A group of local South Eleuthera supporters of the Disney development proposal were present with Member of Parliament for Central and South Eleuthera, Mr. Hank Johnson, sporting ‘We support Disney…” t-shirts, during a two and a half hour nationally broadcast radio show, which ran from 10:30 am until 1:00pm, hosted in the township of Wemyss Bight on Monday, September 17th, 2018.
A number of local supporters who were interviewed commented on the consistent decline in the economy of South Eleuthera during the past several decades, and looked on the Disney proposal as something that promised to make a positive economic impact for some of the residents in South Eleuthera, with their promise of 100 plus jobs on-site.
In their own words
Politics ruin everything
During an interview, as a guest on the radio show, Mr. Hank Johnson, stated that his government had made no decision as yet on the proposed Disney cruise port development at Lighthouse Point, South Eleuthera. In answer to Darold Miller Live host’s question to him on when the Bahamas government would make a decision on the Lighthouse Point issue, Mr. Johnson stated, “As soon as my government has completed their evaluation, my government will send a team to Eleuthera. We will hold a town meeting and the voice of the people will be heard. This will happen in the next week or two… South Eleuthera has been left behind, and we want to be heard… We will stand as one and we will make sure that the decision made is made in the interest of the people of South Eleuthera.”
Radio Talk Show Host, Darold Miller was very vocal in his support for the Disney proposal, citing the long history of Disney’s cruise port operations in the Bahamas. He was also part of a group, which included a number of the local supporters present during the radio broadcast on Monday, who had been taken by Disney representatives to tour their current Castaway Cay cruise port location during the past weekend.
On Saturday, September 15th, some of the country’s social media personalities also visited Lighthouse Point, hosted by a coalition of concerned organizations, whose objective the group says, is to preserve and protect the Lighthouse and the surrounding 700 acres of land from commercial development, offering instead, an option for sustainable development. Led by the One Eleuthera Foundation, the Bahamas National Trust and 8 other NGO’s the coalition continues to advocate for the area to be converted to a legacy/national park, protected from the kind of commercial development proposed by Disney, saying, “The sustainable development option proposed by the coalition would provide more full time direct and indirect jobs and create greater economic impact for South Eleuthera. If allowed to move forward, the coalition believes that this sacred ground, will eventually be blocked to locals, its rural, untouched beauty replaced by over-crowded beaches and its tranquil bays spoiled by concrete super docks for skyscraper cruise ships, jet skis and more.”
“I’m very excited to have been included on this trip,” said one of the media personalities on the site visit, Timico “Sawyerboy” Sawyer. “I met Franchesca, Wadainya and Kristman during their recent visit to Nassau and was totally impressed by how passionate they are about protecting this beautiful place. I have enjoyed hearing One Eleuthera’s plans for not just the point but the entire area. That’s something I think people don’t understand, it’s not just about the Lighthouse, it’s about the whole area.”
With the help of local residents, members of the wider environmental coalition, and youth activists Franchesca Hanna and Wadainya Weinberger, the media group made the hour-long journey to the site, hiking along stunning water front views to the island’s southernmost tip. From atop the ocean side cliffs they were able to experience the breathtaking views which stretch for miles in every direction.
The trip was also an opportunity for the group to learn about the environmental significance of the area. In addition to its stunning ocean views Lighthouse beach and the surrounding acres of land are home to some to more than ten percent of the country’s endemic plant life.
“There are at least 8 species of plant life which can only be found in the Bahamas and they all grow right here at lighthouse point” explained resident Botanist Dr. Ethan Freid of the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve, operated by the Bahamas National Trust. Dr. Fried has studied the vegetation in the area and has been instrumental in cataloging the scores of indigenous plants at the site – many of which contain medicinal value. “The intent of the coalition has always been to preserve all of the elements that naturally occur in this area – both plant life and marine life – and commercial development would do the opposite of that”.
The students and the coalition hoped that seeing, touching and having their own personal experience at the Point, would help the group of media – through their various platforms – explain to thousands the importance of joining the campaign to protect this land for all Bahamians. Already, more than twenty-eight thousand persons have signed the on-line petition asking everyone to stand with One Eleuthera Foundation, who are asking the Government to consider an alternative to the Disney proposed cruise port and private beach.