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Resort owner pledges to protect historic Tucker’s Town cemetery

Righting wrongs: lawyer Mark Pettingill (File photo by Akil Simmons)

The owners of a luxury resort responsible for the desecration of a graveyard said they had taken steps to protect the historic site and ensure that it was maintained “in perpetuity”.

A lawyer for the owners of the Rosewood Bermuda resort and golf course in Hamilton Parish made the pledge during yesterday’s sitting of the Commission of Inquiry into Historic Losses of Land.

Mark Pettingill, who appeared for Rosewood’s owners Gencom, presented commissioners with a nine point list that the hoteliers had drawn up to protect the graveyard – a burial site for Tucker’s Town residents.

The commission heard last November that the site was not protected from golf balls hit from the resort’s driving range.

The Reverend Joseph Whalen told the inquiry that there was “no rest – certainly for those who are the descendants – with the knowledge of the golf balls."

Dr Whalen added that Marsden First United Methodist Church – the custodian of the graveyard – had appealed to for the resort’s owners to tackle the problem for more than ten years.

Mr Pettingill pointed out that the current owner – an affiliate of Gencom – was not aware of the problem when it bought the property in 2017.

He said they found it “atrocious” that the matter had not been resolved earlier, but were determined to take immediate action.

Mr Pettingill said that two of the tees on the driving range had been closed and others had been “redirected” so that the graveyard was not in the line of shot.

The owners will also install a footpath to provide “permanent access right to the site” and also landscape and maintain it.

Mr Pettingill said: “The new owners took over the property without the flag of the historic site being raised and that’s where things have fallen down.

“The site is an island and the only way to get to it is through Tucker’s Point property, so it is intended to create a clear access that allows for that.

Mr Pettingill added that details of the path would be added to the resort’s property deeds, which would put any future owner “on notice”.

Dr Whalen thanked Mr Pettingill, but also expressed some reservations over how work would be carried out.

He told the commission: “I want to thank Mr Pettingill for bringing these nine items before the commission so that we can move forward in terms of bringing some healing and resolution and closure to the issue.

“Part of the narrative with regard to the overall Tucker’s Town position has been that those in power have not always heeded or taken into consideration.”

Dr Whalen asked: “Are the Rosewood Tucker’s Point owners going to allow for input and voices to be heard of those who have an interest?

“If you move expeditiously, that may be an affront to individuals. It kind of feeds into this narrative of ’we’re just going to go ahead with what we think is best’, without getting the input of all the stakeholders.”

Mr Pettingill replied that the nine-point “wish list” had been drawn up based on recommendations from Marsden Church.

But he admitted that, although work had already commenced on some of the “no-brainer” problems, such as the driving range, other problems would need further consultation.

He said: “We’re not gong to just stick a bench in anywhere – that is something that should involve further and important dialogue with all stakeholders.

“If there are other things, the owners are open to hearing about them and how they would like to see it – it’s their historic site.”

Wayne Perinchief, a member of the commission, thanked Mr Pettingill for his helpful attitude.

Mr Perinchief said: “It has opened a doorway to resolution and I hope that other people that come before us take a similar approach.”

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Published January 15, 2021 at 8:40 am (Updated January 15, 2021 at 8:40 am)

Resort owner pledges to protect historic Tucker’s Town cemetery

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