Time to put Bahamian investors first 

Dear Editor,

Bahamians, I write to you for support. Today, it is me asking you for your support, tomorrow it may be you asking me for my support. We, as Bahamians, do a great job at supporting each other.

Paradise “Hog” Island Lighthouse & Beach Club seeks to restore the Lighthouse, Keeper’s Quarters and build a dock, at no cost to the Bahamian people, on the western end of Paradise Island.

The land will remain as Bahamian Crown land, as well as the restored buildings upon it.

The investment is all privately funded by Bahamians.

The development of the beach club will be on Crown land that is leased, yet, still remains the property of Bahamians.

The beach club will also have a dock and Bahamians will have greater beach access to our beaches to enjoy with one another in a safe, beautiful environment, along with our guests.

All employees will be Bahamian. Indirect employment opportunities will be created for Bahamians both during the construction and operational phases.

We know other enterprising Bahamians and seek to provide them with a place to show their trade and sell their wares.

We are embracing of other local business operators such as the ferry boat operators to ferry guests over, tour guides, event co-ordinators, etc. We want this to be an example of how successful Bahamians can be once allowed to have the opportunity and promote inclusiveness.

The lighthouse has sat in a dilapidated state of disrepair for decades and, tragically, too many buildings that the government of The Bahamas is responsible for and other historical masterpieces fall apart and are carted away.

A dock will be installed on the harbor side, so safe access can be achieved and Bahamians, as well as our guests, can enjoy an historical tour of the property, as well as sip a cool drink and have something delicious to eat.

As you travel east on Paradise Island, Colonial Beach begins and runs until it reaches the private, residential properties.

All of the land that the lighthouse sits on and Colonial Beach, is all Crown land, owned by the people of The Bahamas.

I initially applied in 2012 for a larger amount of the western end of Paradise Island for a Crown land lease.

Over the years, and as a result of occasional meetings with government, I have compromised and compromised and been reduced to five acres of Crown land.

After so many years, I was grateful to receive the Crown land lease along with the cover letter stating “approval”, so I signed, sealed and witnessed it just as instructed and provided payment in full.

I was grateful as a Bahamian having begged and begged for eight years, sent many proposals, made presentations, sat in meetings, sent thousands of emails, spent tens of thousands of dollars and dealt with a hundred government employees as well as agencies to finally make it to this point.

The government of The Bahamas states that Crown land is for Bahamians and yet they put us on this roundabout between government offices with no accountability and keep our Bahamian projects from moving forward.

I have sent many formal requests to meet with the prime minister and while he has told me on occasion to contact his secretary, this resulted in nothing.

I have been many times to “camp out” and see him at the House of Assembly and the Cabinet Office and while he has told me he is not going to compromise the terms of my deal, I have not been afforded a meeting to explain exactly and directly what I am planning to do and how I am creating opportunities for fellow Bahamians; given the current high unemployment, I thought he would welcome such a meeting.

How does the government of The Bahamas expect Bahamians to meet their expectations of creating honest employment and ownership opportunities if they keep us on this merry-go-round?

Bahamians are tired of watching foreign projects, one after another, either getting fast tracked through the Office of the Prime Minister and the agencies and allowed to skip what Bahamians are forced to endure.

Some pie in the sky foreign projects gets rapid government approval and result in nothing but hot air, broken promises and zero result.

As it currently stands, Bahamians should not have to take the government to court to be told by a judge to uphold agreements made.

Should the government of The Bahamas have to be taken to court by Bahamians to have an agreement in place “honored” by people who insist they are called “honorable” and “most honorable”? Lowering us Bahamians yet another peg from having to beg to now having to seek the courts’ protection?

How much resistance does the government of The Bahamas wish to put in Bahamians’ way to create opportunity for Bahamians?

I kindly ask for your support to put Bahamians first. Enough is too much!

Thank you.

Toby Smith

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