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The Nassau Guardian
Bimini Bay project under fire again
By Keva Lightbourne
December 8, 2004
Almost six months after the government gave its approval to a drastically scaled-back Bimini Bay Development project, an international environmental group wants the enterprise stopped altogether. After complaints were raised, in particular that the dredging of a channel on North Bimini would adversely affect the livelihood of Bimini businesspersons and other residents, the project was scaled back by as much as 50 percent.
Despite this, however, the Mangrove Action Project, based in Port Angeles, Washington, said the island's mangroves will be devastated. In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Perry Christie, that appeared in the Monday edition of this newspaper, the Mangrove Action Project (MAP), headed by one Alfredo Quarto called on the government to "take steps to halt the further loss to this important and beautiful place, which will otherwise be further degraded and destroyed by this extremely shortsighted and unsustainable development plan."
In June, the government signed an amended five-year agreement with RAV Bahamas Ltd. headed by Gerardo Capo, for the construction of a 410 room hotel, 1,080 condos and single-family homes, 200 timeshare units, a casino, restaurants, fitness centre, golf course and first class marina and other amenities.
According to Mr. Quarto, the golf course will be built on what is now mangrove wetland adjacent to North Sound, which will be dredged and the sea bottom destroyed. Additionally, he said, "The surrounding land will be scarified and filled. Also there is no adequate plan for disposing of the solid waste or sewage that so many residents will generate and no plan to prevent golf course fertilizer runoff from entering the remaining natural areas."
The Guardian contacted the lawyer for Mr. Capo and the development, Valentine Grimes but was unable to receive a response to the concerns. However, when the agreement was signed, the 700-acre development was said to be "economically viable and environmentally sustainable," as it was in keeping with the government's commitment to protecting the island's environs and natural resources.
In March, Ambassador for the Environment Keod Smith, hailed the venture as a possible blueprint for other developments in the country. The first agreement signed in July 1997 by the Free National Movement Government called for the construction of 930 hotel rooms, 3,500 condos and 611 single family homes. Some residents still against
But that sparked an island-wide controversy, with residents and environmental groups calling for the project to be shelved. They claimed the project caused serious environmental and ecological damage to the island, and fishermen believed that dredging for the project resulted in a serious decline in conch, lobster and crawfish. On Tuesday during a brief telephone interview North Bimini Chief Councilor Brenda Bullard confirmed that some residents were still in opposition to the project.
The Mangrove Action Project deemed the development a "disaster waiting to happen".
MAP is dedicated to reversing the degradation of mangrove forest ecosystems worldwide. Its central tenet is to promote the rights of local coastal peoples, including fishers and farmers, in the sustainable management of coastal environs.
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