July 14, 2017
Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Works and Member of Parliament for Central Grand Bahama, Iram Lewis, brought hope to the residents as he outlined a number of proposed plans for the island, harnessing its "natural jewels," or startling beauty, to boost the economy.
During a Town Meeting on Thursday, July 13 at Church of God of Prophecy in Hawksbill, many residents of the area were receptive to the plans outlined to not only provide employment, but through public/private partnerships, provide opportunities for new businesses.
Stating that during the campaign, the theme in Central Grand Bahama was "Empower the People," and through these efforts, Mr. Lewis hopes to do this. "I believe that when we bring power to the people in the outlying communities, we have more stability and balance in Grand Bahama."
Explaining that while driving around the constituency, he noticed that the streets are not as well kept as they once were. "When you invite investors to come into your area, or guests coming to the home, the first thing you do is clean it up and make sure that it's presentable. So Phase 1 of our initiative is to clean up and we have successfully partnered with Sanitation Services and others who have given of their time" to assist in restoring Grand Bahama.
This effort, he said, it is hoped will continue throughout the island and once the island is clean, then the landscaping initiative will start. The roadways, he said, will be landscaped and parks provided with lights. Once presentable, then the investors will be invited to come in.
"What I discovered during my campaign was the shoreline of Grand Bahama has a lot of natural jewels that can benefit the people. When I travel from Mack Town all the down to Hepburn Town all I see are opportunities."
There exists a blue bar that sits on the water in Mack Town. This, he said, is nice and a natural environment where locals can be invited to have a fish fry and craft market.
Other areas he pointed out for development of themed parks include: an area near St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, Grandma's House, the Mermaid Pond, the Industrial Park, a bird sanctuary, a lighthouse, and a Boiling Hole.
All of the theme parks will be eco-friendly, and all of them will be accessed by either water taxi where they will start at Mack Town and make stops along the way, or possibly by inland tram system.
"So you will have an experience as you travel from East to West, once we will have perfected this model, we will take it into other parts of Grand Bahama. Williams Town will be connected to West End and the whole shoreline from East to West will become an eco-adventure park."
The idea behind the proposed plans, said Mr. Lewis is "economic empowerment." As it stands, when visitors come to the harbour, rather than filtering through the local economy, they go to Port Lucaya. Referencing the area in Pinder’s Point near the harbour, if a connector road is opened, he continued, it will "open an economic lifeline directly from the harbour where tourists can filter directly through Secco Town to Pinder's Point." This will take place once the theme parks are developed.
"So, we are going to clean up, we want to beautify, we want to develop these parks and we've been talking to local corporate donors: Buckeye, Bahama Rock, BTC. They are all interested and want to see these theme parks developed. We want to make sure that it is something that is not developed on a one-time basis. They will manage these theme parks, they will be able to brand these theme parks with their logos and they will put in a recurring budget each year so it is maintained and kept to a point where it is always inviting."
This, he said, is phase 1. Once this is done, then other areas of the constituency will be addressed, but they will start with the "foundation communities," the ones there in Grand Bahama prior to Freeport.