Thousands turn up to hear about Rosewood Tucker's Point expansion
Bermudians and residents poured through the gates of Rosewood Tucker's Point yesterday to find out more about controversial plans to expand the five-star resort.
Organisers of the walkabout tour estimated at least 2,000 attended and they are hoping just as many will march on the Senate next week in a bid to halt further development of the land.
Conservationist David Wingate urged those who took part yesterday to join in the protest planned for Wednesday, March 16, when senators will debate a special development order (SDO) already approved by the House of Assembly.
Mr Wingate said the Upper Chamber could only delay the order for a year but that could buy campaigners precious time in which to convince the developers to change their minds.
“There are other constructive ways out of this,” he told walkabout participants. “With the time that we buy between approval and them getting going, I believe there are some constructive solutions. The initial negotiations will have to be pretty delicate. We can't say too much until we speak to the key players. I'm convinced that there are some constructive ways out of it.”
The former conservation officer was manning one of 20 “viewpoints” along the two-mile route to show how the landscape at Quarry Hill and Paynter's Hill in Hamilton Parish could change under plans for an extra 78 private homes and 70 hotel rooms at Tucker's Point.
“Right now, unless the Government can be made to understand just how environmentally disastrous the vast majority of this would be, then there's the chance we lose it all,” he said.
He said he'd been asking people on the tour to raise their hands if they supported the SDO.
“I haven't seen many hands up,” he added. “That's a powerful message.”
He and other volunteers asked people to write to the Island's 11 senators to convince them to vote down the SDO.
Shadow Public Works Minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin did the tour and gave walkers at Mr Wingate's viewpoint a breakdown of votes for and against the SDO in the House on February 28, when it was approved 21 to ten.
She said every member of the official Opposition opposed it, along with Bermuda Democratic Alliance MP Donte Hunt.
Every Government MP who was there supported it, along with BDA MP Shawn Crockwell and independent MP Darius Tucker, whose Hamilton South constituency takes in Tucker's Point.
Mrs Gordon-Pamplin mentioned that Government MP El James was absent for the vote, as were his PLP colleagues Dennis Lister and Walter Lister and BDA member Mark Pettingill.
Of Mr James, she added: “He had served in the capacity of Environment Minister. In that vein, there was no way his conscience could support voting for the SDO. At least he had the decency not to show up.”
Yesterday's walk was organised jointly by Tucker's Town Historical Society, Bermuda Audubon Society, the Bermuda National Trust, Bermuda Environmental and Sustainability Taskforce (BEST), Greenrock, Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda and SOS. They all oppose the SDO on environmental and historical grounds. A Tucker's Point spokeswoman said the hotel was pleased to welcome members of the Historical Society and “other concerned Bermudians” on the tour.
“We embrace the opportunity to give our neighbours a first-hand understanding of the highly responsible way in which we have developed Tucker's Point,” she said.
“In terms of any future development, we remain committed to safeguarding the environmental and historical integrity of our property. We will continue to protect and enhance bird life, plants and trees, and safeguard the many caves in the woodland areas.
“We sincerely hope that the members of the Historical Society and others joining the walk benefit from their visit to Tucker's Point.
“We hope they will recognise Tucker's Point's leadership in establishing new standards of excellence in Bermuda's tourism industry.
“We hope, as well, that they will appreciate Tucker's Point's environmental stewardship, its continuing green initiatives and its commitment to sustainable development.”
Last night, BEST's online petition against the SDO, at www.gopetition.com/petition/43111.html, had more than 850 signatures.
l Useful websites: www.tuckerspoint.bm, www.best.org.bm, www.planning.gov.bm.