The Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, the Hon. Daniel Johnson, accompanied by the Prime Minister’s Secretary – Mr. Calvin Balfour, by the Ministry Under Secretary – Mr. Eugene Poitier and by Mr. Nick Dean, with IBS Integrated, attended a meeting at Baker’s Bay Golf and Ocean Club to discuss a potential partnership between the Club and the Ministry of Sports, Youth and Culture to build a sports complex on Abaco.
The delegation was met at the airport by a Baker’s Bay chauffeur and taken to Great Guana Cay on the Discovery II boat. Upon arrival on the cay, Dr. Livingston Marshall welcomed the visitors and invited them to breakfast. Dr. Marshall talked about the running of Baker’s Bay, such as the number of employees, on-going construction and the projected growth rate of the resort, among other details.
The Minister explained his vision of redirecting the flow of money into the country; “pushing the two ends together” in order to create a larger middle class and a stronger economy and inquired if the country could support other projects such as Baker’s Bay.
He also mentioned the Ministry’s intention to build sports complexes on three of the Family Islands- Mainland Abaco, Moore’s Island, Abaco and one in Exuma. The Minister also indicated his hope of entering into a partnership with the Club.
Breakfast was followed by a meeting with Mr. Michael Clark, the Vice- President of Construction and General Manager of Starfish Construction Company.
Minister Johnson began the meeting by expressing his respect for Baker’s Bay success and reiterated the possibility of forming a partnership with the resort “to see what could be done for the people of Abaco. People who have [athletic] potential do not have access to facilities,” he said, adding he would like Baker’s Bay to be a partner and an adviser as far as construction was concerned.
Mr. Nick Dean, representing IBS Integrated building services -an engineering design and consulting firm, gave a presentation of the proposed project which would entail restructuring the existing baseball field near Abaco Central High School, building additional fields, a basketball court, volleyball court as well as a new track encircling a soccer field, tennis courts, swimming pool and a multi –purpose trail.
Additional parking spaces and resurfacing of the existing ones will be part of the project.
A smaller complex focusing on track & field activities would be built on Moore’s Island. The complex would include a boarding school- type of environment that could accommodate visiting or training athletes.
“We want to make sure that all the venues meet international standards and that they will also serve as community centres,” said Mr. Dean. “We want to make sure we are developing athletes properly and will ask the ones who went to the United States to return home and coach.”
Mr. Dean described the role of IBS concerning the construction of the project. So far the preliminary work consisted of investigating the terrain with key stake-holders, completing the baseline report and commencing the Master Plan.
The next step will be to finalize the development schedule, to complete the Master Plan, to finalize the legal dimension of the site and get approval from the various agencies concerned.
Mr. Clark wanted to find out about the construction time schedule and requested to see the final Master Plan. He thought the project looked promising and would like to talk more to define a possible partnership.
“Once more information is available a strategy can be developed,” he said.
Minister Johnson brought up the point that the name of the proposed facilities would have to be chosen. He mentioned the importance of naming the right person, someone who has done great things for the community. He said that name would be linked with Baker’s Bay, turning the endeavor into a signature project.