Disney is one step closer to calling Lighthouse Point, Disney’s Lighthouse Point after Bahamian Prime Minister announced the government is choosing The Walt Disney Company’s proposal. Today’s approval gives Disney Cruise Line a green light to move ahead plans to purchase the 700 to 800-acre Lighthouse Point property at the tip of South Eleuthera for a second private cruise destination. EyeWitness News reported the decision just before before the 3 o’clock hour.
Below is a copy of the press statement issued by The Bahamas Cabinet.
19 October 2018
The Lighthouse Point Development has been the subject of considerable public discussion, particularly in recent months.
The National Economic Council considered the matter today, 19 October, and approved the proposal submitted by Disney Cruise Line Island Development Ltd.
Negotiations will now begin on a Heads of Agreement, which will detail the scope of the project, the obligations of the Disney Cruise Lines Island Development Ltd. and the obligations of the Government of The Bahamas.
The negotiation of the Heads of Agreement will commence immediately. When concluded, it will be presented to Parliament in keeping with the government’s commitment to transparency and accountability.
The Cabinet Office wishes to emphasize that the land which is the subject of the proposal is privately owned. It has been on the real estate market for a long period.
The land is not Crown Land and is not owned by the Government of The Bahamas.
The Disney Cruise Lines Development Ltd. has a sales agreement with the land owner to purchase the land.
The Cabinet Office notes that both the Disney Cruise Lines Island Development Ltd. and the One Eleuthera Foundation and its partners have been publicly noting their plans for the development of Lighthouse Point.
It is also noted that recent polling revealed that more than 60 percent of Bahamians “very much” or “somewhat” support Disney’s proposal for Lighthouse Point, Eleuthera.
The Cabinet Office is also aware of meetings held in the communities of Central and South Eleuthera by respective groups, and live radio broadcasts, which have allowed individuals to express their views.
During one of his regular town hall meetings, this one held at the Green Castle Primary School on 10 October 2018, the Prime Minister informed the people of Central and South Eleuthera of the Government’s plans for the nation and listened to their concerns.
During this meeting overwhelming support was expressed for the Disney Cruise Lines Development Ltd. proposal.
The Cabinet Office notes that prior to that town meeting, the One Eleuthera Foundation and its partners held several community meetings in Central and South Eleuthera to promote their proposal.
This included meetings at Wemyss Bight on 27 July, Deep Creek on 10 August, Tarpum Bay on 17 August, Rock Sound on 31 August and Bannerman Town on 7 September 2018.
Some of the core elements of the Disney Cruise Lines Island Development Ltd. proposal which are of fundamental importance and to which Disney is committed, include: low density development and sustainable design, public access, and the restoration of various historical and cultural sites.
The development will create approximately 150 new jobs and an array of entrepreneurial opportunities for residents of Eleuthera and Bahamians in general.
Disney will convey approximately 190 acres of the land purchased from the private seller to the Government of The Bahamas for conservation and a national park.
Other elements of the project include: the integration of Bahamian cultural and artistic expression into the design of the site and experiences offered, and partnership with the community to develop training and professional development programs.
The Disney Cruise Lines began its cruises to The Bahamas in 1998.
Since that time, the economic impact on the Bahamian economy has been significant. With the development of the Eleuthera project an increase in port calls to Nassau is also projected.
The Government notes Disney’s record of environmental stewardship and will ensure that the project is implemented in a manner which safeguards our environment and the interests of the people of The Bahamas.
The Government of The Bahamas having taken into consideration the views of the majority of the people of Central and South Eleuthera is satisfied that it has made the best decision in the interest of the Bahamian people, a sustainable future for the people of Central and South Eleuthera and the economic development of the country.
I think one of the key factors in the Cabinet’s decision aside from the revenue stream that will be generated by Disney Cruise Line is that the Lighthouse Point property is privately owned. The property has been on the market for a long period. The land is not Crown Land, therefore, is not owned by the Government of The Bahamas. Disney Cruise Line has a sales agreement with the land owner to purchase the land.
What’s next? Disney and The Bahamas will negotiate a Heads of Agreement that will then be presented to Parliament. One Eleuthera’s press release claims there will not be an economic impact until at least 2023.
“We are excited to reach this important milestone and look forward to working with Government and the people of The Bahamas to create new economic opportunities while preserving the natural beauty of Lighthouse Point. We are grateful for the warm welcome and support we have received from so many in Eleuthera and look forward to further developing relationships that will endure for many years to come. In the short term, we are focused on reaching an agreement that is mutually beneficial for The Bahamas and our company, as well as moving forward with an environmental impact assessment and environmental management plan. Our team also looks forward to working with local artists, historians and others as we ensure that the stories and culture of The Bahamas shine through when Disney guests and Bahamians alike visit this special place.” — Jeff Vahle
Disney Cruise Line’s Vice President of Public Affairs, Kim Prunty, told Tribune 242 an environmental impact study (EIA) could take months which Disney will work with the government on this effort. The Bahamas Planning and Subdivisions Act from 2010 requires complete EIA for proposed projects such as Disney’s Lighthouse Point development. The required EIA would be submitted to the Department of Physical Planning as part of the proposed development which is either likely to give rise to significant affects on the environment, of national importance, proposed for sensitive lands, significant in terms of size or complexity, of a nature that may have potentially adverse environmental effects or is considered a development of regional impact.