Some concerns and doubts remain as hotel’s SDO is passed by Senate
This is the concluding part of Friday's debate in the Senate on the revised SDO for Tucker's Point. The first part of the debate was published in Saturday's newspaper.
Opposition Senate Leader Jeanne Atherden said she learnt that only developments of national importance could apply for an SDO and said: “I was advised it was [for] the rejuvenation of the tourism product.”
Still Sen Atherden questioned whether the development was actually going to assist with tourism development.
“For me it was more what I would call getting into the sale of property and getting into enabling of business to turn around and get with the financial problems it had gotten into.”
She said the amendments made to the SDO showed “some improvements” but said there were still some concerns and there hadn't been the level of consultation she would have wanted.
National Security Minister David Burch said it bewildered him that two members of the Opposition complained they were not briefed on the amendments of the SDO.
He said: “This is an admission of the extent of disarray in the UBP.”
Sen Burch said: “The fact that [Sen Atherden's] colleagues were not briefed could not be the Government's fault. You are supposed to be the leader.”
According to Senator Burch the Island had to ask itself whether it is “open for business or not” and “are you in the tourism industry or not”.
He said the previous week those in opposition to the SDO expressed their concerns. He said those were taken into consideration and “its still not good enough”. Sen Burch said it was “dishonest to suggest that those who support the SDO do not love Bermuda and are not concerned about our welfare”.
According to the Government Senate leader, only those who are Bermudian are entitled to say and write what they like to him.
Senate President Carol Ann Bassett said it was important for the Island to start looking into finding a third pillar of the economy.
She said the two that the Island currently relied on are “not going to take us into the future, not with the changes we are seeing in the world today.
“We need a third pillar that brings in the foreign currency we need to run our Island.”
She raised questions about what would happen to the land if development was not started within the next five years and asked how long the environmental studies were expected to take on the property.
In the end she gave her support to the amended SDO and said: “I do believe the land Bermuda is getting is priceless. It will enhance the tourism product if its dealt with as soon as possible.
“I would hate for Bermuda to get this land and five years nothing is done to it...”
She hoped the development would open up opportunities for the National Training Board to “help Bermudians who were finding themselves out of the normal job”.
And said it could help them be retooled and ready when the opportunity for posts in the hospitality sector become available.
Addressing some questions posed by Independent and Opposition Senators Sen Burt explained that many of the accommodations had already been sold.
He said 100 percent of the hotel residences have been sold; 90 percent of the first resident's club have been sold; and 70 percent of the second resident's club have been sold.
Sen Burt said: “There are pending sales being held up because of the uncertainty going on.”
He also said the overall estimated time of the study would be six months. This includes forest, tree and skink surveys for one month each and a cave survey that would take between three to six months.