Morgans Point land swap deal signed
Morgans Point timeline
1995: Americans vacate the Naval Annex at Morgans Point in Southampton, leaving pollution and waste.
2002: The US Bases (Termination of Agreement) Act is passed by the House of Assembly, apparently freeing the US from responsibility for rectifying the pollution. The US refuses to pay to clean up the pollution at Morgans Point and the former Naval Air Base at St Davids but gives the Island $11 million to replace or repair Longbird Bridge.
June 2007: The clean-up issue comes up during a meeting between Premier Ewart Brown and Congressman Charles Rangel in Washington. Dr Brown says the Democrat suggested talks could be reopened.
September 2007: It is revealed that developers Southlands Ltd are considering moving a planned five-star resort at the pristine Southlands estate in Warwick to Morgans Point.
April 2, 2008: Government and Southlands Ltd sign a land swap agreement, which is not legally binding.
February 2010: Southlands Ltd director Brian Duperreault accuses Dr Brown of repeatedly stalling the land swap deal and treating him and partners Craig Christensen and Nelson Hunt unfairly. The Ministry of Works says it has delayed remediation work at Morgans Point while it seeks alternative funding sources.
March 2010: Works and Engineering Minister Derrick Burgess tells the House of Assembly that total authorised funding for the remediation project at Morgans Point is estimated at $35 million.
June 2010: Prior to another visit to Washington, Dr Brown says he wants a yes or no answer on whether the US will pay for the clean-up. Once there, he meets with US Navy officials but doesnt reveal the outcome of the talks.
September 13, 2010: Government and Southlands Ltd publicly sign a land swap deal to allow a $2 billion tourism resort to be built at Morgans Point over the next 20 years — though the exchange is still not complete in law.
September 30, 2010: Dr Brown meets US Attorney General Eric Holder for talks over the clean-up.
March 28, 2011: The Morgans Point Act 2011 passes in the House of Assembly. Mr Burgess tells MPs that all appeals to the US to pay for the clean-up have failed and that taxpayers will have to pick up the tab.
December 2011: Junior Minister Vince Ingham tells the Senate the early phases of the clean-up will begin in April and should be done in 24 months, with final completion within five years. He gives the estimated worst case cost as $36.1 million.
March 2012: The House hears during the Budget debate that the clean-up is expected to cost $38 million.
April 2012: Government starts remediation work at Morgans Point.
June 25, 2012: The exchange of land is legally finalised at a signing ceremony at Cabinet — meaning 80 acres of Morgans Point now belongs to the developers and the 37-acre Southlands estate is public property.
Government has finally signed over the former base land at Morgans Point to three developers who plan to build a $2 billion luxury resort there.
The deal, which has been in the pipeline since 2007, was completed at a ceremony at Cabinet yesterday and means the pristine Southlands estate in Warwick is now public property.
Bermudian businessmen Craig Christensen, Nelson Hunt and Brian Duperreault agreed to swap 37 acres at Southlands for 80 acres of brownfield freehold land at Morgans Point on the Southampton/Sandys border.
The trio plan to build three hotels, condominiums, restaurants and a spa, among other facilities, on their new plot, as well as lease another 140 acres from Government for a par 71 golf course.
Taxpayers, meanwhile, will have to fork out $38 million to clean up US military pollution on the Morgans Point peninsula, according to the Ministry of Public Works.
Mr Christensen told The Royal Gazette in a recent exclusive interview he believed that figure was inflated but a Ministry spokesman said last month it was correct (see separate stories).
Yesterday, Government Estates Minister Michael Scott told a press conference before the signing of the land swap that the Morgans Point development was one of the most ambitious projects in the hotel and hospitality industry in Bermudas history.
He said the multifaceted scheme would create remarkable opportunities for Bermudians. It means new employment opportunities. It means a major boost to the local construction industry, possible 1,000 constructions jobs over a 20-year period.
It means significant progress in the provision of a new five-star hotel in which Bermudians can find rewarding career opportunities and jobs across the resort structure.
The Minister added that opening up Southlands to the public as a national park, as called for by environmentalists and promised by former Premier Ewart Brown, would be a very interesting, urgent priority.
It was reported in March 2010 that Government was considering naming the site after legendary political activist Pauulu Kamarakafego, but Mr Scott said yesterday the parks name had yet to be decided.
He said Southlands would become banked land for future generations.
Mr Scott noted there had been a great deal of blood, sweat and tears since the swap was first proposed by Warwick South East MP and former Premier Alex Scott in 2007.
The idea came about after the developers original plans to build their resort on Southlands sparked a public outcry.
Mr Christensen told the press conference: This land swap represents the beginning of a new chapter and a great deal of work lies ahead.
We have a responsibility to deliver to Bermuda this significant development for the benefit of Bermuda and future generations of Bermudians.
We look forward to meeting that challenge by working with the Government of Bermuda to deliver an outstanding development that all Bermudians can be proud of for many years to come.
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