The following Op-Ed was released today by Dwayne Robinson, Approved Candidate for Consitutency 30, Southampton East Central – One Bermuda Alliance…
The Bermudian public has witnessed back and forth in the media between the developers of the Fairmont Southampton and various groups who oppose the new proposed SDO.
As this saga continues, we have seen a gradual breakdown of the discourse from negotiations with the public to thinly veiled threats from Gencom Ltd. I struggle to find many cases of developers closing an operating hotel, allowing it to deteriorate, failing to pay its staff redundancy, and then selling themselves as the heroes who will save our economy.
Gemcom appears untrustworthy due to the negligence of the Premier, in presenting them to the public regarding to the SDO.
We all want Fairmont Southampton to be re-opened, however I ask you Bermuda, how much are we willing to give? Surely negotiating from our knees is not the way we wish to conduct ourselves, or the legacy we wish to leave our children.
I live in Southampton and my son will grow up directly underneath Fairmont Southampton. How do I tell him that we Bermudians were convinced that our island was so undesirable that there is nobody else who will invest in us? That we gave Gencom Ltd huge latitude to erect a concrete jungle, with units we don’t even know the selling rate for?
We have had various leaders join the song of the Premier and the PLP. That we should open our arms, and welcome the new SDO, that rewards the company who intentionally allowed the hotel which makes up 30 percent of tourism occupancy to breakdown?
I attended the town hall that the Southampton PLP MPs organized for the area residents to voice their concerns. Here is what I hoped to hear:
- A breakdown of why the increased SDO is needed, and how do the additional units make the project viable?
- How the increased traffic in the area will be addressed in detail? As road fatalities are already a concern.
- Why solar panels aren’t implemented in such a large build?
- Some attempts to allay the fears of our environmental groups.
- Waste management details, staff housing details, and assurances to surrounding residents who may be impacted by the construction.
- General discussion and information shared surrounding the SDO.
Instead, what I witnessed was a sales pitch better reserved for tourists. Selling the benefit of the hotel which nobody has objected to, while refusing to discuss the SDO which is the community’s actual issue. Now I do not hold the developers completely accountable for this situation, as companies will always look out for their best interest. Gencom Ltd has managed to negotiate a great deal for themselves and those looking out for our interests have let us down.
Based on the condescending attitude displayed by the developers, they have the leverage, and have been given assurances. Judging by how Gencom Ltd alluded to leaving Fairmont Southampton derelict, if they do not receive this SDO, it seems that consultation with the residents is only a formality. That those negotiating on our behalf have already given the guarantee of the SDO being passed and the rest of us are just along for the ride.
Are all Government MPs in favor of this SDO? I know one who isn’t, the former Finance Minister resigned over this deal yet has been silent during this debacle. I ask MP Curtis Dickinson, the man who was almost our Premier, to speak on this topic. The Premier and his cabinet do not seem willing to listen to the OBA, residents, or environmental groups. Maybe they will listen to someone within their own party. As a man who stood on integrity while challenging the Premier in a leadership contest, I hope to see that same integrity on display, when the people truly need it.