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Harbour Island: Foreign or Bahamian?
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Page 1 of 1Total of 15 messages
Posted by:Oct 23rd 2005, 10:20:30 am
MaddieNo stinky wet stuff from me, just sunshine and soft breezes for someone so wise.
Posted by:Oct 23rd 2005, 04:42:39 am
Fig Tree News TeamBob Knaus sent this in:

"Let me step into my foulies, and slap a big yellow sou'wester on my head because what I have to say will likely get stinky wet stuff thrown at me.

"Saving the reef" is a weak argument for stopping the development on Guana or Harbour Island. You can duke it out in court, but the best you can hope for is a "mitigation plan" following "best practices" within the limitations of "practicality." It won't stop the development. And it won't do very much to stop the nutrient loading.

"Exposing government corruption" is an even weaker argument. Sure, it's a tremendously exciting thing to do, and it will certainly yield long-term results if you keep up the drumbeat. But in the short term, is it likely the present administration will see the light in time to stop the development?

The real problem is lack of true local government in the Bahamas. If the central government is the one making local development decisions, then whether it is corrupt or not, the decisions will always reflect national priorities rather than local ones.

The solution is locally elected planning and zoning commissions with the final say-so on local development. If the Abacos or Eleuthera had one of those, the development on Guana and Briland wouldn't be happening, at least not in its present form. Whatever did occur would reflect the democratic will of the people who have to live with the outcome.

I really hate to say this but I see the probability of blocking these developments as very low. Keep trying, maybe it will happen! But more likely, the best outcome we can hope for is this being the spark for a major governmental reform in the Bahamas."
Posted by:Oct 16th 2005, 01:15:50 am
KimberlyFor what it's worth, active efforts on the part of both local government and private citizens have been underway for the past year to protect Harbour Island from exactly the overdevelopment, exhaustion of available resources currently underway.

The Antiquities Commission and Bahamas National Trust in Nassau mean quite well, but have ** despite several visits to Harbour Island and North Eleuthera to log national sites of interest et al. ** been unable to efficiently jumpstart the overall effort to set aside certain parts of Harbour Island as a historic district, and parts of our harbour and oceanside as protected sea park areas. Both Nassau groups have been immensely accessible and generous with their time.

A few of the ongoing issues:

Local fishermen and other concerned Brilanders continue to report events of shark-finning off Harbour Island, fishing at protected spawning areas off Harbour Island and North Eleuthera, removal of Arawak artifacts from sites on Eleuthera by private businessmen, commercial and private fishing at SCUBA sites "protected" by the Bahamas National Trust (i.e. sites like the Arch and the Plateau which are regularly fished by a few locals and foreigners and are, as a result, deteriorating from a lack of fish and a proliferation of monofilament line and lead sinkers, with 'protection' proving non-existent so far).

The continued illegal dredging of private marinas for personal use within Harbour Island's small harbour, the bombing of part of the fragile Girls Bank ecosystem to create a private beach, houses that continue to be built against code, and the ongoing lack of appropriate wastewater treatment processing at either commercial marina off Harbour Island are of primary concern as well.

Bahamas National Trust is not fully engaged in the effort at the present time, given the relatively recent change in leadership and their limited resources, and the Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries is apparently swamped on other projects as they have yet to respond. All efforts appear at present to be stuck at the "Act of Parliament" stage.
Posted by:Oct 14th 2005, 11:49:03 pm
BrilandkidI have monitored this post for the simple reason, to see if there is more courage in Briland, I know there is a few, but some have given up the manhood and womanhood and replaced it by ignorance, arrogance, bitterness and greed. This has left them sitting like God left the goat on the rock hopeless and helpless, They do not want to admit it but they are a sorry bunch, But what can I say some have inherited it and some got a double dose. The will cause their children to reap what they sow in threefold.

Better learn to get along and pull together or you will loose this Little Island, canít sell to the developers the commonage Land on North Elethera yet. But some of the greedy ones will find a way.

I am still stuck on Briland cause it is too Sweet!!!
Posted by:Oct 13th 2005, 01:57:32 pm
smittyRight on, Richard P. The best input I've read on the subject.If you need another comparison, take a look at Sanibel Island on the Gulf coast of Florida and compare it now to what it was a scant 25 years ago.The list goes on.
Posted by:Oct 12th 2005, 09:03:44 pm
Richard PThere are always two sides to the coin. Development is inevitable. I believe the Bahamians can have the best of both worlds but NOW is the time to manage what is no doubt going to happen on the island. Here in SC, our coast has been utterly destroyed by developers. The same is true all along the eastern seaboard. Thirty years ago I spent the summer at Kiawah Island planting markers for an aerial environmental survey. There was only one house on the entire island. Today, I doubt if you could find a piece of undeveloped land even big enough to accommodate one of those markers. The Bahamian government needs to create a 'growth' plan and pass laws restricting development and creating areas that will always be beautiful and always protected. Also, they need to manage future developments by implementing stringent zoning requirements with laws to enforce them. Otherwise, it's just a matter of time before Eleuthera looks like all of the ugly overbuilt areas that developers have gotten their fat fingers on in the US. What scares me is that because the Bahamians have not yet seen what can happen, they may not plan for what can ultimately be the demise of their paradise. It's a nice thought that Eleuthera will stand still and forever be a wonderful secluded paradise. I think we all know that that that's a dream. The government's first priority should be protecting the Bahamas to ensure the preservation of the Bahamian culture and livelihood and not sell out to money hungry developers no matter where they're from. And I hope to God they outlaw vinyl siding!
Posted by:Oct 12th 2005, 12:48:26 am
BrilandkidTo all you visiting friends and our extended families our winter guest. I thank you from the bottom of my heart that you've had the courage to respond
In such a positive way. I appreciate that you care enough to respond in bringing light to my people. Being so kind as to inform them that what we in the Bahamas have is more precious than king Solomonís Gold, It is our home our country and to misuse it and we loose it forever. I Do not think that some of us Bahamian people really comprehend the severity of a damaging impact to this fragile eco system will do, if they continue the path they are heading. This eco system is what sustains us, damage this system, will ultimately kill any chance for our children survival, thus end of the road like the arawak Indians, history book next stop for the Bahamian people. Thanks friends and guest again for helping me to shake and wake them. My agenda and the position I seek is the watchman. As the watchman Ií am ringing out a warning. As the watchman I am traveling from the East to west. This is also says Ií am giving an early warning. I wish to see more of my Bahamian brothers and sisters wake up and join the awaken. I wish to see more of you respond and in a big way. You may start by speaking out on this Briland forum in support of preserving our only home, the Bahamas we love. Do you have the courage, letís see you standing then. Again thanks for standing.

Posted by:Oct 11th 2005, 02:33:58 pm
ColinDevelopment can occur at a popular location and it can be extremely lucrative and it can be attractive and environmentally attractive.

But -- and you knew that was coming -- it takes several things.
One, local government must be convinced, bullied, threatened (in nice ways) so it understands what is at stake and what taxpayers and investors want.
Two, the national government must be made aware of the environmental and long-term cultural impact of such development. It must also be convinced etc that deciding against local sentiment is sufficiently powerful (read painful if you do the wrong thing) or right that it must act.
Three, island states have a particular challenge. There isn't anywhere to go. Screw it up and that's it. Your island is ruined for a long time.
A number of the southern Caribbean islands have done pretty well. Antilles comes to mind, along with a host of smaller islands. They decided to resist mass tourism and opted for the upper end of the market to preserve what they have.
Briland lacks water. Briland lacks sewage capacity. Briland has a fragile fabulous bay and gorgeous reefs surrounding it.
These cannot be subjected to much human waste (something you get especially from docked yachts).
But Briland isn't my home, though I've loved it like my own for a long time.
It's up to ordinary Brilanders and those who live in the Family Islands to protect their patrimony.
Hold protests. Write letters to your MPs and to the American and Bahamian papers.
Come up with a vision. Do you want Briland to serve large numbers of tourists who visit for very short periods and have very big negative impacts on all the things that make Briland so fabulous or do you want relatively small numbers of wealthier visitors who stay for longer periods of time and come back again and again.
In the short term, it sounds as if the only hope for stopping this new develpment is to rouse the national government and demonstrate the environmental harm that would result from the docks themselves and the visiting yachts.
I used to swim right in front of the fig tree. I hope my five year old gets the chance to do it without endangering his health.
Good luck.
Posted by:Oct 11th 2005, 01:29:54 pm
Blue EyesI just viewed the photos of Mr. Malcolm...this is horrible! The most beautiful water/ocean in the world is being destroyed while developers reap rewards and fill their pockects!This is sad to see the Island's natural beauty and resources being destroyed by greed. Please pay attention...control/stop this developing before it is too late to reverse the damage. There is a price to be paid for all this developing, and it will leave H.I. decimated with no future...generations will pay for the bad decisions made now!
Posted by:Oct 5th 2005, 11:14:20 pm
KimberlyWell, you'd best stick to Staniel or Norman's Cay, then, as there's a Four Seasons in Great Exuma now. Man oh man ...
Posted by:Oct 5th 2005, 10:39:36 pm
snowyWhats next? Cruise ships? We have been coming to HI for 10 years and have decided to try something else this year...something not so popular and busy....the exumas!!
Posted by:Oct 5th 2005, 01:18:25 pm
EllenI hope ya'll get a handle on the harbour situation. We live on Pine Island in West FL. For the last year the "water managers" have dumped millions of gallons of water from Lake Okeechobee towards the east and west. The blue green toxic algae has developed on the river and it is unsafe to get into the water. Today's News-Press has an article on the 4 carcinic (sp?) and one liver damaging herbicides that have been discovered in the river on a regular basis. Development, agriculture and sugar cane farmers are the main culprits. We have had a red tide bloom offshore since Jan 3rd (yea 9 full months). If you go to the beach it is littered with dead fish and sea creatures. Smells great, huh. We are planning our escape from here ASAP. Please keep in mind that the poisonous water flowed EAST towards the Bahamas from the St Lucie canal and West down the Caloosahatchee. I am hoping none of this runoff has reached your shores.
Posted by:Oct 4th 2005, 11:32:22 pm
KimberlyGiven what property prices have become here, though, it must be so tempting for existing Bahamian landowners to sell it off to the highest bidder.

How do we temper the situation for the long-term good of the island?
Posted by:Oct 4th 2005, 11:06:13 pm
BrilandkidThank you fig tree news team. My sentiments exactly. Why in the world if you live in the USA you would go the trouble getting a passport getting on a tiny airplane and risk a trip to Harbour Island Bahamas to see an extension of the Florida keys Duh, Duh!. I hope we all wake from the sick nightmare. Let the Briland be in the Bahamas not a Florida key look alike. Let it Briland!!! Finally It is only greed that fuels that fire. But there will be future laws written to regulate the greedy SOBĎs, guaranteed.
Posted by:Oct 4th 2005, 10:02:23 pm
Fig Tree News TeamLadies and gentlemen:

On September 16, 2005 the divided Harbour Island Town Council approved, by one vote, the latest request for another Miami-style foreign condominium project on the island. Application for a marina facility, as part of this project, has yet to be entertained but will be. This brings to four (4) the number of marinas in varying stages and to three (3) the number of condo developments also in varying stages. All are foreign and look as though they were transplanted from South Florida. Harbour Island is one and one half (1 1/2) square miles in size !

The developer of this most recent and controversial venture, either by luck or design, was able to have his building approvals done locally, as opposed to being sent to Nassau for consideration. This was due to the fact the building applications were submitted piece piece over a period of time, and no one application exceeded the size or expense levels required to have to go to Nassau.

This development is to be in the midst of a residential neighbourhood of private single family dwellings consisting of Bahamian and Expat homeowners. These owners made formal objection at a hearing. Some voiced their protests on their own, some through an attorney so engaged to match articulation ability with the always present (in these matters) foreign-representing attorney. All was to no avail and once again Bahamian concerns were left at the side of the road.

There continues much debate over the question of more development at Harbour Island period. This is especially so as concerns foreign projects of this nature which, to a great extent, is viewed as a one way exit trip for the profits reaped. However other factors enter into this, one of which is the question of the style of these condos being appropriate or not for the Family Island atmosphere. Another is that little room seems to be left for Bahamian entrepreneurs to have success considering that the foreign businesses have managed to attract all or most of the potential spending money on the island. Many Brilanders might well do nicely with less of this saturation.

Why can not the Family Islands remain Bahamian in its business environment? Why is it we have to mimic developments that look and are so much like those in Florida? Are we, as part of the Family Island portion of our Nation, giving in to becoming a suburb of Miami/Ft Lauderdale ?

The success and popularity gained to date in the Family Islands comes because of our special Bahamian atmosphere. This includes, in part, our old world charm and architecture, very friendly and easy going people and a refreshing simple sophistication toward business. This is then backed up with personal relationships with our 85% or so annually repeating visitors, algae-free shorelines and beaches, and superb fishing and boating.

Ironically this "popularity" is what got the attention of the foreign developers in the first place. Harbour Island was just awarded "BEST" island status by Travel & Leisure Magazine. It seems ludicrous that this status should now run the risk of being buried.

Two of the three locales of these projects are the sites of former full service resort hotels. Both Romora Bay Club and Valentines Resort employed 40 or 50 Bahamians each when operating. Each had fully-staffed hotel departments such as kitchen and dining room, beverage service, yard maintenance, housekeeping, engineering, office and front desk andmanagement (Bahamian). All guests arrived and departed from our airport at North Eleuthera. An entire industry of land and water taxis from Harbour Island and Eleuthera developed over the years to service these visitors.

Now enter a possible four marinas. (We already have two large ones operating.) The increased number of yachts arrive directly at the island, circumventing need for the land and water taxis. The yachts are the accommodation facilities for those on board, so no hotels needed. Most take many of their meals on board, and have foreign serving staff as part of their crew, reducing the need for restaurants and Bahamian serving staff on the island. In all cases their beverage cabinets are well stocked prior to arrival, reducing business at local Bahamian owned wholesale and retail liquor outlets.

Now the condominimum villages. One is already taking up the ground of a former full service resort hotel that employed many Bahamians. One more, when built, will do likewise at another former resort hotel site. By their very nature the condo villages do not provide the amount of employment or the amount of tourist dollar flow resort hotels do.

Between the marinas and the condos we have for Harbour Island: minimal additional employment locally: minimal dollars staying here; maximum dollars leaving the country in the pockets of foreigners: maximum necessary addition to the already overcrowded streets with traffic gridlock: and maximum chance of ruining the charm of an island that was just selected NUMBER ONE in great part due to what it is and has been, not what it is becoming.

The negative environmental concerns are awesome, and deserve complete and separate attention. Suffice to say that with only two marinas in completed operation and the other continuing development along the harbour shoreline the past few years, the present state is already disastrous. The harbour front is a sea of algae. Some floating, some growing on the bottom. No more do children swim in the harbour, it is too disgusting. The yachts at both present marinas dump their waste tanks directly into the harbour. While we hear of planned better arrangements, to date nothing has improved.

One can not imagine what happens with more development to come.

We have in this country all the natural God-given requirements, including the people, to make full-service resorts work in the Family Islands. Resort success has been proven time and time again, and not the least of that in Harbour Island. Why are we letting all this slip away in favor of the Miami-style condos and marinas?

Central and South ELEUTHERA has not been as fortunate as Harbour Island.

Many from that mainland come here daily to work. If more development of any type had been directed to Eleuthera and resort hotels encouraged here instead of these stagnant condo projects, more employment could be offered all around. There is a realistic possibility that these resorts could be Bahamian-backed and owned. Certainly Ma Ruby at Tingum Village has pioneered the way and now that basic approach could be easily brought into meet with the times. Nevil Major is working hard at making his place a success and of course the famous Runaway Hill Club was Bahamian financed-and-owned and as hard as many here tried to keep it that way, is now foreign-owned.

It can be done and should be done, but what Bahamian in his right mind would risk the attempt, with all so sewed up and saturated by foreigners?

Harbour Island is presently not under Bahamian control. Bahamians here are being controlled. This is not to minimize the importance of foreign investment and concerns. We could not exist without our 225 or so foreign-owned houses, each employing an average of 1.5 Bahamians full time. Certainly the steadfast remaining three full service resorts that are foreign-owned provide many jobs and flowing tourist dollars as well.

However enough is enough. Letís try to redirect what may be left for Bahamian advantage, to try to provide for our people to become something other than be unable to go beyond the servant level.

As number one "Best Island," it is obvious that practical business intuition direct the powers to be to keep Briland the way it has been. This island has such a mega-economy and the industry here is so complex and complicated that professional administration is required to attain and maintain its golden goose status. Harbour Island could easily be the stereotype destination that Tourism's Public Relations people like to flaunt, but not until it is appreciated that as things stand now the guiding assistance
has not been made available to us.

Richard Malcolm
Harbour Island
October 3, 2005

Richard's photo essay of the harbour in crisis can be viewed online at

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