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Future is bright for Dockyard

Stepping down: Charlton is leaving Wedco (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

When I announced my resignation as the chairman of the West End Development Corporation recently, I said in this newspaper that more had been achieved in the past four years than had been accomplished in the previous 40.

While I hope I have played a small part in that, credit must go to the entire Wedco team who have worked tirelessly to achieve an amazing amount.

It has been an honour to work with them and to see their accomplishments in vastly improving Royal Naval Dockyard’s infrastructure, preserving its heritage and preparing for one of the world’s biggest sporting events, the America’s Cup.

Much has been achieved in a very short space of time and while we cannot, and should not, overlook the past, it is to the future that I want to turn.

The America’s Cup has the potential to transform Bermuda as a destination and should be welcomed with the widest of open arms.

It will give us the kind of publicity our competitor destinations can only dream of and we will feature in the living rooms of millions of people from Japan, to New Zealand, to Sweden, France, Britain and the United States as they turn on their televisions to watch the racing.

I am tremendously excited and believe it will touch almost everyone here in Bermuda in some way, whether that is through extra work or renting a property or extra business. It has to be good for us.

Although all the work that has been undertaken recently was in the pipeline, it has, unquestionably, been accelerated by the America’s Cup and has provided a lot of work for local people.

Renovations include homes at Prince Alfred Terrace, new office space at Moresby House, the magnificent Chicane Building and the stunning Sail Loft. There are too many projects to list. Suffice to say, more than $13 million has been spent.

Many of these buildings will be used for the America’s Cup but afterwards they will leave a stunning legacy for locals to use.

Their renovation has also ensured that Dockyard has not stood still, that it has continued to evolve and will continue to be a hub for visiting cruise ships and their passengers.

One of the biggest projects in recent memory in Bermuda has been undertaken at Dockyard with the reclamation of nine acres of land that is Cross Island, the home of the America’s Cup Village.

When Wedco embarked on this massive project, costing $39 million, I and the Wedco board were adamant that it had to have a continued use after the America’s Cup that would benefit the people of Bermuda, economically.

The Cross Island Legacy Committee was established to examine future uses. It has delivered its report which Wedco is examining. It is not a process that should be rushed as, I have stated, it must contribute to Bermuda’s economic wellbeing in the short, medium and long term.

I am sure that whoever replaces me as the chairman of Wedco will continue the process and will keep the public informed of progress.

Whilst I am sad to be stepping down as chairman, I have no fears about the future. Positive progress will continue to be made at Dockyard.

It has become the jewel in Bermuda’s crown and I am sure it will continue to evolve.

In the meantime, I would urge everyone to play their part in making the America’s Cup one of the most successful ever.