Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Development in the Exumas

Readers beware: contents may contain upsetting photographs.  Read on.

Now that you have seen lots of pretty pictures of the beautiful Bahamas, you won't be too, too upset to see some not so pretty ones.  I have waited a while to post these, as they may upset those who hate change and want the islands to remain untouched. 

Compass Cay is one of our favorite island stop-overs in the Exuma chain.  Tucker Rolle is the state-appointed island  manager and so he gets number one say in how things are run and developed here--number one that is after the government.  Tucker recently purchased a new mega-gallon fuel tank and a very large John Deere generator to aid in running his enterprise.  He has several building projects underway, but he has had to put them on hold to fullfill government demands for containment basins for both the generator and the fuel tank. Protection of the environment is a grave concern in the Bahamas, as tourists won't visit polluted, dead ocean reefs anymore than they will stay at home--they will just go and spend their money elsewhere. 

The heavy equipment shown here was used to move the tank from the beach landing area and  place it strategically in its best operating location. Also moved sand from one end of the island to construction sites. Too bad the tractor treads took out major swaths of folliage along the pathways, but that jungle growth is never held back for long.  By next season, you won't even notice a tractor had plowed thru here. 

Over Yonder was sold by June and her husband two years ago.  They are now living on their boat on the back side of Staniel Cay while their new, bigger and better home is being built close to the airport.  We were not able to find out who bought Over Yonder, or what his plans are for the island, but Boy, O Boy! ! Look at what he has done so far:  8 wind generator windmills, roads, bays, dust, noise and confusion.  Whatever it is going to be, it is going to be BIG.

A private development is going on Joe Cay (on the Sound side of Pipe Creek.)  Dreddging and road building are happening now, a house will go in later.









Wax Cay (off Norman's Cay) has been developed beautifully with a lovely collection of houses, balconies, walk-ways, and a protected, small-craft marina hewn out of the coral rock.  Copper sculptures of Herons, Komodo Dragons and Fish adorn porches.  Each cottage has its own beach with gazebo and stone jetty.  Problem is, it is not yet completed or operational.  A little bird told me one can call Mr. Smith to ask for tie-up permission inside the marina.  (If you really want to know, contact me for the phone numbers.)

Norman's Cay has a new, up-dated bar and grill at MacDuff's.  The government has asked for $150 million performance bond before they will allow any new development to take place.  End of story there.

Royal Island in Eleuthra area was purchased for $160 million last year.  Developers came in and immediatedly cleared the east end of the island for an 18 hole golf course.  They put up a club house and four cottages.  When the government wanted a cachement constructed to drain the fertilizers from the golf course to protect the amazing Egg Reef just to the north, the money dried up.  That isn't the end of the story either.  Here is the gossip:  buisnessmen in Spanish Wells had made their own investments based on the contracts they had received with these developers.  One buisness purchased the where-with-all to provide local cement.  The materials and equipment sit, still wrapped in plastic, on their loading docks, unusable, a very expensive write-off.  Many local individuals and companies were left holding the bag, when the developers just up and vanished in the night.



Today alone, Nassau's daily newspaper, The Tribune, has three pages notifying of buisnesses going into receivership and/or closing completely .  The latest recession is not abating in this part of the world and things seem to be going from bad to worse as the economy gets tighter and tighter.  Nassau's usual number of home break-ins this time last year was 20 a week.  Now it is running at 60.  Crime is definitely on the rise, as young people can find no work and are left with nothing to do and nowhere to go.

From our first-hand experience at the Department of Agriculture yesterday, we can tell of government inefficiency.  We could hardly beleive our eyes. 5 people in one office:  a receptionist who answers the phone (most usually taking  personal calls), a person to type up simple one-page forms, a different person to stamp the forms once typed, a veterinarian (dressed in scrubs no less) who initials said forms, and one on-looker with nothing to do.  This in one small room of a three story building.  hummmmmmm.


On the other end of the stick, building lots are going for a mere 5.5 million dollars in Lyford Cay, on the extreme east end of New Providence, and Atlantis on Paradise Island, although having laid off many staff, is still going strong.  Recommendations from casual observers would be, "Start Small, Expand Later".  Why not put in 20 - 40 slip marinas instead of 150 - 200 slips?  It's just plain embarrassing to see these huge developments make the big splashy beginnings and then fail so utterly.  The individual developers as well as the Bahamian Government should not be so greedy.

Enough bad news for one day.  The weather is hot and sunny, there is no snow to shovel and no frost bite to speak of.  Making new friends on the docks, many from Canada, snow birds like us.

Comments anybody?  Anybody?
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