Clifton Bay Heritage Site: Bacon did indeed take some initial steps to preserve
As a Bahamian who has been involved in the works at The Clifton Bay Heritage Site over the years I feel proud of what we have achieved. I also feel the need to commit to paper a few thoughts regarding my knowledge regarding Clifton Bay preservation efforts.
I recall many years ago in the early 90s (long before there were any press releases town meetings or Government resolutions or legislation on the matter of this site) being asked by my good friend Pericles Maillis to go with him to help to clearly mark a number of rare trees that were in jeopardy of being destroyed by the human activities that were taking place in the vicinity of Jaws Beach. We spent many hours absorbed by the placement of rings of rocks and boulders. At this time Pericles pointed out and spoke of numerous old buildings and sites of historic value.
During this decade it came to my attention that this property was being considered as a site for the proposed port development and sometime after 1992 there were some efforts by the government of the day to get the title to the property. I did not follow this in any detail so I cannot speak to the specifics; rather I speak about the general reaction of the people I was around. This was essentially one of concern for the area from an environmental and to a lesser extent the historical aspect. The former was thought to be in great danger as there was talk of dredging and such. There was some talk concerning the historical structures and that they might be endangered. At this time as one of my professional responsibilities I was engaged in the Landscape maintenance of the Louis Bacon Property called “Point House” near the end of Lyford Cay proper. This is the property over which Mr. Nygard has a right of way to access Sim’s Point. Mr. Nygard views Sim’s point as his Cay since he calls it “Nygard Cay”. At this time Mr. Nygard had taken it upon himself to block access to the beach area that extended from North Point around past Sim’s Point, which had been sold to him by Nancy Oakes. At the time of this blocking of my rights, and others to use the beach I wrote to the Guardian and the Tribune to focus attention on the matter. I noted that nothing was done and I also noted that Frank Watson our Deputy Prime Minister of the day was a regular at play on Mr. Nygard’s tennis court. Mr. Nygard continued to do things that were not allowed without permits such as dredging, expansion into the sea with concrete and placing of boulders into the water to accrete land. It appeared that no actions were being taken by the government authorities to prevent him from doing this.
At that time Mr. Louis Bacon hired an oceanographer to record the extent of these illegal activities. I was present when we did some aerial surveys of the Sim’s point area with a helicopter and developed a photographic record of the actions taking place there. These flights were done with the approval of Civil Aviation.
Also around this time Mr. Bacon invited numerous notable persons from around the world. One of these was Mr. Robert Kennedy Jr. who I met briefly and whom I understood Mr. Bacon had invited on account of Mr. Kennedy’s involvement internationally in environmental issues. At that time there was much discussion of the entire Clifton Bay area including the Goulden Cay Park, Sim’s Point, Lyford Cay and the historical site at Clifton and the Bunker areas. The discussions were in the realm of determining the best way to bring these issues to light with a view to ensuring that no adverse development such as the port and the residential community that was subsequently being proposed for this area. I repeat, the discussion at this time was to determine the best way to prevent adverse development that would damage the environment. While there was acknowledgment of the historical importance of this area the focus of Mr. Bacon’s guests and friends was towards the environmental issues, which coincided with the interests of the historical issues.
All this discussion came about long before there were any public meetings press releases or resolutions about the Clifton Bay Heritage Site. My understanding from these discussions is that Mr. Bacon made great strides in communicating the issues internationally to many of his friends and acquaintances who were in positions to effect matters behind the scenes in favour of preservation of this area. It is to this issue that Mr. Robert Kennedy Jr. had spoken publicly to give some credit to Mr. Bacon and to which Mr. Bacon refers in his Audubon Society award acceptance speech.
It is my contention that Mr. Bacon did indeed take some initial steps to preserve Clifton Bay. I am a witness to this. The nature of those who would write history is often unfortunately tainted by the selfish need to take credit and to discount events, which don’t sit well with their agenda. We Bahamians are good people whose agenda is more concerned with knowing that we have done the right thing than to worrying about where the credit might go. If we find ourselves being divided we should look to see where these divisions come from. Historically these divisions have come from those influences that would divide and rule us. We should take steps to reflect on whether we are doing our Christian duty to our fellow man when we speak of him rather than simply repeating the words of others.