What’s the time frame for completion of the Fishing Hole Cultural Village?
The government has not given recent updates and the once-highlighted sector of the Fishing Hole project has fallen under the radar.
However, The Freeport News had the opportunity to speak candidly with All Bahamas Construction (ABC) Company Limited President, Wolfgang Geiger, this past Sunday, December 2, and he provided the latest outlook regarding the village, which is adjacent to the bridge.
Geiger informed that the village area, which was proposed by the previous Perry Christie-led administration was intended to house fish vendors and provide other cultural aspects for visitors and guests alike, in hopes of providing additional economic opportunities for Grand Bahamians, artisans, and various craft entrepreneurs.
“This area was basically created for vendors, shops more or less. Dr. (Michael) Darville (Former Minister for Grand Bahama), at the time decided to build something that the tourists could enjoy as well. When this is finished and everything is nice and organized here, this will be an area that people can visit before they go into West End or, when coming back from West End. They can stop here, where they will have a fish market, local food, vendors. There will also be a boat ramp here as well.
“Former Prime Minister Perry Christie visited the site, about a year before the end of his term, and noted that the concept for a vendor and fishing village was nice but that he wanted it to be bigger, therefore a second phase was decided upon.
“We have dumped material for the time being on the site, but, a mirror image of the existing vendor booths was proposed, as well as a seawall, to protect the area from storm surge. If there is no sea wall, the water will be able to come up here,”Geiger explained.
The idea, he informed, was to build a replica of the vendor booths that already exist.
At the rear of the property, an area where the fishermen can clean their fish was also proposed.
“The future prospect would be to build a nice organized fish cleaning station, inclusive of access to fresh water, concrete tables, and an area for the proper disposal of conch shells in the back.
“This proposal is not one hundred per cent decided on now. This is why it has not been finished yet, because they are still trying to find money and get it funded.
“The idea was to clean up the mess, construct proper parking in the back for buses and other things.
“We are waiting on decisions. The vendor and fishing village is a part of the bridge project.
“They are more or less linked together. They are now working on finding a solution, how to deal with this situation here. This is now in the Cabinet. It is out of our hands right now. We always do what we can do,” stated Geiger.
He is impressed with the idea of a cultural village and thinks the area is ideal.
“I think that this is a great location. When you think about, when all of the debris is gone and there is a nice village here; when people are driving on tour buses, they can stop right here.
“Normally, if the weather is good, this area will be full with fisherman. This is actually the only boat launching ramp in this area. The other one is in Eight Mile Rock; but this one is used a lot,” expressed the ABC President.
Once they receive the go ahead from the Government, Geiger added that it would take about an additional three months to complete the already existing vendor space and parking lot and bypass road.
“When you drive on the north side of the construction site, that will also be paved later on, along with a nice parking lot. It will be nicely organized.”
Geiger added that the village would include a security booth, bus parking among other amenities. The entire project is expected to take place in two phases.
“The first phase would be to complete this vendor area that exists now, along with the road of course. If they decide to fund the replica, there could be a second phase with the fish-cleaning station in the back, which will be separated from the vendor’s area, and additional parking area.
“Hopefully, we will have some improvements here in this particular area, depending on the financial situation,” concluded Geiger.
Dr. Darville, in March 3, 2017, regarding the Fishing Village and Cultural Center emphasized that the area would be unique.
“The vendors’ village is progressing very well. If you go onto the Fishing Hole Road now, you will see that they are getting the ramp together; because it is a vital part of the fishing industry, where fishermen can have their boats launched into the water.
“The first phase of the vendor’s section is completed; we are now moving into the second phase, which means that we should have, if not, 28 to 30 booths that we will be able to create the cultural village and the fishing areas that are necessary for commerce in that area,” Darville explained.
“I am pleased that we are trying to replicate something very similar to Arawak Cay. If you look throughout the island of Grand Bahama, this is something that is the only place that the common man can have access to waterfront.
“With a corporate agreement between the Grand Bahama Port Authority and the government, we have access to that land where we intend to create a cultural village that will be fit for cultural events, as well as for our tourists to have another heritage site, where there can go to experience Bahamian cuisine, as well as arts and craft.”
At the time he added that local artisans will have the opportunity to sell their wares in the village, thereby creating a new center of commerce where local Bahamian businesses can survive and thrive.