouse Point - 700 acres of privately-owned property in South Eleuthera - Disney Cruise Line's bid to buy and develop it, and the opposition this plan has received, particularly from environmentalists.

Disney submitted a proposal for the acquisition and development of the property, making it a second cruise destination the company would manage. This plan was shared in a meeting held in Eleuthera in August where a Disney representative circulated flyers about the "significantly smaller and less dense development" than others proposed and "sustainable design and building practices" to minimize environmental impact. Organizations and individuals including Bahamas National Trust (BNT) and reEarth have called for the site should become a national park.

BNT has stated that the proposed development of Lighthouse Point is not sustainable and would negatively impact the environment. The organization noted that, in additional the environment harm, developments of this kind generally do not create many jobs and limit public access. The Institute of Bahamian Architects (IBA) supported the call for the government to purchase and protect Lighthouse Point, noting that no matter how "sustainable" Disney says the development would be, it would cause irreparable damage to the environment. IBA said in a statement in August, "We all know that there is no enforcement and just servicing thousands of persons on a daily basis will cause massive and irreparable environmental degradation and pollution in many ways." IBA has gone a step further, calling for a Family Island development plan - part of a long-term solution to the issues with developments of this kind.

There are, of course, people in support of the development by Disney. The promise of jobs is enough to excite and draw support. It is difficult for any person or group of people in economic crisis to see past immediate needs. We have been taught to think of job creation as the answer to economic woes, and to see foreign investors as saviors. It seems like a quick fix - sell property, a company who has done it before can build an attractive tourism-centered structure, and Bahamians can benefit by working for those investors whose profits leave the country. It seems easier, faster, and more certain than a community response because we have not seen fellow Bahamians given comparable opportunities.

We have not explored options outside of sun, sand, and sea tourism and job creation. We think about development in limited terms, without imagining how the protection of sites like Lighthouse Point could benefit us, as Bahamians, while being seen and appreciated by visitors. It has become more difficult to see what we already have when there is a promise of "more" to come. There is a long, tiring game of tug-of-war between development as we understand it and sustainability.

Sam Duncombe of reEarth spoke of 200 species of birds, the lighthouse itself, and other natural features of Lighthouse Point. Can the site not be monetized without destruction? Is economic development and monetization more important than all else? Is it our failing to see and understand the value of what we have that leads others to undervalue (or understate and downplay) it so we get robbed? What we are now accustomed to has limited our imagination, and our rush for short-term gain is the vacuum that makes real value, financial and otherwise, disappear.

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Click Below for this week's weather in The Bahamas:
Upcoming Calendar
New Providence
Grand Bahama
  • October 20th, 2018

    • Humane Society Pub Quiz 7:30pm at Garden of the Groves
  • October 26th, 2018

    • Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce 8th Annual Business Excellence Awards 12:30pm at Garden of the Groves
  • October 27th, 2018

    • Local Farmers and Craft Market 9:00 am - 1:00pm at Rand Nature Centre
  • October 27th, 2018

    • Halloween in the Gardens 5:00pm - 8:00pm at Garden of the Groves 
Family Islands
  • October 28th, 2018

    • Annual Cancer Society Walk For a Cure at Governor's Harbour
  • October 31st, 2018

    • Staniel Cay: Halloween Costume Party at Staniel Cay Yacht Club
  • November 3rd, 2018

    • Clean-up Campaign: Harbour Island at Sugar Mill Building
  • January 14th - 24th, 2019 
    • The Great Abaco Classic at Abaco Club
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