The conservation group known as the Abaco Defenders banded together to stop the clearing of land on private property that may be the remains of Carleton settlement, the first Loyalist settlement in Abaco. The group approached the operating bulldozer, stood in front of it with cameras running until it shut down. The group was able to explain their concerns to the operator and the General Manager of Treasure Sands, Tim Blakely.
“After our discussion Mr. Blakely said that no further clearing would take place on the site until further archeological surveying could be done,” said Ossie Hall, vice president of Abaco Defenders.
On May 4, Dr. Keith Tinker and senior archaeologist Dr. Michael Pateman of the Antiquities Monuments and Museums Corporations (AMMC), visited the site of the proposed expansion of Treasure Sand Club and Spa. The site might also be part of the site of Abaco’s first loyalist settlement. They were joined by a representative from the Abaco Office of the Prime Minister, Mr. Flowers, Save The Bays, and the Abaco Defenders along with journalist Larry Smith.
As Smith described in an article on the trip, “Remains of a loyalist-era settlement lie scattered over the landscape just off Treasure Cay Drive, the road that connects to the Abaco highway between the public beach and the adjacent creek. Last week, we collected brick and pottery fragments, bottle glass, and a heavily corroded iron object that looked like a ship’s cleat.”
Smith states that after the visit, Dr. Tinker was able to confirm that “there is sufficient evidence for the area to be considered a significant heritage site,” and called for construction to cease pending further investigation.
According to the Abaco Defenders at the site, Blakely explained to them that he was “underbrushing” the land to make way for AMMC to conduct their surveys, but the local group pointed out that his bulldozer was doubtlessly doing more harm than good.
During the visit of the AMMC, Blakley had told those present that he is researching the history of the Carleton expedition of 1783 to name his new pub after a pub in New York where the expedition may have been launched from.
The Defenders like the idea and see how great it would be to have the artifacts that are on the property catalogued and preserved with some of them being on display in the future pub and in Museums.
However, they point out that this can only be done if a proper archaeological survey can be performed to locate, map and document artifacts before any additional bulldozing and land destruction occurs.
The potential expansion of Treasure Sands has been the site of controversy with the Abaco Defenders groups objecting to dredging that took place in Sand Banks creek as a part of the development. The group has continually asked for information on the development so they can determine what the impact would be on the nearby creek, the road that comes in and out of Treasure Cay
In a recent town planning meeting attended by Abaco Defenders members and their legal counsel, the North Abaco Town Planning Board members admitted that they had no idea of the full extent of the development while considering the permit applications for several small structures on the Treasure Sands property. Permits were granted before the visit of the AMMC and without further knowledge as to how they will fit into the bigger picture of the proposed development.
“Without a Freedom of Information act it is difficult for anyone to get any information without the relevant Minister’s permission, including the town planning board. It doesn’t make any sense that they are supposed to make decisions without all of the information,” said Hall.
At the same meeting the representative for the Treasure Sands Club, Mr. Blakey, stated they were not doing a development only building “three wooden structures.”
“While we are generally in favor of development,” said Hall, “there are proper requirements that should be followed. Short cutting the procedure is not the way our elected officials should be allowed to operate on this project or any other project in the pipeline or under way.”
“We haven’t been able to determine if we are for or against this development, as we still don’t know what the development is, but we want to make sure that the residents have the chance to be consulted and that the people who live here will know how they will be impacted,” said Fiona Bootle, President of the Abaco Defenders. “we are trying to make sure that everyone is playing by the same rules and that our history and our natural resources can be preserved. We depend on the nearby creek to protect the only road in and out of Treasure Cay from flooding and storm damage and as a place for the fish we like to eat to grow up. They are too important to just give away without any say from those affected.”