The Hope Town District Council met on September 18, 2018, in the community center provided by the Baker’s Bay Golf and Ocean Club on Guana Cay for community functions. It is located north of town on the edge of the resort property. Adjoining the public assembly room was a small conference room suitable for the meeting.
The issue of insufficient rental carts on Elbow Cay was discussed at length with no satisfactory resolution. Apparently, the countrywide moratorium on additional rental vehicles is being reviewed by central government and may be lifted. However, there is no change at the moment. A letter was authorized asking Cabinet to lift the moratorium. An interesting twist to the dilemma was noted by an oversight in either the Local Government Act or Road Traffic regulations.
Road Traffic matters for Abaco’s three District II Councils are resolved by a statutory board comprised of members of North, South and Central Abaco districts. However, the District III Councils of Moores Island, Grand Cay, and Green Turtle Cay do not have a road traffic board. All the traffic on these cays is confined to each island without interaction elsewhere. However, in the case of the Hope Town District Council, three separate settlements are within the district but separated by water. The question arose whether a golf cart company on one island within the district could move golf carts into another settlement in the district. No one present was able to give a definite answer. Advice is being sought.
A community refuse bin at the foot of Big Hill on Elbow Cay was authorized to be removed. It was placed there to consolidate nearby residential refuse collection. However, it was being used by businesses and contractors for their commercial refuse as a means of avoiding a trip to the island’s refuse collection site.
Extensive conversation centered around Elbow Cay’s North End residents being able to circumvent vehicle restrictions within the historic part of Hope Town as there is no restrictive gate on the north side of town. There is a gate on the south edge of town by the Post Office with approximately 175 persons holding keys. It was noted that although the Council has the authority to issue keys to the gate, it does not have the authority to allow traffic to go beyond the Methodist Church, which is a well-defined statement within the Bahamas Road Traffic Act.
The appeal on a local business’ application for a second story was heard six months ago, but no decision has been made. A letter is being sent to the Minister urging a decision.
The Parliamentary Registrar is being contacted about the need for an election for the vacant Council seat in Hope Town. The vacancy occurred six months ago, but there has been no visible effort to hold an election. A letter inquiring about this will be sent.
Dredging was noted which did not have permission. Authority can be given locally for maintenance scooping or silt removal around docks. Heavier dredging efforts require permission from Nassau authorities.
On adjournment about 1 p.m., Council members met informally with executives of the Baker’s Bay resort for a casual up-date of Baker’s progress. An interesting sidelight is its purchase of LNG-fueled generators which is expected to reduce their fuel costs by 15 percent or more. The fuel will arrive in containerized pallets as is now being done in Freeport.
The Baker’s Bay executives were asked about their industrial incinerator for reducing refuse volume. Presently, refuse costs about $500 per container to ship to the mainland. Apparently, the challenge is educating residents to separate refuse as is commonly done in many U.S. communities. The incinerator cannot cope with metal and glass, But no one makes any effort to separate these items from the refuse that can go in the incinerator. It was reluctantly admitted that even the resort’s foreign residents who routinely separate items back home do not make the effort here since everyone knows there is no recycling effort. Baker’ Bays is working on this aspect as there is a huge benefit in reducing the volume and expense of shipping refuse off the island. If this can become successful, it has potential many cays.
Council members from Hope Town and Man-O-War, along with the administrator from Marsh Harbour, put in a long day, having left about 8:30 in the morning and returning about 5 pm. Lunch was provided at Baker’s Bay.