Prime Minister The Rt. Honourable Hubert A. Ingraham M.P.
Sir Cecile Wallace Whitfield Centre, P.O. Box CB 10980, West Bay Street, New Providence, The Bahamas
March 11, 2008
Re: Concerns regarding the impact of the Albany development
Dear Prime Minister Ingraham,
During the election campaign, we were constantly told that an FNM government would restore TRUST in government.
With those words in mind, we attended the meetings held at St. Paul’s Hall in Lyford Cay regarding the Park Ridge Securities Corporation / Tiger Woods / Ernie Els Albany and the New South Ocean projects. We were repeatedly assured by Minister of Works Earl Deveaux that the concerns tabled in those meetings would be taken into consideration when making decisions on how to proceed with these particular developments. We were made to believe that we were not wasting our time, that we could TRUST that our concerns would make a difference and alter the scope of the project.
Why is it, then, that the issues raised regarding beach access, beach erosion, allowing public lands to be purchased for private profit, water use, energy use, waste management, road diversion, deforestation, impacts to coral reefs, impacts to New Providence’s largest fresh water table, beach nourishment, impact to home owners, just to name a few of the subjects covered, have been essentially ignored?
Why is it that in the Albany Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the BEST Commission states that their 150ft wide (45.72 meters) canal site is inappropriate and yet the government is allowing them to proceed? (The Panama Canal locks are only 33 meters wide, about 110 ft). Why was permission granted for the developers to cut the canal right through Adelaide beach? That canal will cause what is left of the public side of Adelaide beach to erode, leaving the public with a degraded beach at the very least. Worse case scenario, homeowners on Adelaide beach could eventually see their homes destroyed. How does this encourage us to TRUST?
The dredging for the canal and marina will also cause siltation which will affect the spectacular coral reefs and magnificant diving in the area. The dive/snorkel industry on the SW coast is responsible for tens of thousands of visitors to New Providence every year, not to mention millions of much needed tourist dollars. The Albany EIA states that; “The dredging, beach nourishment and jetty placement could each, and collectively, result in substantial sustained increases in turbidity, reducing the light available to the corals and thereby impact the few sensitive coral communities in the vicinity, as well as the productivity of the algal species of the area;
These activities could also result in sedimentation of coral heads present in the area, also reducing access to light, and potentially damaging the coral heads;
Other potential impacts during construction activities relate to the possible disturbances to the regular activities of local recreational boaters, and the commercial diving activities which take place in the area. “
Additionally, beaches and corals protect the land from storm surges and large waves. With these beaches disappearing and the coral severely compromised by these kinds of development, more and more of New Providence island is made vulnerable to storms and hurricanes including the coastline residences of Adelaide village.
As of March 5, 2008 markers have been placed along Adelaide beach at the high and low water marks for “pre-nourishment” of our beach because according to the Albany EIA they expect our beach to erode if the canal and marina are dredged. This pre-emptive move will essentially slow down what we can expect to see of the beach eroding in the future. At no time have the residents of Adelaide been made aware of a time line for any part of the Albany development that will directly affect them.
The Albany developers have committed to “re-nourish” Adelaide beach for 30 years at intervals of every 4 -6 years and to the tune of $1.5 million dollars. What happens if “re-nourishment is required every 2 years instead of the 4-6 years, or if storm surges strip the beach of sand, what then? What happens if the money allocated for “re-nourishment” runs out before 30 years is up? And what happens to the beach after 30 years?
Collectively, the residents of Adelaide stand to lose millions of dollars in property values. The property in Adelaide has been owned by Bahamians for generations. Many residents would like to follow that tradition and pass their land on to their children. Should the canal dredging/beach erosion and loss of public access to our beaches occur, this would severely impact the value of land in Adelaide, the businesses in Adelaide, and the attractiveness of Adelaide to the wider community. For many residents their homes are their single largest investment. Why should a foreigner’s dollar be more valuable than ours? Why should Bahamians lose their investment in favour of wealthy foreigners gaining more profits. This is a classic case of Bahamians losing out to direct foreign investment. Taking public property for private profit and damaging our coastline are abuses which are unconscionable, elitist, and just plain wrong.
Why allow the transfer of real Bahamian wealth to a handful of rich people who don’t hold citizenship, who cannot vote, who do not live here full time and whose love for this country is measured only by how much money they can make here?
How is it that a government that asks us to TRUST them, betrays that TRUST by actually giving away the public’s right to walk along the shoreline (up to the high water mark by law) to a private developer? Construction of the Albany canal will deny the thousands of Bahamians who traditionally flock to Adelaide beach every summer for spiritual restoration, recreation and relaxation full access to Adelaide’s coastline. Why should we now just be satisfied with just over a mile of coastline when we had 3-4 miles before Albany?
Why is the government allowing a golf course knowing they notorious for dumping pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, weedicides and fertilizers (some of them known carcinogens) that poison the soil, the air, the water table and the marine environment - are being allowed to be placed on top of Nassau’s largest fresh water lens?
Golf courses are also legendary for “clearing of natural vegetation, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, destruction of natural landscapes and habitats and changes in local topography and hydrology…. Additionally, it results in an increased flux of dissolved nutrients, which can lead to downstream nutrient enrichment and unwanted algal blooms.”( A Global Perspective on the Environmental Impact of Golf July 2006). Is this how a government who wants our TRUST treats our land?
The Albany development’s EIA states that total water use (potable and irrigation) used during peak period for the development will exceed 1.2 million gallons of water per day. This is approximately 10% of the water usage for the whole island of New Providence! Surely in a world already experiencing conflicts as a result of the lack of water, even the “haves” must step up to the plate and conserve water. New Providence island (Nassau) is home to at least 215,000 people who use approximately 55-60 gals water per day compared to the 1000 persons who will be living at Albany using close to 1000 gallons per person per day. Future Bahamians will end up paying for this excessive demand by a degraded water supply, and the high costs of producing water via reverse osmosis or some other technology.
Most of the existing architecture on Adelaide beach is traditional Bahamian. The inappropriate Miami Beach type skyline that the Albany development is proposing is in complete contrast and contradiction with the existing architecture.
There is also the issue of causing the sale of private land for private use. Is that even legal?
Why is it that the residents of Adelaide who stand to lose the most, were not told the pros and cons of the Albany development? The government called 2 public meetings to discuss the Albany project, held in August 2007. At the time when the meetings had been called, the EIA and other documents had not been released to the public. At no time after those meetings did the government come back to the public to discuss the project further – we have only been told via the press that the project has been approved. Clearly due process has been abused and abandoned in this case, and the losers are the Bahamian public. As signatories to the United Nations Agenga 21 proper public input and access to ALL documentation is required.
Numerous issues including a complete avian study, socioeconomic, health, safety and welfare are not addressed. The Public access issue was reduced to one line as follows and boils down to one thing - money.
“Through a series of on-going meetings and coordination with the Government of The Bahamas, significant mitigative financial contribution has been pledged to the Government towards beach access for residents of New Providence. “
In its current form the Albany EIA is incomplete, inconsistent, deficient and is useless as a tool for assessing the true impacts of the project. Therefore it would be imprudent for the government to allow Albany to proceed with this project without first requiring it to truthfully disclose the project’s potentially catastrophic impacts to the Bahamian people.
On January 26 2008 you were quoted as saying,
” Our commitment to create jobs and new business opportunity in our country will not get in the way of our greater commitment to protect the national interest. It is in your interest that development approved by us result in the creation of a community that we the Bahamian people want.” The FNM government you said “is striving to create a country where Bahamians are able to afford prime residential and commercial land for development, are able to access crown Land at preferential rates for residential, agricultural and commercial development, and will continue to have access to the beaches, the shoreline and open green spaces for recreational purposes.”
If memory serves us correctly, there was a resounding NO! at the Albany meeting.
Adelaide has existed for tens of thousands of years and has been utilized by the public for hundreds. We should not rush into a deal that may cause irreparable harm to our nation and people without first taking a hard look before we leap. A hasty deal may leave us with long-term cost that far exceed the short-term benefits of the current Albany project.
What we would like to know is what are you going to do to stop these injustices to our land, our sea, our water, and our people and restore our TRUST in you?
Sam & Tony Duncombe
Adelaide Residents, Directors reEarth