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Bahamas Commentary: Briland Still Sweet?
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Page 1 of 1Total of 2 messages
Posted by:Jun 20th 2005, 06:10:31 pm
beacherRapid development seems to be a universal problem. I live in a small coastal area in North Carolina, an area very similar to Harbour Island. We have visited you slice of heaven several times in the past few years. We are experiencing the same growth/infrastructure issues here. Beyond that there are problems related to increased taxes directly related to the increased tax values. Properties purchased 10 years ago for 300,000.00 are now worth several million. Folks are forced to sell rather than pay taxes.
Just wanted to let you know that you are not alone!
Posted by:Jun 14th 2005, 12:04:12 pm
Fig Tree News TeamJune 14, 2005 10:28
Briland Still Sweet?
Despite the euphoric atmosphere existing on Briland, all is not well in paradise.

Much has been said in recent times about the chaotic development on some of our Bahama islands. Harbour Island affectionately referred to as "Briland" is no exception. Briland for some time now has been enjoying an unprecedented rate of development to the extent that concerns are being voiced about such a rapid rate of expansion. Being only one and a half square mile in size, approximately the size of Paradise Island, it is just a matter of time before the natural equilibrium of the island is thrown off balance and all hell will literally break loose.

Already, the rate of development is outpacing the infrastructure development. Frustrating experiences with outages or lack of basic services are a common occurrence. However, this inconvenience is no discouragement for those who continue to flock and return to this sweet little island. It doesn't matter if you are a member of the rich and famous, or a movie star, or a famous politician, or CEO of a fortune 500 company or a Bahamian from East Street, just a few minutes of this hedonistic lifestyle, before you know it you are saying "Briland Sweet

There is something about Briland that will seduce or intoxicate you. Briland will put you in a hypnotic trance as this island paradise welcomes you with impressive hospitality. Certainly, Briland boast the friendliest people in the Bahamas with everyone smiling and greeting you on the streets, or offering you a ride on their golf cart. No one is a stranger on Briland for long. But, Briland's greatest treasure is the Pink Sand beach, that slice of heaven that some say fell from the skies. The Pink Sands beach has been designated one of the best beaches in the world. Some come here simply to meditate amidst this serene tranquility. Others like myself are intoxicated by the spirituality of an early morning swim and riding those white-foamed waves at sunrise. It just doesn't get any better than this!

For decades, Briland has been the playground for the rich and famous, a well guarded secret. In 1995, the Ministry of Tourism finally opened an office in Briland and for the first time, Briland was being promoted other than by word of mouth. Today, on a daily basis, hundreds are brought to the island on crafts such as the fast ferry, "Bohengy". With such convenient transportation to Briland, it is now possible for literally anyone to visit Briland. This mass production or assembly line nowadays into Briland is viewed by some as a problem. The isolation and the unique charms of Briland undoubtedly are interrupted by this massive invasion of bodies that we see nowadays visiting Briland. On such a small island, clearly this overcrowding can easily lead to tension. Briland is fast becoming a victim of its own success. It appears that Briland's popularity will lead to its peril!.

On August 23rd, 1992, hurricane Andrew smashed into Briland with a devastating blow. Many of the "experts" forecasted that as we knew it, Briland was finished. So massive was the damage that even the most optimistic opinions indicated that it would take years to restore. Hundreds of persons came to Briland to assist with the reconstruction. Many of these persons choose to remain in Briland after the construction for the same reasons why so many come to Briland. With hotels such as the Pink Sands being rehabilitated under the new ownership of music mogul Chris Blackwell, Briland surprised the world as a new era for Briland tourism was ushered in with the resultant boom.

Despite the euphoric atmosphere existing on Briland, all is not well in paradise. Briland is fast becoming one of the most densely populated islands in the Bahamas. Such overcrowding in any society is bound to produce problems. This is especially frustrating for the native Brilanders as they continue to witness an influx of outsiders or "seaweed" that are flocking to the island with their own ideas and ways. The perception appears to be one of "its them against us!". The outsiders come with megabucks and in an arena with the price of Real Estate skyrocketing, the natives are at a serious disadvantage. What is also regrettable is the fact that too many Brilanders are willing to sell their heritage if the price is right. Consequently, a number of the old historical buildings have been destroyed and a part of Briland's history is lost.

The perception is also one of an existing double standard as the outsiders are accommodated and the Brilanders are denied. For example, a couple of years ago, a black Briland female applied for a license to open a Restaurant and Bar. It was refused because of the proximity to the Methodist church, some fifty yards away. On the other hand, a business with the same facility across the street from St John's Anglican was allowed. Even more incredible was the fact that another business with a similar facility that extended onto some of the premises previously owned by the Catholic Church was allowed without any protest. There appears to be a double standard, one for the native Brilanders and one for the Seaweeds!" On an island where opportunities are limited for the natives, this type of negative situation creates the development of bad blood between the natives and outsiders.

Recently, concerns were voiced over the magnitude of the construction of Valentines Resort. Up until now, there had been no serious challenge to its construction. However, with the Romora Bay Club also conducting a similar expansion, people are now seriously questioning whether developments are getting out of hand. Yes, Briland serves as a major source of employment and economical activity for Eleuthera, Brilanders are now questioning whether they are approaching their limit.

To make matters worse, both of these resorts are constructing large marinas. The fact is that people who come to Briland in their yachts, do not live in the hotel rooms. Government therefore will not collect any nightly hotel room tax from them. They bring their own food and liquor, dump their waste directly into the sea, bring in guns and other contrabands and pollute our waters. At least one fisherman has complained to me the fact that these same boats go the fishing grounds that they fish and also may compete with them by soliciting the same jobs that may have gone to the local Briland fishing guides. Where then is the benefit to justify the construction of these large marinas on Briland? In addition, the government must commit additional resources to provide full time Customs and Immigration services to monitor and regulate marine activity in Harbour Island harbour. It will also be a good idea to have a marine police patrol as well.

One bright spot for the future of Brilanders is the Harbour Island Commonage, an area occupying several thousand acres of land on the mainland of North Eleuthera. Comparatively, the Commonage is several times larger than Briland and for many Brilanders, it represents a promising future. Regrettably, little assistance and encouragement has been provided by the government so far. This is in spite of the fact that the Commonage Committee has been making a serious effort to survey and develop a subdivision on the Commonage. This will provide great relief for those entitled Brilanders who may no longer be able to afford a residence on Briland.

The Bahama Journal
Dr. Leatendore Percentie, D.D.S
Boston, Massachusetts
June 3rd, 2005

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