Businessman calls for Furbert to resign
Businessman Nelson Hunt has called for Pembroke Hamilton Club (PHC) president Chris Furbert to resign.
According to observers, both men exchanged heated words during a club meeting at Bermuda Industrial Union (BIU) on Tuesday night.
Mr Hunt is alleged to have asked Mr Furbert to “step down” from his post and accused him of “poor management”.
Mr Hunt is also alleged to have blamed Mr Furbert for the slow progress of PHC’s multidimensional complex at Stadium Lane, Warwick during the meeting.
When contacted yesterday, Mr Hunt would neither confirm or deny the confrontation with Mr Furbert while the latter did not reply to an e-mail sent by this newspaper.
According to observers, Mr Hunt’s request for Mr Furbert to resign was backed by others in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting.
“Quite a few agreed with Nelson and even applauded,” said one PHC member, who spoke under condition of anonymity. “Chris started to take it personal, but this wasn’t about him. It was about the club.”
Earlier this month PHC legend Cal (Bummy) Symonds called for a shake-up of PHC’s management. He also urged Mr Furbert to give up either the presidency of PHC or the BIU.
It is further alleged that during Tuesday’s well-attended meeting Mr Furbert warned his club’s membership of the risk of being “expelled” for speaking to the media about club matters.
According to the anonymous PHC member, the club’s executive reserves the right to impose such sanctions on members for speaking to the media whether directly or not.
It is understood that PHC are presently considering renegotiating the money they borrowed from the BIU, a topic observers say dominated Tuesday’s meeting.
In 2001 PHC borrowed $1.2 million from the BIU to resurface the playing surface and install new lights at Stadium Lane, Warwick.
The loan was to be paid back over a 17-year period through rental income from PHC’s Reid Street building.
More than a decade later PHC has yet to pay principal on the loan.
Fears have been raised that BIU is on the verge of calling in its loan to PHC. However, PHC president Furbert dismissed this claim in a previous interview.
“That’s quite contrary and to even think the BIU would do something like that to a community club is pretty far reaching because I would like to think that before anything like that goes down, the Union would sit down with the club and have dialogue about a, b or c,” he said. “The BIU is not calling in PHC’s loan.”
But when asked to shed more light on the BIU loan, Mr Furbert replied: “It’s none of the public’s business what’s going on between PHC and the BIU. It’s between the PHC membership and the BIU and ain’t got nothing to do with the public.
“Tell me how does a private club’s affairs has something to do with the public? This is not information for the public.”
PHC are currently exploring various options to generate revenue to pay off debt, including potentially selling the club’s former clubhouse — estimated to be worth $3.2 — $3.6 — located at 81 Reid Street, Hamilton.
That option has been strongly rejected by a number of influential club members, including Mr Symonds.
After the BIU loaned money to PHC, the club successfully negotiated a 20-year lease agreement for $1 million with Esso for 20,000 sq ft of land at their Warwick ground.
Esso subsequently leased an additional 2,000 sq ft of land for $125,000 to bring the total amount of the lease to $1,125,000.
Monies for leasing the gas station property have been fully paid to PHC.
PHC also struck a controversial lease agreement with the Ministry of Education in 2008. That agreement will see the Ministry pay PHC approximately $8 million over a 20-year period for the TN Tatem family of Primary, Middle and Preschools to use the club’s multidimensional complex.
The agreement was never announced by Government and doesn’t come into effect until the new facility at Stadium Lane is completed.
Shadow Education Minister Grant Gibbons has called on Premier Paula Cox to provide an explanation that justifies the agreement. He also called on the Premier to justify her lack of disclosure surrounding the major commitment of taxpayer’s money.
Education Minister Dame Jennifer Smith has accused the One Bermuda Alliance of “politicalisation and electioneering” Government’s lease agreement with PHC.
To date PHC has been unable to secure funding for the final two phases of the multipurpose facility.
According to a Government source, PHC rejected requests to downsize the project and accept the money HSBC was offering during negotiations to secure a loan to finance the project.
Club documents reveal that PHC were seeking to borrow between $10 million and $11 million from HSBC who were only willing to lend $8.5 million.