BEHOLD THAT GREAT SHALL SOON COME!
Nassau, The Bahamas – The devastation which resulted from the February 14, 2011 inferno that raged through the Betty K Agencies and destroyed a number of buildings and businesses in the immediate area, may soon become a downtown waterfront green space.
“The Betty K shipping operation was scheduled to move to Arawak Cay in May. It was a historic building and one of our oldest buildings, however it’s now going to be a green field and we will have to determine in consultation with them what is the best and most appropriate use for it,” said Environment Minister, Earl Deveaux.
“There was some consideration previously to [Government] acquiring the property. I’m not sure if that will happen now. Once the place is cleared and the shipping is moved, we have more options as to what happens downtown.”
The fire department worked to save the structure of the buildings from collapsing, so that combustibles within the debris could be safely removed after the blaze was extinguished.
“This was a huge fire and an intense fire. Fortunately, they were able to keep it as confined as they could. The Fire Marshall investigated and found that the fire started in the telephone box,” said Minister Deveaux.
The reference was to a faulty telephone electrical box in the C. Trevor Kelly building.
“Once the Fire Department seized control of the environment, they assessed the damage of the surrounding buildings. You may have noticed they were putting lots of water on the surrounding buildings to be sure there was no structural impairment to the integrity of those buildings, and then they could meticulously remove the debris,” he said.
Minister Deveaux was reassuring that the emergency team dispatched from his Ministry and National Security had secured an emergency plan to save Bay Street.
“Having now gotten the Betty K building under control, and securing the other buildings, they would start completing the job of demolishing,” said Dr. Deveaux.
“Unlike the Straw Market fire, the fire trucks were pumping water from the ocean, the Defence Force vessel was supplying our support, the Lynden Pindling Airport Fire Authority was there. They were able to mobilise significant resources to help preserve and protect the surrounding buildings.”
A compromise, after careful negotiations, is expected to preserve the downtown waterfront dock’s place in Bahamian history.
“One of the first things the Prime Minister directed when he came on site was to ask that as many pictures as possible be taken of the building, so that we could preserve the memory of it in photos,” said Dr. Deveaux.
The fire has altered the original plans to utilize the dock and building, as the cornerstone of the historical Revitalisation of Downtown Bay Street.