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BEST criticism over Cross Island plans

Stuart Hayward, the chairman of Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce (File photograph)

The West End Development Corporation maintained that it is keeping an open mind on the future of the Cross Island Marina project.

And while the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce criticised the quango for failing to publicise its suggestions for the ultimate use, Andrew Dias defended the approach at a public consultation meeting. “I can assure you that our intent and our direction is that this is a blank surface,” he said. “We need to look at it, we need to review it. We are not going to release one or two ideas at a time because I think it would do the process a disservice.

“This is a totally blank surface. We are going to collect all the information.”

Mr Dias said that the quango will continue seeking input and suggestions until the end of July. One collected, he said all of the suggestions would be compared to determine which was the best overall option moving forward, announcing that Deloitte had come on board to assist in the consultation process.

“It was important that we had a partner that was able to be impartial and drive the consultation process to the point where we go out to RFP,” he said. “We did not want it to be myself or anyone on the committee that was driving things and putting together all the information.

“They have a long history in project management and project development, and therefore the board deemed it as the right thing to do going forward, to get some assistance in the pre-development stage. We are starting at ground zero.”

The intimal work on the landfill is expected to be completed by July, at which point it will be handed over for the creation of the America’s Cup Village, but the end use of the site is still to be determined.

Wedco’s initial plans included a marine college and the relocation of Marine and Ports, but those plans were sunk by a court ruling.

Asked if the original plan was still a possibility, Mr Dias said that if it was determined to be the best option, Wedco would move forward from there.

Earlier in the day, BEST issued a statement challenging the decision not to publish the submitted suggestions for the benefit of the public.

The statement read in part: “This omission suggests that Wedco is setting itself up to repeat the missteps that resulted in the Supreme Court quashing their original application for the end-uses of the landfilled area once the America’s Cup is complete and departed.”

BEST said reasons for the plans being quashed included the lack of a “credible Environmental Impact Assessment or Statement”, little public consultation and little response to requests that it quantify the economic costs or benefits of the proposed end uses.

The statement continued: “The result is that Wedco has to start again from scratch. What Wedco needs to pay attention to are the reasons their previous attempt failed which, if ignored, will line up to be the reasons their next attempt will run into problems.

“Presently, Wedco still seems to be entertaining resurrecting its former end-uses and, as we mentioned above, seems already to be tilting the field to its favour.

“We suggest that the relevant minister advise Wedco that the public’s purse cannot afford to be paying out more for further missteps in this process.”