As I understand it the Oakes family owns the property at Clifton Cay. Some time back our Government offered to buy some 200 of this 600 acres or thereabouts to develop a new port area outside of the city of Nassau. For whatever reason, the Oakes family was never paid for the property.
Subsequent to this a developer was found to purchase and develop this tract of land. When certain quarters learned of the development special interest groups began to gather momentum, eventually forming the Coalition to save Clifton Cay.
The Argument and the questions.
The "Coalition" has decided that the property should not be developed… it should be preserved as a park for future generations. Reference is made to the overcrowding of the inner city and the fact that the beaches of New Providence are disappearing into private hands.
I have no problem with the "Coalition" and their desire to advance their cause, but I do have a few questions:
- If the "Coalition" owned a property with a park and the Association of Bahamian Churches demanded that the weight of Government be used to prevent their preservation in favour of building a church there, what would their position be?
- How will a park at the far end of the island help with overcrowding in the city?
- Who will maintain the park?
- What will it cost to maintain the park, and who will pay for it?
- Who owns the beaches of New Providence now?
- Who has owned the beaches for the last fifty years?
- Where will the opportunities for our graduating students come from if we stop development?
As indicated earlier I have no problem with "Coalition" advancing its cause, however, our Constitution provides for individuals of like interest to join together and it particularly states that such organisations may not deprive others of any rights of other individuals under the law.
Xenophobia and the Political Ploy.
Even though there are rumours a foot that "foreigners" are providing financial support to the "Coalition" I honestly believe there are two main reasons for this push to stop the development: Our innate fear of foreigners, and a political ploy to prey on the fears and emotions of innocent Bahamians. If we had a history of domination like the Albanian-s… the case for xenophobia could possibly be made. The Ottoman Turks, the Serbs, the Montenegrins, the Greeks and the Italians have dominated the Albanians for centuries however; we have been interacting on a daily basis with other nations and their peoples for years for our own advantage.
Because of this domination, "Albania had fallen even further behind the modern world as its historically grounded xenophobia was reinforced by a reactionary Stalinism that cut it off even from its nominal compatriots in the Communist bloc." 1
If we continue down this road we will do the same to ourselves.
Unfortunately if we continue to give the impression that because some of us disagree with this development it should be stopped we are headed down the long road of tyranny and anarchy. The owner has the right to do as they wish their own property… within the law of course.
Hopefully the members of the "Coalition" will realise that just as they hope to take another groups liberty; they may be faced with a similar act in the years to come.
Obviously the developers have shown their intent with the preservation of the Whylly ruins and agreeing to provide access to the beach. Unless the "Coalition" can make an attractive enough offer to buy the property from the developers they should hope for no more.
Property rights are essential to our freedom. If one group is able to force the Government to deny another group this long established privilege we had better "make haste" and move to another country where property rights are protected.
Down the road.
If the concern the "Coalition" has for the beaches has any merit whatsoever it may be in everyone-s best interest to consider ways to purchase back some of the beaches on New Providence at a fair market value and develop parks all over the island. However, this should be with voluntary donations… not by increasing our National Debt.
Like the National Trust in England maintains their castles, the "Coalition" could then manage the beaches of New Providence.
As the beaches on New Providence are in private hands I don-t think the situation in the Family Islands is much different and this should be taken into account. But policies should not be arrived at with emotionalism and accusations; the parties should rationally discuss the aims and objectives of all sides to find a compromise.
If we will be allowed to "force" people off their own property, I can think of several properties that I might target for my yet to be formed "Coalition."