Eyewitness News is reporting that Jeff Vahle, President of Disney Signature Experience broke his silence in an attempt to assure Eleutherans the Lighthouse Point project will be different from the previous proposal and will involve little to no dredging. The report says Disney Cruise Line’s project will be environmentally friendly and bring a sustainable economic opportunity to South Eleuthera.
Vahle says the lack of information on Disney’s proposal has been the primary cause for alarm from those with passionate opinions on the potential development which is designed to have as little impact as possible on the natural environment. Disney stated they want to work with The Bahamas to create “an international destination that protects and sustains the natural beauty of this historic location; that creates quality jobs and opportunity for Bahamians; that celebrates the culture, and that strengthens the community in Eleuthera.”
The latest proposal includes giving more than 170 acres of the ~700-acre property to the Government for conservation. In addition, Disney intends to preserve the 100+ acres of salt ponds on the 700-acre parcel which has been on the market for quite some time. In the report, Vahle says Disney is committed to doing the right thing and would never risk the natural beauty of Eleuthera or the long-standing commitment in this space by doing otherwise.
Below is a second version of the Lighthouse Land Use proposal showing additional land allocated to the public. For comparison, here is the August 2018 version.
Disney Cruise Line plans to develop approximately 20% of the property for low-density use like the placement of beach chairs and umbrellas and the creation of small support structures for things like restrooms, shops, and dining. It was mentioned a ship would be in port three to five days a week year-round. Most importantly, Disney does NOT have plans to develop the southern-most point and will not all Disney guest to visit the area.
“We will use sustainable design and building practices for the areas we do intend to develop. For example, current plans include the construction of an open-trestle pier that would have a much smaller footprint and impact on natural ocean currents than a traditional pier design and that requires minimal, if any, dredging. We also intend to use solar power for much of our operation,” – Jeff Vahle
Disney Cruise Line claims it will also not prohibit locals from accessing the Lighthouse Point property and will provide full access to the property for Bahamians. The proposal would create 120 to 150 local jobs opportunities with wages higher than the Bahamian minimum wage with attractive benefits.
“At our other Disney destination, Castaway Cay, the current average wage is more than 50% higher than the Bahamian minimum wage and employees receive health benefits and work full-time schedules with the opportunity for overtime. With guests expected to be in port three to five days per week year-round and the need to complete a variety of projects on non-port days, these roles will prove much-needed employment stability. Beyond these employment opportunities, hundreds of indirect jobs will be created, along with positive economic impact through construction, port adventures hosted by Bahamians showcasing Eleuthera’s unique sites, opportunities for the sale of Bahamian goods, and relationships with Bahamian vendors and other partners.” – Jeff Vahle
Finally, Vahle says Disney has never been more committed to The Bahamas and its people, and they hope that the proposal for Eleuthera will become a model for sustainable development.
The Nassau Guardian reports top executives from Disney Cruise Line are scheduled to come to The Bahamas to lobby for the purchase of Lighthouse Point and a local public relations company has been hired to assist Disney with its campaign to build a cruise port on the plot of land.
Here’s what I think: The main reasons that people didn’t want were as follows: Dredging, and access to the actual point. Jeff clearly says this in the update, along with jobs. So, hopefully, this changes their tunes.
Did anyone else notice how long the pier is? I did a rough measurement on google earth and it shows 2700 ft! No way will DCL build a pier that long, that land use map is a little deceiving.
Jeff Vahle’s “words” do not change my tune. I want Disney to leave Lighthouse Point alone! Empty promises to me considering the history of private cruise ports…great research available out there contradicting this proposal and its benefits to local economies and the environment. Sure, could this be the exception? Possibly but I wouldn’t bet even a penny on that. Lighthouse Point is pristine, untouched and flourishing with marine life. The risk is too great with this proposal…Lighthouse Point should be protected. There are alternatives to this development and I am hoping the government listens to the opposing Bahamians and the stay over tourists (that are responsible for 90% of tourism expenditure in the Bahamas) and denies a private cruise port development. Furthermore, there are more reasons than what Alex lists above. Are those key points? Yes…but again, a lot of good research out there and I implore you to take the time to research it. A great starting point is as follows: