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Leave a legacy that will benefit us all

Early days: work going on at Cross Island this year in preparation for the 35th America’s Cup (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

It is very rare in Bermuda that nine acres of land suddenly appears on the market waiting for an entrepreneur, or entrepreneurs, to come along.

But that’s what is happening at Cross Island, at the Royal Naval Dockyard, and this presents an unheard of opportunity to create a legacy for Bermuda that will benefit the community for decades to come.

I accepted an invitation to become the chairman of the Cross Island Legacy Committee because I feel passionately about this country and its future, and saw in this a chance to help to create a game changer that could benefit Bermuda economically and culturally.

Cross Island will be the home of the America’s Cup Event Village next year and there is always the possibility that the “Auld Mug” will return to Bermuda in the future, using the same land.

However, at some stage, there will be a need for a long-term use and it would be foolish not to plan for that now — and that is what the committee is doing, by asking for the input of the entire community.

So far we have had some brilliant ideas: a sports centre, conference centre, a shipping container city for small businesses, a fish farm, and a sailing centre to build on the America’s Cup legacy. All these, if they went ahead, would provide jobs and help to bring investment to the island.

That is why this opportunity — I call it “nine acres of opportunity” — is so exciting because it has the potential to further boost Bermuda’s economy, thereby creating jobs and wealth for all of us.

Helped tremendously by Deloitte, the committee has been, and will be, asking stakeholders, community groups, professional groups and everyone in between for ideas. If you have not contributed already, you can via www.surveymonkey.com/r/CrossIsland.

Importantly, we do not want just your ideas, we also want your input on other people’s ideas — ideally, we would like to get a really good conversation going. You can see and comment on many of the ideas on our Cross Island Facebook page. Please tell us which ideas you support and why, and help us to improve and to develop the ideas that others have already submitted.

I also want to emphasise that this process is not necessarily about finding one big idea, one big development. The best solution may be lots of small ideas, so it is inclusive, allowing the average Bermudian a chance to participate and to benefit.

The deadline for your submission is July 31. The work of the committee will then start in earnest as we begin to digest and to analyse all the ideas.

My fellow committee members are Andy Burrows, from the Bermuda Tourism Authority, Joanna Cranfield, the business development manager at West End Development Corporation, Kirk Outerbridge, from the Department of Works and Engineering, Aideen Ratteray-Pryse, from the Department of Planning, Philip Seaman, of Pj Designs and a member of the Wedco, Elena Strong, from the National Museum of Bermuda, and Jonathan Starling, the executive director of Greenrock. We will all work towards delivering workable ideas to Wedco.

The committee will evaluate the benefits and costs of each idea against the following key objectives:

1, Economic Provides economic benefits to Bermuda

2, Environmental Is sensitive to the environment, surrounding historical significance and marine habitats

3, Financial Delivers a good return on investment for Bermuda; is financially viable

4, Social/cultural Is connected to Bermuda’s heritage and culture; provides social benefits to Bermuda

5, Structural Is a good fit for the location, physical site, and exposure to weather and elements

Once that is accomplished, we will pass our shortlisted recommendations to the Wedco board, which will then review and shortlist the ideas to form part of a public request for proposal process. We are confident that Wedco is committed to carrying out a transparent and inclusive RFP process in the next phase of this exciting endeavour.

This is a conversation worth having. It is a once-in-a-generation opportunity and I hope we will receive 60,000 ideas.

• Wayne Caines is chairman of the Cross Island Legacy Committee