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A different view of Hamilton waterfront

August 12, 2013

Dear Sir

I wish to offer an opinion on the Waterfront Development discussions.

It seems appropriate to begin this analysis by way of the following extract from the Hamilton Waterfront Development proposal: “ADP Ltd will work closely with both the Corporation of Hamilton, the Bermuda Government, and other parties having a vested interest, resulting in the positive rebirth of our City Waterfront, which will become world renowned. It will become visionary, lasting and sustainable, yet sensitive to the essence of what has made Bermuda unique.”

Any reader absent of paranoia and offensive labelling of other Bermudians, including elements of prejudice as reflected by the daily blogs, will have readily discerned from the above-mentioned undertaking by the Developers, a clear intention, to engage public participation, in shaping the ultimate and final development concept for the Waterfront.

Indeed, the ADP team have merely illustrated, a potential development concept for discussion, and suggestion purposes, from all vested interests (members of the public), towards the ultimate shape of a final concept, and unlike some daily bloggers, even the supporting verbiage, is absent of vitriolic and oblique racial references, concerning any of the parties related to this project.

Other facts

The prior administration at City Hall were well immersed into the Waterfront Development, together with a group styled as the “Waterfront Development Steering Committee”, or a hybrid of Bermuda First, whose membership included, the previous Mayor Charles Gosling, Premier Cox, Gil Tucker, Phil Butterfield, Kerry Judd, KPMG, Steve Beatty, Betty Cassell, Patrick Phillips, Oliver Whayman and others, inclusive of Sir John Swan, who was in attendance at some of these meetings.

Of interest, the former Mayor Charles Gosling on behalf of his administration, is on record in one of those meetings, stating in part “we (COH) have invested so much into the project, that we have to proceed with it.”

The minutes of those meetings include many positive statements, and urgings by the former Mayor, and other members of this former exclusive “Bermuda First/Waterfront Development Steering Committee”, during which Sir John was in attendance on occasions.

As an effort to keep the facts straight, Sir John is on record as early as 2005, with a proposal/interest in developing the Waterfront, (there is no record of a “request for proposals advertised at that time”), and similarly no outcry from the public “that it is the people's property, or raising public interest grounds, or indeed attempts to pitch concerns in respect of this project, on moral grounds.”

One can only conclude, at the material time, that it was considered an opportune moment to secure this project.

In fact, the Waterfront is and remains the “people's property”, and the custodians (COH) on their behalf, merely recognised their capital limitations, in terms of developing the Waterfront out of its limited resources, and acted entirely within the ambit of the provisions of the Municipalities Act, and secondly no different from the agenda set by the previous administration.

This current administration, Mayor, Aldermen, and Council members deserve credit for continuing this ambitious objective, of moving the Waterfront project along, together an obligation posited upon the Developers, to consult broadly with the public (vested interests), and they should not be subjected to attacks through the daily blogs.

In fact, unlike the previous private and select members of “the Waterfront Development Steering Committee/Bermuda First group”, the present administration, at least gave the whole process a visible cloak of legality, in that a well advertised invitation was extended to the public, to submit bids, and it may be that many of the current vocal opponents, ought to have entered into the bidding process.

Additional facts in answer to the critics

When the ADP team were initially considering their application in response to the advertised “request for proposals”, a visit was made to Sjur Linberg of Linberg & Simmons for the purposes of formally inviting them to join the ADP team, in response to which, he expressed “no interest if Sir John was not going to join.”

Following this response, a further call was made to Sir John Swan, formally inviting him to join in the ADP team, in response to which he expressed “that he was not interested,” and made no effort, unlike others to make a submission of his own to the Corporation of Hamilton.

Thus no application was made by either Linberg & Simmons or Sir John Swan in response to the well advertised request for proposals. Subsequently, the public record will show, the negative aspersions cast upon the whole process by Sir John Swan in the public media.

Despite these facts, “the Developer turned the other cheek” and visited 141 Front Street, to extend a further invitation to Sir John, to consider chairing the Development Committee, and again, the Developer was rebuffed, and similarly by some of the other individuals whose names are set out above, when approached to consider joining the Development project.

If these facts are denied, there is other information available, where another related group, by invitation visited 141 Front Street concerning the Development, and it would be wholly inappropriate to recite the nature of those conversations, or the unfruitful nature of that visit.

Conclusion

For the daily bloggers who suggest that Government ought to unravel or shred the lease, or that it be torn up, should at least consider the provisions of s.13 of the Bermuda Constitution Order, as it is understood the Lease is deemed to be property, and provides in part: “that one cannot be deprived of their property, without adequate and immediate compensation.”

Instead of wasting so much energy on negative attacks, the bloggers ought to use their energy to make responsible suggestions or submissions to the Developer and his Committee, which composition is broader based, than the exclusive few (Bermuda First/Waterfront Development Steering Committee) led by the former Mayor.

When all this is considered, the respective consciences of those bloggers, may give rise to a new courage, to accept and respect the current Mayor, (who has merely advanced the agenda of his predecessor Charles Gosling).

The current Mayor and his team are wholly undeserving of the relentless attacks by the daily bloggers, whom it is hoped should have no difficulty in distinguishing between those whose self interest is evident and on record in respect of the Waterfront, as early as 2005, and did not include those of our friends, who live in the “back of town”.

Now that you have some of the facts, you should begin to ask for a credible explanation, from those whose mouth is the loudest on this project.

Bermuda needs to do some soul searching, as it is clear, certain segments of this community appear unwilling to accept change, and instead find it convenient to hide their nasty antisocial attitudes, behind the cloak of daily blogs.

To our friend Stuart Hayward of BEST, may I suggest you ask either City Hall, or the Department of Planning, for an opportunity to peruse a copy of the EIS report for this project, which it is believed had been filed with that department sometime ago.

Just Watching

City of Hamilton Waterfront.(Photo by Akil Simmons)

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Published August 13, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated August 12, 2013 at 7:11 pm)

A different view of Hamilton waterfront

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