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|Eleuthera: A New Beginning|
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|Posted by:||Dec 7th 2004, 12:18:28 pm|
|Fig Tree News Team||A new beginning for Eleuthera
A new beginning for The Bahamas
By Monique P. Smith
November 18, 2004, Rock Sound, Eleuthera – It’s fitting that the island known as the “Birthplace of the Bahamas” is now being reborn. One week after the official signing of the Heads of Agreement with the Government of The Bahamas, Eleuthera Properties Limited (EPL), on the evening of Wednesday, November 17, 2004, hosted a cocktail reception at the Four Points Restaurant in Rock Sound, Eleuthera to introduce **SeaShells at Cotton Bay** its new 1,500 acre resort community development, to the local community. Not only does this development mean revitalization for the economy of the island of Eleuthera, it marks for the first time ever, that a majority Bahamian-funded and managed group has undertaken an investment initiative of this magnitude.
Mr. T. Albert Sands, a native of Rock Sound, Eleuthera, serves as President and Member of the Board of Directors of EPL. In his address to an enthusiastic and captivated audience, Mr. Sands reflected on the challenges that have, up to this point, left the island of Eleuthera bereft of sustainable economic stability. Mr. Sands spoke of investment of the American entrepreneur, Arthur Vining Davis of ALCOA Aluminum, and his subsequent introduction of Juan Trippe, Founder and Chairman of Pan American to the island of Eleuthera. Trippe would go on to become the Founder of the legendary Cotton Bay Club.
In 1952, the island of Eleuthera was poised for economic boom with A V Davis’ plan to construct a 300 room hotel in an area called Half Sound. Plans were drawn and approved, equipment and manpower were mobilized, with Higgs & Hill Construction Company of the UK ready to commence construction. But, then one day the beehive of activity came to a grinding halt, as the government of the day did not approve the new hotel, as it was viewed that the island of Eleuthera was developing at a pace ahead of New Providence. A V Davis soon after sold his holding to Juan Trippe, and it was under his leadership that Eleuthera came into its own, and became the playground of the rich and famous. The construction of the Cotton Bay Club in 1959 saw the airport at Rock Sound being serviced daily with Boeing 707 and 727 aircraft, from the US mainland, marking the most notable achievement in air transportation to an out island for that period. In fact, the airport at Rock Sound received US pre-clearance, even before Grand Bahama.
In 1986, EPL entered into negotiations to acquire the holdings of South Eleuthera Properties and the Cotton Bay Club, the group’s objective being to create the finest resort facilities and communities, and in so doing, create a world-class destination for discerning travelers. In 1992, this group made a gallant effort to revitalize the economy of Eleuthera, however, its initiative was not supported by the government of the day. EPL then sold some its holdings to another entrepreneur, whom it felt possessed access to the financial resources and expertise to reverse the local economic trend. Again, the government of that time did not grant favour to that group, and the island of Eleuthera slipped deeper and deeper into depression.
However, a new day has dawned for Eleuthera, particularly South Eleuthera. Mr. Sands likened this new undertaking to South Eleutherans being invited to a grand banquet, with the finest to eat and drink and with a place set for all. Each individual though, must earn his rightful spot at the table, as mediocrity, low standards, slothfulness, dishonesty and poor performance have no place in Eleuthera Properties Ltd and its developments. He said that the people of South Eleuthera and EPL must partner to achieve the success of this new venture and to ensure the economic viability of South Eleuthera.
The Director of Operations, Mr. Wim Steenbakkers, expounded on the features of the 220 acre first phase of the development. He highlighted that the resort residential community will comprise 114 estate lots, with choices of Beachfront, Ocean view, Caribbean view, Ocean and Caribbean view as well as interior lots, varying in size from 2/3 of acre to 1½ acres and a 69 room boutique hotel, based on a villa concept, reminiscent of the old Cotton Bay Club, and a grand club house. He noted that February 2005 is the anticipated start for construction of the club house.
He reaffirmed Mr. Sands’ comments by stating that EPL was committed to partnering with the local community in respect to offering assistance to those within the community who possess an entrepreneurial spirit, who wish to start their own businesses, by conducting classes on preparing business plans at the Preston H. Albury High School in Rock Sound, or offering whatever assistance needed to those persons. In addition, Mr. Steenbakkers commented on EPL’s hiring and reliance on Bahamian professionals in various fields to support the project, stressing that the greatest impact this project will have on the local community will be the creation of 100 – 300 jobs over the next five years. Most importantly opportunities will be created for those native Eleutherans who over the years have moved away to return to make a positive contribution to their island home. Mr. Steenbakkers noted that one of the shortcomings of South Eleuthera is the lack of tourism infrastructure, therefore, opportunities will exist to alleviate the needs in that regard.
Also on hand at the event was the Speaker of the House of Assembly and South Eleuthera Member of Parliament, the Hon. J. Oswald Ingraham who also gave remarks, extending his confidence in the EPL team and its efforts in South Eleuthera.
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