Gov’t Prepares To Purchase Clifton Property

Gov’t Prepares To Purchase Clifton Property

The government is moving steadily in its efforts to purchase the controversial Clifton Cay property, a process some say should be completed 

The future of Clifton Cay could soon be finalized once and for all.

In an interview with the Bahama Journal Thursday Secretary of the Clifton Cay Acquisition Committee Ronald Thompson indicated that the government is now in the process of finalizing a resolution to authorize the sale of bonds to purchase the land.

That resolution should be presented shortly after parliament reconvenes next month, he said.

The passage of the resolution would pave the way for the government to secure financing for the purchase of the 600-acre property that is owned by Lady Nancy Oakes.

While the government has always sought ways of securing financing for the multimillion-dollar property located on the western tip of New Providence, it was able to formulate a clear plan to acquire the land when the Clifton Cay Acquisition Committee reported to the prime minister a few weeks ago.

The group made recommendations to the government regarding the fair market value of the historic property, as well as various funding mechanisms.

The Clifton Cay property has an estimated value of just under $20 million, according to some estimates.

During his 2003/2004 budget communication, Prime Minister Perry Christie proposed the establishment of a Clifton Cay National Park Authority, which would operate along the lines of the Bridge Authority. According to Mr. Christie, the Clifton Cay National Park Authority would issue bonds – similar to bridge bonds – and the proceeds of the issue would be used to acquire Clifton Cay, a process that would be accomplished in the shortest time possible.

Mr. Christie further pointed out that since the Authority would not have revenue, the annual payments on servicing the bonds would be met by the Consolidated Fund under an appropriate head. In this way, he said, the costs of acquiring Clifton Cay would be spread over a number of years.

Delighted by the government’s progress to date, President of the Coalition to Save Clifton Cay, Rev. C.B. Moss told the Bahama Journal Thursday that while he cannot suggest a timeframe for when the purchase of the property ought to be completed, he expects that the process will be done in haste.

Rev Moss was also quick to point out his concerns regarding the government’s proposal to establish a National Park.

“Indeed, this is very good news because the former owner is entitled to have payment made to the property,” he said. “It is only fair that the owner be paid as soon as possible.

“However, the Coalition has always held the position that before any work be done on the site – whether for commercial development or otherwise – that the archeological process be completed first. A plan for the development of Clifton Cay should be prepared and implemented after we determine what exactly lies on that site. So we don’t have a problem if a national park is not developed immediately, as long as in the interim, an investigation is done.”

There is a fresh water wetland on the property, critical to bird life for the entire western district, according to the Bahamas National Trust.

In 1999 international archeologists discovered that a site proposed for a gated community held clues to prehistoric civilization and every historic era in The Bahamas up to post emancipation. The archeological team unearthed artifacts eight centuries old, left behind by some of the country’s earliest settlers at the old Whylly plantation at Clifton.

“It would be a tragedy of monumental proportions if development were to take place any part of that site only to discover later that it contained relics of great value,” Rev Moss said.

By Macushla 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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