In the midst of considerable excitement, The Abaco Club at Winding Bay finally changed hands on December 11, 2014 as Southworth Development purchased the property along with an association of homeowners as well as plans to inject several hundred million in improvements to the property over the next five to seven years.
Despite the overall positive tone of the purchase and plans as well as the rehiring of the majority of employees, a shadow has been cast over the property as residents and visitors of nearby Little Harbour learned of the Club’s plans for a 44 slip marina and more that would be located in their neighbourhood.
Residents of Little Harbour have since started a petition which, as of this writing, has 312 signatures. A website and Facebook page called Save Little Harbour has also been established to garner support against the building of the marina.
Complaints against the proposed marina, as seen on social media sites, their website and in letters, range from the size of the dock being too large, as well as the boats that would dock there; that it would crowd out current moorings; that it would ruin the quaintness of Little Harbour; and that having a fuel dock would compromise the environment.
One letter outlined concerns for a number of creatures, marine life and fauna that live in and frequent the area such as turtles, manatees, tropic birds, barn owls, mahogany trees, palm trees, bontia (a native plant) and coral.
The writer also noted that they were concerned with the septic holding for the proposed sundry store due to it being “basically just a 4×8 foot hole in the ground, only 35 feet from the harbour. It is totally inadequate for the proposed development.”
They added concerns for the dock, property and parking lot as all were susceptible to storm surge and flooding during hurricanes.
There have been numerous calls for Southworth to share an EIA for the project; however, residents say they have yet to see one and there is still no document posted to the Bahamas Environment Science and Technology (BEST) Commission’s website.
When contacted for comment on the opposition to their proposed marina, store and parking area in Little Harbour a representative of Southworth said they have no comment at this time.
However, David Southworth, the new owner of the Abaco Club at Winding Bay, met with residents of Little Harbour on January 8 of this year to discuss his plans with the community.
Mr. Southworth said he plans to put in a 44-slip marina in front of a private home owned by the Abaco Club, and convert the house itself into a sundries store, selling ice, beer and boat supplies, plus a snack bar. There would also be covered parking and a storage building across the road.
He promised there would be no fuel or power on the docks, and no boat storage. He said the EIA had already been done, and there would be “absolutely no dredging.” There would be a security guard, but no lights other than motion sensors. Power would be solar – like the rest of Little Harbour – with “limited generator backup.”
It was indicated that slips would be sold to Club members for around $125,000. About 10 slips would be kept for use by the Club itself. The largest boats would be 30-35 feet in length. If the docks interfered with existing moorings “a solution will be worked out.”