Cherokee Sound residents hosted a Town Meeting with persons attending from Yellow Wood, Winding Bay, Little Harbour, Casuarina and Bahama Palm Shores. The Chief Councillor of South Abaco, Jacqueline Estevez, moderated the meeting which was called to order at 7:00 p.m., with approximately 50 persons attending. An opening prayer was given by Michael Knowles of the Cherokee Town Committee.
First to be introduced and speak was the Island Administrator for South Abaco, Lavon Harris-Smith, who gave a brief report on the future plans of the Government for the South Abaco constituency. She stated that repairs to the roads would be starting in Sandy Point and proceed to the north.
Next, Josefina Curry, Office Manager for the Department of Agriculture, explained to the audience about obtaining Government land and the procedures in applying for these Farming Grants and the subsidies available to assist the applicants.
Kimberlee Wells, Office Manager for the Office of Environmental Health, explained why they could not fog at this time because of the rains, which nullify their purpose if they do not have, at least, three full days without rain for the chemicals to eradicate the infestation of mosquitoes.
The problem of the local dump sites were brought up next. Cherokee’s Dump, which has always been a problem and is costing a lot to maintain, was discussed. With spring tides it is a floating soup of refuge and a real danger to the beaches and mangroves which surround it.
The Administrator stated that they are trying hard to solve the problem and are still in a quandary as to a new location to make sure that once it is moved it does not cause additional damage, especially to the ground water.
The spokesman for The Abaco Club at Winding Bay offered a large piece of plastic sheeting suitable for underlining the new pit site which they would make available. It was agreed, by all those present, that something had to be done soon. Residents complained that the dump in Bahama Palm Shores is very inconvenient and long ways off the main road, which explains why garbage is dropped all along the road instead of at the designated dump itself.
Marques Williams from the Port Authority and Ministry of Maritime Affairs was asked to attend the meeting to help answer some of the questions by the residents of Little Harbour regarding a private marina now being planned. Also attending to help answer questions was Tom Southworth, son of the new owner of The Abaco Club at Winding Bay, as well as Mark Aitken, the General Manager. Nick Sims of the Sims Group Limited and spokesman for the proposed building of the marina was also there to assist with questions.
Although Little Harbour is three miles distance from The Abaco Club at Winding Bay, they have water on both sides of their property, and their water parcels are not suitable for access by the yachts owned by their members. On one side is their hotel’s shallow beach area and on the other is equally shallow Cherokee Sound, which is a protected breeding ground for many varieties of sea life.
To accommodate their members, the owners of The Abaco Club at Winding Bay have purchased property in Little Harbour and wish to build a new marina, bar and restaurant exclusively for the use of their members. A bait and gift shop would also be built which would be open to the general public. The initial plan is for a “U” shaped dock extending 165 feet into the harbor with facilities for twenty eight slips. The Abaco Club hopes it will enhance their business so that they can increase the number of boat slips to forty four sometime in the future.
There were Little Harbour residents present who had concerns and many legitimate questions regarding the construction of this new marina. They were concerned about their long-term moorings which may need to be relocated. They were also concerned about the light and noise pollution, the disruption of resident traffic when construction begins, and the wear and tear on their one-lane road. Residents of Little Harbour were extremely worried about the environmental impact this increased traffic within the harbour area would have on the sea life, particularly sea turtles.
Some residents of Little Harbour, as well as others, have protested the construction of the marina facility.
A small boat ramp was requested for public use and the Club’s spokesman agreed it was something that could easily be added to the project. He tried to answer their questions as best he could as well as outlining their proposed plans for a properly managed, all-inclusive docking facility for their guests.
He said they plan a rainwater collection and a desalinization system, a sewage pumping station for the marinas visiting yachts, a permanent Dock Master, necessary security cameras and lighting, which he said would not only protect their docks, but the majority of Little Harbour’s moorings as well.
He stated Winding Bay had no plans for a fueling facility, but understood another entity outside the Club was considering such a facility. He also told the audience that if and when the building permits were approved that Mr. David Southworth, the new owner of The Abaco Club at Winding Bay, would proceed as soon as possible with the renovations and reconstruction work necessary to complete the project, as they are anxious to accommodate their guests.
Marques Williams, Assistant Port Director for Abaco, assured the people from Little Harbour that nothing had been settled yet with regard to the permission to build the marina, but that they would take into consideration all their concerns.
At the present time they are attempting to complete their investigations before submitting their full report to the Port Authority Ministry in Nassau for final approval. He also reminded attendees to make sure their moorings were legally registered, but advised them that an individual mooring could be moved from their present placement to new coordinates to accommodate this project.
The owners of The Abaco Club at Winding Bay also made notes and would consider the additional concerns and suggestions brought out in the meeting and try to adjust their plans wherever possible.
It was a noisy, but seemingly fruitful, meeting.