Save The Bays Director, Fred Smith, ‘We want peace’

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Save The Bays Declares: ‘We don’t want war, we want peace. Issues are much greater than Nygard but offer has to be legitimate’

Fred Smith on Issues of the Day with Wendell Jones
Fred Smith on Issues of the Day with Wendell Jones

Declaring ‘we don’t want war, we want peace,’ Save The Bays director of legal affairs Fred Smith, QC said today the hundreds-strong environmental group would be willing to talk with fashion mogul Peter Nygard to end battles over land and marine environmental issues “if and only if he abides by the law.”

Smith’s comments came during a sometimes fiery hour on the midday talk show, Issues of the Day, with host Wendell Jones on Love 97.5. Several times during the show, the heated debate turned to what is often mistaken for a personal battle between neighbours, the successful designer Nygard and Louis Bacon, a decorated conservationist who is one of several well-known directors of Save The Bays, an organization that has nearly 9,000 Facebook fans and hundreds of members.

Smith repeatedly brought the talk back to the issues of unregulated development and government accountability, especially at the executive level.

“I don’t want war. Save the Bays doesn’t want war. Save The Bays wants peace,” said Smith. “The issues are much greater than Mr. Nygard but the offer has to be legitimate. Save The Bays only wants government and an international investor to abide by the law.”

The show was sparked by a November 30 surprise proposal by Nygard offering to settle with all parties and offer financial assistance in exchange for all legal actions against him being dropped. The proposal, published in local papers, drew a response the following day by Save The Bays.

“As 2015 draws to a close and we approach the holiday season,” the Nygard letter said, “let us bring this fighting to an end and reach a global resolution under which Mr. Bacon and I will each contribute a significant and mutually agreed upon sum of money to aid the disadvantaged and better the islands. In this spirit, I am writing to invite all of you and/or your representatives to participate in a settlement conference to explore a resolution to all outstanding disputes, including legal actions, to take place as soon as possible in Nassau or wherever is most convenient.”

Smith used the popular radio medium to accept the invitation with conditions – among them, that Nygard return the land to the condition it was when he purchased the property known as Simms Point in the mid-1980s and as he was instructed to do by the former FNM government. Save The Bays has alleged that Nygard violated the law for decades, acting without permits and exceeding permits that were granted, doubling the size of his property by illegally dredging Crown Land, building structures on illegally gained property and negatively affecting the marine environment and coastline, including Clifton Heritage Park and Jaws Beach. The Supreme Court has granted Save The Bays the right to proceed with the judicial review.

But that is far from the only legal action Save the Bays is engaged in and Smith invited Nygard to join the fight against pollution.

“Again, I extend an invitation to Mr. Nygard to join as a co-applicant and help fund the judicial review against BEC,” said Smith, referring to a legal action filed by Save The Bays against BEC for allegedly polluting Clifton Bay where local and visiting swimmers and divers have photographed massive oil slicks and it is believed that oil is seeping into the water daily.

“The real issue is whether the extension of the olive branch is legitimate and whether or not Mr. Nygard is being hypocritical in the offer,” said Smith. “Our beef is not with Mr. Nygard and it is not with development. Save The Bays is not opposed to regulated, lawful development. We applaud it. Our beef is with government. The only reason Mr. Nygard is involved is because he is involved in one judicial review.” And Smith reminded the radio audience that Nygard was invited to an all party meeting in June, but declined to show.

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