Committee Appointed To Assess Clifton Cay Purchase Price

Committee Appointed To Assess Clifton Cay Purchase Price

PM reviewing three proposals for the land. 

Prime Minister Perry Christie has formed a special committee to look into the sale of the controversial Clifton Cay property and the actual value of the land.

The committee, which is headed by Attorney Sean McWeeney, is expected to assist the government in finalizing the acquisition of the almost 600 acres of land, which has been at the heart of an ongoing debate involving international developers and environmentalists for more than three years.

Mr. McWeeney did not wish to make any official comment on the new committee because the Prime Minister has not yet made an official announcement. Mr. Christie told the Bahama Journal that he will soon make the announcement. He revealed that another member of the committee will be Macgregor Robertson, former Chairman of the Bahamas Development Bank, who recently resigned that position.

“The government initially acquired the property back in 1999,” said a source close to the new committee. “But it now has to pay to ensure that it remains the owner fro the benefit of the Bahamian people. Hopefully, we can bring closure to this matter, which should have been resolved a long time ago.”

A few months ago, Prime Minister Perry Christie said that he was reviewing three proposals for Clifton Cay. One of the groups includes Lyford Cay interests who want to acquire the land in conjunction with the government and develop about 20 lots.

The Lyford Cay team wanted to create a “buffer” between their houses and the national park which the government has already said it would undoubtedly develop at Clifton. Mr. Christie also met with two other groups of investors, including a U.S. environmental group that said it wanted to raise the money for the government to acquire the land to turn it into a national park.

The debate over the Clifton property began when international archaeologists discovered that the site proposed for a major gated community held clues to prehistoric civilization and every history era in The Bahamas up to post emancipation.

Nevertheless, international developers wanted to move ahead with their “upscale, residential club community,” inclusive of a 60-slip marina.

Leading up to the May 2 election, Leader of the Free National Movement Tommy Turnquest said that the project had “died” and that his government no longer had any development plans for the land that the PLP had originally “bought” but never paid for – in order to develop a deep water harbour.

Meantime, while in opposition, the prime minister staunchly opposed the development of the property into a residential community.

Mr. Christie was recently considering the proposal by the Lyford Cay team to build houses on a portion of the land, but he indicated that this was unlikely to be approved.

His party went as far as to outline its commitment to the preservation and restoration Clifton Cay and its promotional as a National Park and World Heritage Site on page 33 of “Our Plan,” the PLP’s commitment to the Bahamian people.

The majority of the land is owned by Nancy Oakes. The new board on Clifton is expected to work with her attorneys to sort out the sale of the property.

By Macushla N. Pinder, The Bahama Journal

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Keod Smith - Keod Smith

Keod Smith is a Barrister in The Bahamas practicing at Commercial Law Advocates, Trinity Place Nassau.

He served as a Member of Parliament for 2002 – 2007 and as Ambassador for the Environment and Chairman of the BEST Commission from 2002 to mid 2006.

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