Categorized | National News

Eleuthera Group Says “ Disney’s Proposal Is Real”

The  Eleuthera Community Support Group, the group of Eleuthera residents in support of Disney’s proposed development in South Eleuthera said that there are still some missing keys  on financing in Lighthouse Point Partner’s last-minute revised proposal plan submitted to the government. 

As a result, they failed to explain disproportionate increases in economic impact and provide no plan for generating consistent business.

In  a statement  released  this past weekend,   Denny  Rankine said, “despite claiming that it is presenting “A Shared Vision for South Eleuthera,” the newest plan submitted to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of the Government of The Bahamas  by the  Lighthouse  Point Partners (LPP) has not been seen by the very community  it is expected to affect.  The new,  For Bahamians, By Bahamians: Sustainable Development Plan for Lighthouse Point, has finally reached Eleutherans, but at the 11th hour.”

The  group  added that during the entire debate regarding the Lighthouse Point property they have been on the ground working with residents to gather a better understanding of their needs.

In  addition, for the last six months  Disney executives have been working closely with area residents, altering their plans to meet resident’s needs.

“We  were only  able to see what is in the revised proposal by the LPP on Friday, after LPP’s last minute pitch to the government. Even with such short notice, we have grave concerns about their development plan.

“Primary  among  these  concerns is the Lighthouse Point Partner’s financial capabilities. The  LPP  has listed  its partners as funders of their initiative while providing only “letters of interest” from other possible partners, including all-too-familiar names like “Holowesko”.

“They  then promised to “seek” global eco-tourism hotel  brands to build out the hospitality-focused parts of the development.

“Through an unclear mixture of existing funding and grants, along with the vague mention of “developer partners,” the LPP claim that they can come up the $23 million necessary to fund their development.
“However, this still does not include the cost of land acquisition—private land that is already under contract for sale to Disney Cruise Lines. 

“This is the same private land on which the One Eleuthera Foundation claimed they made an offer. Upon further investigation by the media,   it was revealed that beyond a verbal discussion, no such offer was made,” he said. 

The statement added that just last week The Bahama National Trust which has always been a strong proponent of Disney’s project and a key member of LPP claimed that “$10 million in annual operating costs for the nation’s national parks and the $25 million needed for infrastructure upgrades meant it had no choice but to partner with the ultra-exclusive community of Albany to develop a beach club and restaurant in the middle of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. 

“The Leon Levy Foundation, in its support letter, did not indicate the amount it was willing to donate to the project. The OEF itself has only raised $6.4 million—not half of its projected costs, which does not include the cost of land acquisition,” said the statement.

Mr. Rankine added that after a decade of being on the market, the LPP has still not yet secured all the necessary funds for the development. 

“Interestingly, despite all the noise in the market about stopping foreign interests, the LPP’s plan is still reliant on “global eco-tourism brands” to make their project a success, which they have promised to see but have also not yet secured.

“We  are also concerned by the many the economic impact claims being made by the OEF in the revised plan. For example, the original proposal, dated March 2018, claimed that 200 permanent jobs would be created with one-time economic contributions including $2.1 million in earnings and $9.5 million in economic output annually.

“Without explanation, the revised plan, dated September 2018, suggests that there will now be 350 jobs created with one-time economic contributions including $11.25 million in earnings and $16.9 million in economic output annually. 

“These new numbers represent a 75 per cent  increase in the estimated job creation, a 436 per cent increase in earnings and 78 per cent  increase in economic output annually—without explanation. In the same vein, in the LPP’s March proposal, the average salary for workers hovered around $18,300 annually. 

“In  the September proposal, that number has increased to about $39,900 annually—again, with no explanation. Despite the increase, there is no mention of the possibility of overtime or health benefits,” Mr. Rankine said.

He  stated  that in their brief review of the revised plan, they became very worried about the promises made regarding jobs and ownership opportunities. Not only has there been an unexplained 75 per cent  increase in the estimated job creation, but also no plan for maintaining these jobs through consistent business  has been laid out in the proposal.

He added that although this is an entirely new development, marketing is mentioned only once in the entire September proposal, and there does not seem to be a budget or plan for marketing internationally  to ensure a steady flow of visitors.

Mr. Rankine noted that One Group supports Disney’s development of Lighthouse Point because they believe it is real. This he said is because Disney has consulted them in every step of the way for the past six months and has addressed their concerns. 

Written by Jones Bahamas

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