Emotional roller coaster for lottery home families is unfair Senator
It is “unfair” to promise families lottery homes in St David's and then dash their “hopes and plans” to move in before Christmas, said Shadow National Security Minister Michael Dunkley yesterday.
The Opposition Senator said he was disappointed to hear the low-cost East End homes would not be completed for the holidays and were now expected to be ready in the first quarter of 2011.
He criticised Government for “once again” missing a deadline for the lottery winning families to move into their homes.
“It has now been three and a half years since they held their winning tickets. The years since that happy time have been marked by delays and frustration in making a reality of their home-owning dream.”
On Friday, National Security Minister David Burch said the first four buildings, containing 58 units, were scheduled to be complete in the first quarter of next year. The funds from their sale would then go towards the construction of the remaining two buildings, he explained.
The Senate leader said he met with 50 of the 84 families who will eventually own the homes last week and promised to give them weekly updates on the project going forward.
“We fully recognise and share the disappointment felt by the lottery winners, but equally look forward to the day, very soon, when we can welcome them to their new homes at Harbour View Village,” said Minister Burch.
The homes were awarded in June 2005, but the project encountered challenges, such as protests from commercial tenants, as well as land owners Bermuda Land Development Company (BLDC) refusing to sell the entire plot.
Government was only able to acquire four acres of land, severely limiting the number of houses they would be able to build.
However, the project eventually broke ground on May 31, 2007.
Sen Dunkley yesterday said he took strong issue with Government's reasoning behind the claims the delay was caused by weather in 2009. “Surely weather is factored into planning,” he said.
He also disagreed with Minister Burch's claim the discovery of a large underground storage tank containing oil and sludge, which allegedly 'no one knew was there', contributed to the setback.
Government spent thousands of man hours surveying and drilling the former base lands to compile an accurate picture of its condition in the mid 1990s a picture they used to support their claims with the US Government for environmental remediation, he said.
“Last Friday's statement was prompted by the fact that the Government was again going to miss a deadline, this one a promise to house families at Harbour View by Christmas 2010.
“(Government) had to say something to the families and to the public at large. We're sorry the Minister didn't just admit management shortcomings. Instead the blame was heaped on bad weather in 2009 and a storage tank.
“We support the work to provide homes for first-time homeowners. Indeed, that was what Southside's original housing plans focused on. But Harbour View is a reminder that a promise must be followed by careful, competent management planning and execution.
“The Government can't just wing it, as the record for this project might indicate. It is unfair to put families through such an emotional roller coaster. But this is what has happened at Harbour View, and now families who were told they'd be in their new homes this Christmas have to live once again with dashed hopes and plans.”