OLIVE BRANCH?: GBPA says it wants to work with Del Zotto family to resolve conflict

OLIVE BRANCH?: GBPA says it wants to work with Del Zotto family to resolve conflict
Freeport, Grand Bahama, during a previous lockdown order. (BIS PHOTO)

FREEPORT, GRAND BAHAMA — The Grand Bahama Port Authority says it is willing to work with the Del Zotto family to resolve the conflict that is pushing the family to pull its investments from Grand Bahama.

More than 100 jobs remain threatened after the Del Zotto family blamed the GBPA for its decision to pull out of the island.

The family, who are the principals of Gold Rock, Home Design Centre and Do it Centre on Freeport, said the GBPA showed “blatant disregard” for the growth of Grand Bahama.

In response, the GBPA said the family’s comments were meant to “engage in mudslinging” and were “false, salacious and purposefully sensationalized.”

The authority criticized the family’s wishes for its contract with the Grand Bahama Development Company, saying Gold Rock failed to mine the agreed-upon quantity of aggregate from the Devonshire subdivision and that its exclusive deal simultaneously prevented other entities from accessing that aggregate.

The authority said the proposed new contract would right-size the agreement to give the family access to the amount of aggregate is could mine.

Nonetheless, the GBPA softened its tone in a statement posted on Facebook yesterday.

“It has always been the position of the principals, shareholders and management of the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) that the closure of the Gold Rock Company and its sister businesses is not in the best interests of Grand Bahama,” the company said on Facebook.

“We reiterate our concern for the well-being of the hundreds of affected workers and their families, as well as the impact on consumers, other licensees and the island’s economy as a whole.

“The Port Authority understands that DEVCO has been and remains open to further discussion with Gold Rock’s principals in the hope of charting a productive way forward.

“The Port Authority acknowledges and accepts a concern on the part of DEVCO that the terms of its former agreement with Gold Rock unfairly privileged once licensee over others. As previously stated, we also regret attempts to mischaracterize GBPA’s role in this matter, in an effort to gain a negotiating advantage. Our responsibility is to protect the interests of all licenses and promote the well-being of the Grand Bahama community as a whole.

“In keeping with this mandate, we express our sincere hope that this matter can still be resolved amicably. We are certain that through further negotiation in the spirit of good faith, a new agreement can be concluded that is equitable and beneficial to all involved.

“GBPA stands ready to facilitate a new negotiation process between Gold Rock and DEVCO and assist the parties in whatever way we can. Our door remains open.”

The GBPA’s statements come after Labour Director Robert Farquharson said his department, in an effort to be proactive, has begun talks with the Del Zotto family about what it will have to do to wind down its operations.

Prime Minister Philip Davis has intervened in the conflict, urging the parties to settle their differences.