Members of the Central Abaco District Council opened the meeting with a gripe session directed to Police Chief, Supt. Noel Curry, who had been asked to attend. Council members of the four towns, Dundas Town, Marsh Harbour, Murphy Town and Spring City, had many complaints some of which related to police oversight while other issues were the responsibility of different agencies.
Complaints related to:
• areas where alleged drug deals were common
• roadside mechanic shops with cars in disarray
• junk cars on roadsides requiring tow truck removal
• visitor harassment and loitering by vagrants at the Union Jack Dock in Marsh Harbour
• unlicensed food peddlers at the Union Jack Dock
• bars not closing on time with noisy patrons loitering outside or patrons not dispersing when the bar closes
• bars and nightclubs allowing underage drinking
• prostitutes soliciting at some bars
• the primary school so full that Bahamian students are being turned away and asked to enroll in schools in other towns
• the Mudd and Pigeon Peas squatter settlements where unlicensed shops, flea markets and other services of all manner are openly doing business
• total disregard for town cleanliness with junk, appliances and refuse scattered all about
• loud car and motorcycle engines
• cars with loud amplifiers disturbing neighborhoods
• motorcycles performing one-wheel acrobatics
• government’s inability to reclaim a commercial lawnmower purchased by a township but in the possession of an individual.
Supt. Curry responded with a question: “How many of you in this room came here tonight with a disregard for our laws? Did you all use your seat belts?”
That softened the atmosphere.
But many of the problems require changes in community attitudes. Issues of the Mudd and Pigeon Peas will require a task force with many governmental organizations working together. Other issues relate to government’s rules on employees being domiciled after five years in a Family Island location.
Government workers, nurses, teachers, police and others get a housing allowance for five years when transferred to a Family Island. However, this benefit is terminated after five years, requiring the employees to find and pay for their own housing. At this point, it is difficult for government employees to be transferred as housing must then be provided at the new location and there is insufficient money or available housing for transfers.
After five years at a Family Island assignment, government employees effectively have a lifetime job at that location. Most government agencies are hampered in the effective transfer of those employed who may become indifferent to their job responsibilities.
Supt. Curry brought out that all infractions requiring police attention that may end in court or with disciplinary actions must be documented or substantiated by witnesses willing to testify in court.
Infractions cannot based on hearsay or rumor. It is rare that he gets a written complaint or a witness with enough substance to take further action.
A short presentation was made by David Ralph on behalf of the Bahamas National Trust and Friends of the Environment asking that the Council endorse a proposal to make a public waterfront park at Witch Point near Camp Abaco. It was noted that Councils and Town Committees are responsible for maintaining parks within their respective areas. But there is no provision or encouragement in the Local Government Act for making new park areas for their residents.
Government, with BNT’s assistance, wants more local parks and green spaces for public enjoyment. This need is particularly evident for Central Abaco as it is the country’s third largest population center
but has little to show for public spaces.
Council members agreed to write the BNT and give its encouragement to establishing a waterfront park at Witch Point.
A Marsh Harbour Council member mentioned a request to government that the present clinic building be assigned to the Marsh Harbour Town Committee for use as a library, museum and conference room for public meetings. The building will be vacant when the new hospital opens.