Govt eyeing purchase of old Bahamas Academy site
The government is considering the purchase of the site of the former Bahamas Academy, off Wulff Road, for the development of the STAR Academy, Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd said yesterday.
In May 2015, then Prime Minister Perry Christie announced that the government intended to lease the property on Wulff Road to build the STAR Academy, a government-run facility for at-risk youth.
In 2017, it was revealed that the Christie administration had spent nearly $30 million to develop the project on land that was not owned by the government. The Seventh-day Adventist Church owns the property.
Yesterday, Lloyd told The Nassau Guardian that the purchase of the Wulff Road property is one of the options being considered by the government to ensure the completion of the STAR Academy.
“That certainly is an option but it’s something, again, I’d rather leave them to decide without them reading about it in the newspaper…
“…But obviously they have to review with their team exactly which of those options that they find, or any combination of the options, they find acceptable,” he said.
Lloyd added, “All options are on the table because again $30 million is $30 million and it’s not a property that we own. We want to bring a resolution that would be obviously acceptable to the Bahamian people, because it’s their money, and to the Seventh-day Adventists.”
The minister denied that the government was negotiating a lease for the property.
He said the government recently “made what it considered to be a reasonable offer to the Seventh-day Adventists” but the executive leadership of the church rejected the offer and “sent a counter offer which we found unacceptable but our sides are committed to resolving this”.
“We had a meeting last week,” Lloyd said.
“Talks, we hope, formal talks, we hope, will start within two weeks when they would’ve had a chance to have a discussion about the new proposal and see exactly what their response would be and how they wish to approach it from their sides.”
Pastor Kenny Deveaux, who heads the South Bahamas Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, has declined to comment on the matter.
Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister recently told The Nassau Guardian that the government will have to spend roughly $10 million into the STAR Academy to ensure that it’s completed.
“We have no choice,” Bannister said.
“Too much of the Bahamian people’s money has gone into it.”
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice