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The Nassau Guardian
May 25, 2005
Biminites have always been fiercely independent and a closely knit community. Politically, they are known to have very strong views that sometimes divide them along party lines - in some cases, with brother and sister and husband and wife being on the opposite side of the political divide - but when it comes to what's in the best interest of the island, no matter what their political affiliation may be, Biminites close ranks and do what they perceive to be in the best interest of Bimini. If developer Gerardo Capo was not aware of this fact, he certainly is now.
Indeed, the citizenry of that tiny island sent Mr. Capo a strong message that they will not allow him to trample on their rights as Bahamians in general and as residents of Bimini in particular.
At issue is the multimillion dollar Bimini Bay project that Mr. Capo is developing in North Bimini. On Monday, residents of the island staged a massive protest to publicly voice their concerns about the project. Among other things, they claim that a gate that has been erected denies them access to five miles of the seven-mile long island, which is only slightly over a quarter of a mile wide at its widest point. Noting that the last census recorded Bimini as having 1,600-plus residents, Bimini District Chief Councillor Tasha Bullard-Rolle, one of the leaders of the demonstration, made this observation: "You are talking about confining about 1,600 residents to a two-mile space and a growing population. Where are we suppose to go if we are denied access to the additional five miles?"
Another concern of residents is the environmental impact of the project on the island, a concern that is shared by environmentalists around the world, based on the huge volume of e-mails received by this newspaper over the past several months, some from as far away as Czechoslovakia and Australia. They all express the general view that the project represents an ecological disaster that "wreaks havoc on the ecosystem of the island."
Voicing his concern, Bimini District Council Member Lloyd "Duda" Edgecombe said Mr. Capo promised Biminites that his project would be environmentally friendly, but then he turned and used his bulldozer and backhoe to destroy large numbers of mangroves, dug up the seafloor and silted the entire North Bimini Lagoon with dredge effluent."
Obviously, this is not a political issue as far as Biminites are concerned. Indeed, Mr. Capo signed the agreement to construct the Bimini Bay Hotel, Marina and Casino with the former Free National Movement Government. The original project was scaled down considerably, and a new Heads of Agreement was signed by the current Government.
So the onus is now on the current Government to provide the people of Bimini with answers to the questions raised by Chief Councillor Bullard-Rolle and the demonstrators; otherwise, Mrs. Bullard-Rolle promises that the demonstrations shall continue. And they should until all the concerns of residents of the island are addressed.
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