Lamenting that it has been too long now that the outside world has made decisions for Eleuthera, Hank Johnson, member of Parliament for Central and South Eleuthera, yesterday urged the government to move forward with approving the Disney Cruise Line development at Lighthouse Point.
Local and international environmentalists, including Hollywood celebrities, have launched a campaign to dissuade the government from approving the $400 million cruise port development project, arguing that the cruise line’s environmental impact assessment (EIA) does not provide sufficient protection.
The Stop Disney – Last Chance for Lighthouse Point petition has gotten hundreds of thousands of signatures from people all over the world.
However, Johnson said residents of Central and South Eleuthera are desperate for the economic impact the project is expected to inject into the island and people who know nothing about Eleuthera should not have a say.
“Never in the history of life have I seen such nonsense, as a young man and as a member of Parliament for Central and South Eleuthera, when there are thousands of signatures saying to the people of Eleuthera that we don’t know what we want, we don’t know what we need. And when we are going to allow persons from all over the world to say to us projects are not good for the people of Eleuthera, when there are approximately 90,000 signatures from people who know absolutely nothing about Eleuthera. Who know nothing about my island, who choose to speak for the people of Eleuthera,” he said while contributing to debate on the 2021/2022 budget in the House of Assembly yesterday.
“We speak for ourselves. We went off to school to be trained to know what’s right from wrong and what is good for our environment and what is not so good for our environment. We stand behind the decision that we made as a people and we are urging our government to move this project forward. It’s been too long now, we have allowed the outside world to determine the direction Eleuthera will go. And to be quite frank with you, I am sick and tired of it as the member of Parliament and so are my people.
“There was no politics involved in that, it was about the people, the survival of the people, making sure that our people have a fair chance in life and our young people have a future and something to look forward to. We are tired of waiting, it’s about time this project come to fruition.”
Disney submitted its EIA to the government in December 2019 and it was made public on March 10.
Disney has said the project will produce 150 direct and indirect well-paying jobs with benefits for the island’s residents.
Disney has projected that the project would provide an $805.1 million increase in The Bahamas’ gross domestic product over 25 years and a $357.5 million increase in government revenues.
Disney purchased 758 acres of the 919-acre site – located at the southernmost tip of Eleuthera – in 2019, from a private owner who intended to construct condominiums and a marina at the site.
Disney’s plans include developing less than 20 percent of the property, promising to make most of the construction low-density, open-air structures, patios and walkways.
Disney has also pledged to donate a quarter of the land it purchased to the people and government of The Bahamas.