Time to abandon negativity on Disney Eleuthera project

Further to recent attempts by parties (particularly those not part of the South Eleuthera community) to disparage Disney Lighthouse Point project, I thought it important to express my personal and independent thoughts on the matter.

I believe that everyone should have a right to express their views and I trust that that courtesy will extend to residents like me to have a dissenting opinion.

I have had an opportunity to review the proposal, meet and get to know the Disney team, and gauge the likely impact on my economy; an economy (which you should note) has been on the decline for many years.

I am a resident, a South Eleuthera business owner and real estate developer who is passionate about my island and who has spent years working on and personally investing in various opportunities that I believe would help my community.

We (South Eleutherans) have been promised many things in the past that although efforts have been made, for various reasons, have not fully materialized.

Those in this community know that Lighthouse Point has been privately owned for a number of years, as well as openly marketed for sale and has sat undeveloped until Disney expressed an interest in the development roughly three years ago.

Since then, many counterproposals have been presented. All of which have some level of merit and I believe prove that we are all on the same page with respect to the fact that a development of the Lighthouse Point property would be beneficial to the island.

Where we differ is, firstly, as the old adage would say, money buy land, and secondly on what development should look like and who should do the development.

In light of the fact that Disney has purchased the land and conducted a thorough, three-year-long environmental impact assessment (EIA), it seems unconscionable that there continues to be all of this outside (non-Eleutheran) lobbying against.

I would note that the same level of effort and follow through was not made prior to Disney’s involvement.

In many respects, there seems to be more concern about stopping Disney rather than focusing on the growth and development of our community.

Disney, like every developer, is presenting our community with an opportunity – whether you are in the tour business (like me) or in construction, like many other persons.

It is up to South Eleutherans to step up to the plate and take advantage of it.

I personally invite all of those who oppose Disney, because they have another plan, to go out there and find another property and show Disney how it’s done.

There is an abundance of fantastic real estate across the island that needs development. And the more projects that come on stream, the more opportunities there will be for Eleutherans.

I believe that most Eleutherans love the environment and ecology of our island just as much as those who visit. But we love our families too. We want our children to grow up here and have opportunities to not only etch out an existence here, but also have a good quality of life, to excel and to succeed at home.

With this in mind, it seems important to add to the conversation the point that this discussion is multifaceted, not just about a cruise port and not just about the environment. It is about the livelihoods and sustainable development of an island community.

I do not want to be misunderstood. I am happy to see that so many persons are interested in the island of Eleuthera and I welcome all of you to invest here and develop other environmentally friendly and sustainable developments.

I am simply asking that we move away from this win or lose narrative when it comes to the Disney development.

I am calling for a fair, professional and unbiased process, as three years of research is not a rushed endeavor.

My call to action would be for those expending tremendous resources and energies opposing the project to redirect this effort to the myriad of other opportunities that exist on this island.

Allow the process being carefully undertaken by our government to continue unhindered, so that a proper determination can be made.

The negativity must stop and the voices of Eleutherans (especially South Eleutherans) need to be heard and we need to move on.

Thomas Sands

Resident and business owner

Rock Sound, Eleuthera

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