The government’s negotiations for the property on which the STAR Academy was built have come to “a standstill”, Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd said yesterday.
Since 2017, the government has been in talks with the Seventh-day Adventist Church regarding the school, which was the brainchild of former Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald and former Prime Minister Perry Christie.
However, yesterday, Lloyd told reporters outside Cabinet, “That has come to a standstill.”
He continued, “Unfortunately, we have reached out to the [Adventist] church to seek to resolve it and I am advised by my team that, that effort is ongoing so that we can see how there is a resolution.
“But, as you know, it’s quite a concern to us that some $20 million has been spent and another $10-or-so-million for a property which may not be useful for us in the long-term and certainly is not our own property.”
In May 2015, Christie announced that the government intended to lease the former Bahamas Academy on Wulff Road for the development of the STAR Academy, a government-run facility for at-risk youth.
In June 2017, during a presentation in the House of Assembly, Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister said the Christie administration had spent a total $29,539,785.93 on the project, noting that the previous administration had authorized $6,891,333.60 for demolition works and to undertake the first two phases of construction.
He also noted how weeks before the last general election, tens of millions of dollars were approved for the project, which sits on land not owned by the government.
It was later revealed that the property was owned by the Seventh-day Adventist Church and that the Christie administration never signed the lease agreement for the use of the church’s land for the development of the academy.