Environmentalists: Minister’s assurances on Lighthouse Point not good enough
A midst growing angst over the proposed development plans for Lighthouse Point, several environmentalists yesterday questioned the government’s “silence” regarding its position on those proposals, which they fear will “threaten” the fragile Eleuthera environment.
At a press conference on Friday, reEarth Co-Founder Sam Duncombe, Executive Director of the Bahamas National Trust Eric Carey and Paco Nunez of Save The Bays railed against the proposed plan to sell the privately-owned land to a company for the development of a resort and cruise port. Pointing to the support their campaign has received in recent weeks, the environmentalists called on the Minnis administration to reject those bids.
“The petition to save Lighthouse Point has garnered over 19,000 signatures from those who wish to keep it accessible and wild as nature intended it to be,” Duncombe said.
“…While we understand that The Bahamas has basically followed one mode of development for the past 50 years, foreign direct investment, it also comes with the high price of lack of transparency, degraded communities and environments.
“We cannot stress enough that a cruise port decimates the environment,” Duncombe added.
The environmentalists spoke out one day after Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar sought to ease some of the anxiety surrounding potential development plans.
While marveling at the beauty of Lighthouse Point at a press conference on Thursday, D’Aguilar said, “There is no sitting politician that would allow for any commercial development, certainly at that point and the beaches around it.
“Now, way over in one section by a swamp or something, I don’t know. But I don’t want to box the government in and say that all 700 acres are not going to be developed, but I can certainly speak for that area around the lighthouse.”
While the environmentalists commended the minister for recognizing the beauty and value of Lighthouse Point, they said his assurances fell short.
“What is at stake here is an incredibly beautiful spot,” Carey said.
“…It’s larger than just that tiny little point. What we’re talking about is using that same space… for more sustainable development and more sustainable long-term jobs, for not just Lighthouse Point and not just the immediate settlements, but settlements for the entire island.
“We believe that a signature national park, a dramatic national park at Lighthouse Point supports many of the initiatives that are outlined in One Eleuthera’s shared vision, which is basically to create jobs in perpetuity and help the communities.”
Duncombe shared similar sentiments.
“As far as Minister D’Aguilar’s quotes on saving the point, I agree that’s a great step in the right direction, but we want it all. We want the whole thing.”
The group is not alone in its calls to protect the land from commercialization.
The Institute of Bahamian Architects is calling on government to purchase the land for Bahamians and tourists to enjoy; while the One Eleuthera foundation has proposed that government designate the area as a national park.
Education: Benedict College, BA in Mass Communications