Friday deadline to accommodate travelling ministers
When Cabinet meets on Friday, the debate on who will receive the rights to break ground at Lighthouse Point will finally be put to rest, according to Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, who spoke with Eyewitness News late last night.
The prime minister said the delay of the decision was because several Cabinet ministers are out of town and expressed a desire to participate in the process.
Dr. Minnis said that in order to give everyone a fair opportunity to contribute to the final outcome, he decided to hold a special Cabinet meeting on Friday and committed to making an announcement immediately following that session.
The nation’s chief told Eleuthera residents at a town meeting that a decision would come this week. Since then, Eleuthera residents, the two companies vying for approval from the government – Disney and The Lighthouse Point Partners, environmentalists and anyone interested in the proposed Lighthouse Point Development are anxiously waiting to hear who will receive the green light.
Cabinet would have met on Tuesday and the House of Assembly resumes business today, therefore many are eager to find out if approval would be given to the Lighthouse Point Partnership or to Disney.
Disney has proposed creating a cruise destination at Lighthouse Point.
The Lighthouse Point Partners (LPP), on the other hand, wants to develop 800 acres of land that make up Lighthouse Point in South Eleuthera. The latter wants to preserve Lighthouse Point in perpetuity as a pristine natural and cultural resource for generations of Eleutherans.
The Lighthouse Point Partners, who presented its sustainable development plan to the prime minister earlier this week on October 12, includes Bahamas National Trust, the Leon Levy Foundation, the One Eleuthera Foundation and the Island School.
The sustainable development plan of the Lighthouse Point Partners is estimated to create 190 new, full-time and year-round permanent jobs for local residents, amounting to $7.7 million in earnings annually.
The LPP said its proposal will offer wages estimated to be 270 per cent higher than the minimum wage for permanent, high calibre, seven-day-a-week jobs.
The Partners said there would be immediate construction jobs, plus economic benefits, 116 person-years of work in site preparation and construction, amounting to $11.25 million in earnings, plus $16.9 million in related economic output, and a $14.3 million one-time GDP increase.
According to the LLP, its Sustainable Development Plan’s low-intensity, but the full-time programme actually produces more jobs and creates significantly greater long-term public benefit that can weather economic cycles for the local community, and The Bahamas as a whole, better than competing plans.
The 800 acres of land that comprises Lighthouse Point is currently on the market for sale.
The Lighthouse Point Partners said they have an unprecedented opportunity to secure Lighthouse Point and protect it for Bahamians and future generations
Meanwhile, for months, the plans of both companies have grabbed headlines with various environmental groups and non-governmental organizations such as Re-Earth Bahamas, the Bahamas National Trust (BNT), Save the Bays and the One Eleuthera Foundation, railing against the proposed development to sell the privately-owned land to Disney, claiming that a cruise port will decimate the environment.
A recent poll conducted by Public Domain of 994 households across the country, revealed that of the 994 individuals polled, 235 individuals or 38 per cent – 311 males and 310 females, were “very much” in support of the development, while 161 individuals, some 26 per cent, did not support the cruise initiative.
A recent town meeting held last week in Eleuthera saw an overwhelming support shown by residents in favour of the Disney project, but despite the promotional efforts, arguments, claims, complaints and polls, a decision rests solely in the hands of the Government.