Tucker’s Town land rocketed in value after compulsory purchase
Land values in Tucker’s Town rocketed after the Bermuda Development Company forced residents from the area, a Commission of Inquiry heard yesterday.
Theodore Francis, a historical researcher, said surveys carried out between 1920 and 1922 put the value of the land at Tucker’s Town at $687 an acre.
But when a survey was carried out on land values before the US base opened in 1944, the same land was valued at $5,050 per acre.
Dr Francis said: “It indicates the ways in which the development of this property was a boon for the BDC in terms of their value that they were able to extract from obtaining this land.
“We can have deeper conversations, I’m sure, about the ways the people who were removed from this might not have been able to access this same kind of value, whether that was in their settlement, compulsory purchase prices they were awarded or even in the long-term.”
Earlier this week Dr Francis told the commission the acquisition of land in and around Tucker's Town was orchestrated by an “international matrix of white power” made up of foreign investors and members of Bermuda’s oligarchy.
Dr Francis said members of the public raised concerns about the process, including people who stood to lose their homes.
He highlighted the case of Dina Smith, who had inherited a piece of land near Tucker’s Town Bay.
Dr Francis said Ms Smith was among the last residents to appear before the property assessment jury in September 1923.
He said: “The land was assessed at $4,000 – which I think is interesting because that value is considerably higher than what the others received – mainly because at this point it seems they are trying to push her off the land and buy her out as rapidly as possible.
“Ms Smith however does not go along with this, even though she is awarded as one of the people who had interest in the land, even though she was offered a share of the land’s value.
“She remains on the property and does not sign over her interests in the property. The Bermuda Development Company proceeds to file a case against her in January 1924.”
Dr Francis said Mrs Smith hired a lawyer and went to court, but lost the case.
But she still refused to take the money or leave the property.
Dr Francis said: “Mrs Smith remained in her home until early June 1924 when a police warrant is issued to have her removed from the premises.
“She is removed from the property and it is then only after she is removed from the property do we see her actually go to the court and petition to receive the money allocated to her for the compulsory purchase.
He added: “I think this is important, her physical removal, not just because it was a traumatic moment for her and her family members because by then she was an elderly woman, but it is also indicative of a level of discontent or dissatisfaction with the way this compulsory purchase process played out, for at least some of the residents.”
Dr Francis added that, despite the payouts that were made, the matter of consent had to be discussed.
He said: “Mrs Smith seems to show the way consent is pushed out of the way underneath this compulsory purchase legislation.
“Her challenge to this and her willingness to sign off only after she is physically removed seems to indicate this.”