Misconceptions about our beloved Olde Towne
The Town of St George has been discussed in the media lately, and I would like to address a few matters that have arisen. I am in hope that this letter provides a bit of clarity on widely debated and sometimes misunderstood topics.
We have noted the following concerns in reference to the town and encourage stakeholders to provide ideas and additional feedback for further improvements:
1, Boarded buildings make the town look dead
A boarded-up or empty building is the responsibility of the private owner. The upkeep of the property rests solely in their hands. Encouraging owners to open requires economic demand. To this end we are working with a steering committee to rejuvenate the town
2, The town looks old
This forms part of our brand and promotes the Town of St George’s historical identity as a Unesco World Heritage site destination. Calls to drastically change the town’s ambience runs contrary to the Unesco World Heritage Site designation. The historical character and authentic experience are a draw for travellers that relish the experience
3, Olde Towne is not up to date
This is a misconception. The town has modern services expected of any municipality, such as internet, solar panels and the provision for electric car recharging stations. Residents have access to a five-star hotel, golf course and soon-to-be marina. The St George’s Preservation Authority continues to uphold the historical building standards for residential and business exteriors that are required and expected as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
4, St George has excessive red tape
The St George’s Preservation Authority, the Corporation of St George, the Bermuda National Trust and the Department of Planning are very sensitive to the town’s development needs and have crafted guidelines and regulations to ensure architectural harmony. Simply put, construction in a Unesco World Heritage Site and in listed buildings within the Town must adhere to the strict building codes in place for the town to maintain its World Heritage Site status and to preserve our heritage for future generations
5, Businesses feel abandoned
The corporation has acknowledged the cries of the St George’s Business Stakeholders Group and encourages them to use the systems currently in place, for us to strike the right balance and deliver services efficiently. In full disclosure, the corporation has an Activities Committee that supports social development; Bermuda Economic Development Corporation funds and supports business development and the East End Chamber of Commerce lobbies economic opportunities, all within the town. As noted above we have mechanisms and organisations in place that are here to support and aid in the economic growth of businesses in the town
Receiving feedback is an integral part of running a public office and it provides us with a benchmark as to where we need to make improvements, and measures overall performance. As we work to balance the needs of primary and secondary stakeholders, satisfying one group may mean disadvantaging another in the interim, which is mainly owing to resource and/or budgetary constraints.
The corporation wants to foster an environment that celebrates our proud heritage and promotes opportunity for all residents, visitors and businesses to thrive.
GEORGE DOWLING III
Town of St George