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April 24, 2013

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Ryan Knowles

That last paragraph sums up everything that is wrong with development in the Bahamas. Of course, if we have not learned anything in the past 50 years, why should we start now?

Godfrey Lightbourn

As always, your articles are always very interesting, and I would never want to miss one. Your research is specially to be commended.

In my days as Cavalier Construction, I believe I can safely say we were involved in each area, and in later years we connected it all with the water pipeline.

I started construction in Eleuthera in 1957 after completing Peace & Plenty in Exuma. Built a house for H.G. Christie in Double Bay at cost plus, and was paid all except the plus! It did get better after that.

We had been building in Eleuthera for a considerable time, but involvement started at Cotton Bay when Henry McNeill, chairman of Johnson & Johnson, called me. He sent his plane for me and family, and had us all to lunch at the Cotton Bay Club and then said he had some preliminary plans for a home, but his architect had died and he would also like to get into it for Thanksgiving!

A handshake and I had materials ready for ordering and barge ready for Tuesday AM following the Easter Monday. We made it. At his house warming, he had all of Cotton Bay there. He had made some fake book-ends for his library. Two volumes stand out:

“ECONOMY BUILDING BY LIGHTBOURN AND PYFROM” and “HOWTO RUN AN AIRLINE BY JUAN TRIPPE”!!

We went on to build a home for a Mr. Wilson, chairman of Shell Oil, and Edgar Kaiser, son of the shipbuilding magnate during WW 11. He had duplicate everything in the home from AC to a 10 car garage

We continued off and on in Eleuthera from Governor’s Harbour to Palmetto Point to Windermere Island, where we arranged finance to build the extension to the Windermere Club and also built some homes.

For the Devos family we started development at Powell Point, now Cape Eleuthera. From there we designed and dug a marina with our own equipment, and constructed the shore facilities for the Carnival Cruise Ship stop-off at Bannerman town. During that time I remember meeting Frankie Wilson about ongoing possibilities, but nothing further.

That concluded our activities in the South, but we constructed Club Med at Governor’s Harbour in 1979/80, and our final wrap-up during my time was the Pineapple Fields Condo Hotel on which my son Christopher took the lead. My mark is left by my name applied to the beach restaurant there: TIPPY’S!

Best wishes, and please continue your very special articles.

Peter Maclean

Forgive me if I indulge in enlarging on a couple of points and also comment on your excellent article recently on Eleuthera, more specifically the south.

The South Eleuthera Mission was registered as a Bahamian non-profit, and owes it existence to Chandra Sands leadership as you so rightly state, but equally as important to its existence are the donations from the second home owners still resident in old Cotton Bay, such as Sally Searle whose
family you mentioned, and Marjorie Findlay and Barrie Jordan. Perhaps most significantly (and I apologise for
being self-asserting) my wife, Patricia Rose, who oversaw the restoration, the likes of which I would venture, have not been repeated: with so much attention to detail: by local contruction workers: at such a low cost anywhere in the Bahamas.

The Antiques, Monuments and Museums corporation (who officially own the Mission House and lease it to the South Eleuthera Mission company) also contributed to its costs but nowhere near the lion's share, which as I say came from the winter residents of old Cotton Bay.

Today, its two main deliverables are an after-school mentoring programme and a summer educational course for all students in South Eleuthera. In these core additional learning opportunities it has been relatively successful. However there is no doubt it could be far more so if local ‘politics’ did not prevent the unity such a charitable institution deserves. It is hoped that these issues can be overcome in the future.

With regard the other issues you refer to, you missed mention of the Woodprince farm across and down from the Rock Sound Club with their 1000 odd head of Charleroi Cattle and well over 300 horses for the cowboys that ran it.

We currently live on a house we have built on the ridge in the old farm's admin area overlooking the wildly overgrown verdant farmland to the North and South which, compared to the Leon Levy Preserve at Governor's Harbour, is real nature in the raw. The farm died in the 1980’s due to the younger generation of the Woodprince clan not being inclined to farming.

Not all of the horses were carried back to the US and there were until recently some 30 roaming in feral herds. Sadly a lack of interest and local ‘money seekers’ led to the majority being killed during an abortive capturing attempt prompted by yet another foreign investor not wearing local shoes. There are now just three left.

With regard the Lighthouse beach complex. One of the problems is that many locals believe they would be better served with jobs by another monolithic ‘would-be four star’ resort, but there is no reason why a national park would not lend itself to far more to jobs .......wardens,
souvenir shops etc.

Eleuthera is definely bucking the trend of tourism. More foreigners (including Europeans) are visiting than we have seen since we came in 2001.

The government is concentrating on Governor’s Harbour and the north, and the night life for foreigners, especially around the Bank’s Road, is definitely more conducive than that in the South. But those that are looking for the ‘Robinson Crusoe’ lifestyle come this way.
.

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