Work has already begun on Disney Cruise Line’s $400 million project at Lighthouse Point, with executives announcing recently that the company has received all of the necessary environmental approvals to move forward with the project at the southern end of Eleuthera.
Disney was awaiting government approval of its environmental impact assessment and environmental management plan to begin construction. In a community newsletter, DCL said now that it has received the required permits, hiring will start for construction-related positions, with a job fair tentatively scheduled for March 5 at the Eleuthera Business Hub as the company seeks to fill more than double the number of construction jobs promised in its heads of agreement with government.
“We are so grateful for the support we have received from the people and government of The Bahamas over the past few years. It is because of your engagement and feedback that we have continued to shape the project into something we can all be proud of. I am pleased to share that we have now received all the necessary approvals from the government of the Bahamas to begin our work at Lighthouse Point,” President of Disney Cruise Line Thomas Mazloum said in the newsletter.
“ As we get started, we remain committed to our guiding principles: creating sustainable economic opportunities for Bahamians, protecting and sustaining the natural beauty of the site, celebrating Bahamian culture and helping to strengthen the community in Eleuthera. We are excited to move this important work forward with you and will continue to keep you updated on our progress and how you can get involved.”
DCL initially promised to create 120 local jobs during construction, but said that number is now expected to exceed 300 during the construction period.
DCL has contracted American Bridge as the design-builder for the project, which will transform less than 20 percent of the roughly 750 acres purchased by Disney into low-density open-air structures, patios and walkways, an open-trestle pier and small marina that does not require dredging.
“As construction begins, the current public road at Lighthouse Point will be closed beginning March 2 for safety reasons until a temporary road can be completed, which will take approximately six weeks. Given the poor condition of the current road, it is not safe for motorized vehicles to share the road with construction equipment,” DCL said.
“The new temporary public road will open on April 15 to provide access until the completion of construction, at which point the new permanent public road will open. During this time, access to the beach and the southernmost point will continue to be available by foot via the beach or boat.”
As work accelerates, DCL said it intends to ramp up contracting with local businesses.
Although Disney has pledged to donate a quarter of the land it purchased to the Bahamian government, the project has been shrouded in controversy as local and international environmentalists have urged government not to approve the project for fear of the impact the introduction of cruising will have to the sensitive ecosystem of South Eleuthera.