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2004-12-20 09:20:23

Residents' Bid To Stop Development And Save Island

The group is against the project because they feel it will destroy the reef and the ecosystem surrounding Abaco.

WITH just over two weeks before construction of the Passerine Development Project is scheduled to begin on Great Guana Cay in Abaco, residents there are urging Bahamians to join them in their fight to "save" the island.

In an open letter to The Tribune, one member of the Save Guana Cay group, said the time has come for all Bahamian residents to prevent the development from taking place. Initial proposals are for construction to begin on January 1.

The group is against the project, which if completed would include an eighteen-hole golf course, hundreds of homes and a 240-slip marina requiring a man-made harbour, because they feel it will destroy the reef and eco-system surrounding Abaco.

"One of the world's oldest living inhabitants (the barrier reef) has been convicted of excessive beauty and the ability to generate large profits for a selected few," it said.

The letter claimed that while the country was distracted by the devastation of Hurricanes Jeanne and Frances, "the passage of this massive development was slipped into the agenda of the future plan for Abaco."

"The verdict is in and the death warrant has been signed. The method of execution is slow drip lethal execution. The reef is scheduled to die. Along with this development will come the certain destruction of a pristine natural wonder that runs along the entire eastern shore of Abaco."

According to the letter, golf course construction and maintenance will provide the most destructive punch to the surrounding eco-system. "Huge doses of chemicals will become routine in their application. Even though the developer claims they will use organic chemicals, these chemicals have destructive effect on the surrounding air and marine environments. High nutrient load whether it is organic or not is poisonous for the reef."

In addition, the letter said the proposed homes will more than double the island's residential problems increasing the stress load on utilities and the island's waste management systems.

As for the proposed marina, the letter said that even Nassau and Grand Bahama cannot compete with the 240 slips being planned. Atlantis has 63-slips and Old Bahama Bay at West End has 72.

"Even treated, sewerage and brackish water runoff from the watermarks in these large quantities will destroy the reef. Furthermore, there have been no guarantees made for clean up of fuel and oil spills in this massive facility."

The group is urging Bahamians to ask Prime Minister Perry Christie to prevent the building of the new development.

The group says that it is not against development - "We just expect it to be environmentally sustainable, at a slower pace, and for the Bahamian people to benefit."

They are asking all citizens who feel the same way to send open letters to the media, the Prime Minister, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries V. Alfred Gray, Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe and to the BEST commission. Persons can also add their names to the Save Guana Cay petition.

The Tribune was unable to contact the Passerine Development Project yesterday.

Source: Cara Brennen, The Tribune

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