The Tucker’s Point Golf Club driving range is close to a cemetery where former residents of Tucker’s Town are laid to rest. Hotel president Ed Trippe said plans were underway to protect the cemetery. *Photo by Liz Campbell
The Tucker’s Point Golf Club driving range is close to a cemetery where former residents of Tucker’s Town are laid to rest. Hotel president Ed Trippe said plans were underway to protect the cemetery. *Photo by Liz Campbell
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WEDNESDAY, MAR. 9: A cemetery that lies in the path of stray golf balls at Tucker’s Point will be protected by the springtime, according to the hotel’s president Ed Trippe. 

Sentiments ran high during Sunday’s SDO tour of the property when participants saw balls scattered around the graves of original residents, who were forced to move from their homes in the 1920s to make way for tourism development.

While the cemetery is not in the direct path of hotel’s golf driving range, balls regularly stray off course.

“The decision was actually made a year or so ago to protect the cemetery,” Mr. Trippe told us yesterday.

“With all we have faced this year we didn’t get to it. We have undertaken to do it, certainly by this spring. It will be protected by a structure and planting.

“It hasn’t been much of any issue — it may have been since Sunday but certainly not before that. You can only get to it by going across the golf course — it is not an active cemetery anymore. I certainly understand [the sensitivity].”

Hoteliers were responsible for clearing the cemetery in the 1980s after it had was overgrown — this attracted praise from its trustees Marsden Church as well as the Tucker’s Town Historical Society.

The cemetery was one of 20 sites of environmental and historical importance that the organizers of Sunday’s walk believe should have prevented the Tucker’s Point SDO being passed in the House of Assembly last week. 

The public walk was jointly organized by the Tuckers’ Point Historical Society, The Bermuda Environmental and Sustainability Taskforce (BEST), Bermuda National Trust, Greenrock, Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda and SOS.

While organizers estimated that 2,000 people turned up on the day, Tucker’s Point says it counted 907 from the entrance to the walk.

The two-mile walk began at Quarry Ridge to the north west of the site at the entrance to the Government Quarry off Harrington Sound Road. Speaker Toby Butterfield introduced the walk by explaining that the ridge is made up of rare Walsingham rock formation and caves that support native woodland. It is proposed that the entire ridge be designated for hotel rooms and service infrastructure.

Other areas of significant environmental concern include a steep forested hill behind the mangrove-forested Compston Pond, where three more residential lots are proposed. Former government conservation officer Dr. David Wingate stood at the viewing station, telling walkers that the site was so steep, development would cause great damage to the woodland through access roads and terracing for foundations.

“Any development on this dense wooded hillside would totally devastate it,” he said. “The ones on Paynter’s Hill and Quarry Hill would be totally disastrous because they are in this rare Walsingham formation which is riddled with caves and vegetation. If you are going to develop any of those lots you might just as well bulldoze St. Peter’s Church and sell it off as a housing lots because that is the kind of damage to our heritage it will cause. It is so completely unworkable because if they tried to do it in full, they would end up severely in debt.”

Speaking of Mr. Wingate’s concern Mr. Trippe said: “In terms of the hotel extension, we don’t know how many rooms we will be able to build — it will depend on the market conditions that exist at the time and the environmental studies of the Walsingham formation. If we are allowed to build on Quarry Hill it would be done after a great deal of study but we should be able to do so without invasion.”

Some 53 lots are proposed for Catchment Hill which, Mr. Wingate explained, would encroach into the steep wooded hillside in the northern and eastern sides.

Over to the east of the site at the top of Paynter’s Hill, the group was shown a cluster of yellowwood trees by the water tower where two development lots and a linking estate road are proposed. This plot is home to 17 of the 19 yellowwood trees left in Bermuda and an organizer manning the viewpoint explained that the proposed development would “obliterate most of this forest”.

Mr. Trippe said: “If we are building anywhere there we need to go through the full planning process — we need to do environmental studies and we need to show that we are protecting the woodland areas — we wouldn’t be anywhere near a yellowwood tree,” he said.

The SDO is due to go before the Senate on Wednesday, March 16.

If the Senate approves the order, the plans will still have to go before the Development Applications Board but planning experts say the powers of the board to veto development would be limited.