What Morgan’s Point will look like when work is finished. *Photo supplied
What Morgan’s Point will look like when work is finished. *Photo supplied

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 3: The news that clear-up work has begun at Morgan’s Point has received a mixed response from opposition MPs and environmental groups.

OBA Senator, Mike Fahy, urged islanders to take Monday’s announcement by the Premier with “a big grain of salt”.

He said it was not the first time Government had revealed work had begun on the project to turn the old base into a luxury hotel resort.

While Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce (BEST) chairman Stuart Hayward called on Government to honour the original land-swap agreement and designate Southlands as public parkland.

Mr Fahy, shadow Minister for Environment, Planning and Housing, accused Government of making a “flurry of announcements about wonderful projects” in the build-up to an election.

He said: “I listened to the Premier’s announcement about the Morgan’s Point clean-up with great interest, but a certain sense of bemusement. It is a very tangled tale.

“The whole thing sounds a bit like the plot of a Three Stooges film.

“Will work start next week as scheduled?  Will it be completed on time?

“The Government does set a hot pace in this area. There were umpteen announcements made, for example, about the start of the Park Hyatt project in St George’s.”

The land-swap agreement involving Morgan’s Point announced earlier this year saw the old US base pass from Government to three developers to build a $2 billion luxury resort.

In return the Southlands estate in Warwick would become public property. Mr Hayward told the Bermuda Sun it was difficult to understand the delay in designating Southlands as public parkland.

He said: “We cannot lose sight of the promise to add the Southlands property to Bermuda’s bank of parkland.

“Remembering that it was the public outcry about the proposed development at Southlands that triggered the land swap making development at Morgan’s Point possible, we must keep the Southlands side of the bargain on track.

“All those people who mobilised through vigils, direct action, letter-writing, signing petitions and otherwise defending the Southlands property were promised the conversion of Southlands into parkland. The Bermuda public has given up over 200 acres of land swapped and leased in exchange for Southlands. They deserve to have their sacrifice rewarded by the honouring of the promise to remove Southlands from any possibility of development by designating the property in its entirety as public parkland.”

On Monday Premier Paula Cox announced remediation work to prepare Morgan’s Point for construction had already begun and that no unauthorized entry or storage on the site would now be permitted.

She said the progress with the development represented the “Government’s continuing commitment to providing the infrastructure to encourage investment”.

The project, which is being managed by the Office of Project Management and Procurement, is expected to create 40 jobs for unemployed Bermudians who will be trained to deal with asbestos on the site.

Ms Cox said: “OPMP has already begun to secure the perimeter of the Southampton site and to clear vegetation and other unnecessary obstacles in order for asbestos abatement works to begin in earnest on October 8, 2012.

“One of the challenges that we have discovered is that many persons have used the vacant land to store their property.

“Both the Government and the developers must ensure that there is no risk to life and limb and that all building equipment that is on the property is secured.”