After saying for years that I must go to Southlands, I finally went.
I was pretty excited. I’m not very good, but I like to take pictures and was hopeful that Southlands would provide some interesting material.
It did. But not in the way I was hoping or expecting. You will see some of them if you continue reading. It was exceptionally disappointing, to say the least, and made me research this blog post.
I didn’t research back too far, 2014, as it became obvious very quickly that the theme was the same: promises but no action.
(A quick reminder before you read on of how this all started as the Royal Gazette reported: Government formally obtained the Southlands estate in 2012 as part of a land swap, trading 80 acres of brownfield land at Morgan’s Point for the 37-acre property. The trade was seen as a victory for campaigners who had fought since 2007 for the Warwick property to be protected from a proposed hotel development.)
In November 2014, we had this story: The Bermuda Environmental and Sustainability Taskforce [BEST] has responded to the 2014 Throne Speech saying that while they are disappointed that there was no mention of Southlands becoming a public parkland or of pesticide-related issues, there “was much we can comment positively on.”
The same month was this story: After “extensive consultation “with the Historic Buildings Advisory Committee, Minister of Home Affairs Michael Fahy has proposed that Somerset Bridge be designated a Historic Monument Listed Building, and that Southlands Cottage in Warwick be designated a ‘Grade 2’ or Listed Building.
In the following January, this was published The Minister of Home Affairs Michael Fahy today [Jan 8] advised that Somerset Bridge — the smallest drawbridge in the world – has officially been designated as a Grade HM Structure [Historic Monument] and Southlands has been designated as a Grade 2 Listed Building.
In January twenty fifteen this was reported The Minister of Home Affairs Michael Fahy today [Jan 8] advised that Somerset Bridge — the smallest drawbridge in the world – has officially been designated as a Grade HM Structure [Historic Monument] and Southlands has been designated as a Grade 2 Listed Building.
In July twenty fifteen (my five key does not work ….) there was a story about plans for a community garden at Southlands. I could see no evidence of it.
This was also said at the time: Minister Cannonier said, “In our 2013 Throne Speech this Government committed to the creation of the Southlands National Park. Recognizing the importance of preserving this area we began with a process of public consultation that will culminate in the creation of the Southlands National Park.”
In another article about the community garden, we had this While the project was described as a step towards the South Shore property becoming a park, Public Works Minister Craig Cannonier said he could not give a timeline for when that will happen.
“We are still in the process of laying out those plans,” he said. “This is a very large area, but this is a first step in moving towards a national park.
“We have made a commitment to make that happen, we will make that happen, but certainly if you look out you will see there are other properties here, so we need to work out the logistics of some of those things and what happens to those properties.
“The next phase is there is another garden area on the other side. We need to be talking about that. We will be laying out the plans for that going forward. We still need to sit down and take a look at those things.”
Then this in November twenty fifteen An environmental group has lamented the lack of progress in making Southlands a national park.
The Bermuda Environmental and Sustainability Taskforce said it was “disheartened” that there was no mention of Southlands in the Throne Speech last week.
“We were disheartened that there was no mention of adding Southlands to the national parks system,” Mr Hayward said. “Until Southlands is codified as a national park, there is an ever-present risk that non-parkland uses will creep in.”
December two years ago was this story which was about restricting access to stop illegal dumping. The fact that this action had to be taken on a site that could become a national park speaks volumes about the way some people in Bermuda regard the environment.
November last year saw BEST once again ask about Southlands being included in that year’s Throne Speech as a national park.
This is the Throne Speech, there wasn’t.
In the meantime, the place continues to rot.
I am no botanist, but even I can see that invasive species seem to be taking over and, quite obviously, buildings are falling so far into disrepair that you wonder if they are salvageable.
It’s a long blog post, but remember this “Government formally obtained the Southlands estate in 2012”? Ok, Government is short of cash and it has a many priorities.
But that does not excuse such lack of action over something that could provide a superb attraction for locals and visitors. Have any other ideas for restoring this amazing property been explored?
If they have, what have they been, If not, why not? What is the reason for not fulfilling promises? If Government cannot do anything, can it create the framework for someone else to step in?
This could be, should be, a national resource. It is turning out to be a national disgrace.
Below are more pictures.