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DNP, cruise port to decide how to spend millions to beautify downtown

With today’s grand opening of the new Nassau Cruise Port (NCP), the city of Nassau is expected to get a more than one million cruise tourist boost over the next few years, and port executives and other downtown stakeholders will have to decide how to spend what’s left of an $8 million concession agreement to beautify downtown, Nassau Cruise Port Limited’s (NCP) Chief Executive Officer Mike Maura Jr. said yesterday.

Minister of State for Legal Affairs Jomo Campbell asked in the House of Assembly last week when the cruise port would fulfill its obligation to invest $8 million towards the beautification of downtown. Maura explained yesterday that the $8 million was a concessionary item attached to the building of the cruise port and some of it has already been spent. How the balance is spent is to be decided with the Downtown Nassau Partnership (DNP).

Maura said more than $1 million of the $8 million has already been spent in the port’s renovation of a building formerly used by the Ministry of Tourism, which has been converted into the new tourism police station.

He explained that the rest of the money is mandated to be used in the beautification of downtown no more than 12 months following the completion of the port’s construction.

“Obviously our focus has been exclusively around getting this project completed through a pandemic. Very difficult times,” said Maura.

“But once we get past the opening, we’ll be sitting down with the Downtown Nassau Partnership, which is the counterparty to the $8 million in terms of how it’s going to be spent.”

Besides the renovation of the former Ministry of Tourism building, Maura said the NCP was also charged with moving former Festival Place vendors into Rawson Square during the port’s construction, and now out of Rawson Square as the vendors have taken ownership of their new storefronts at the port.

Maura said the ribbon will be cut to officially open the port today, but lamented that there is much more work to be done to improve the visitor experience in the historic city of Nassau.

He said one such project will be to improve the broken and dangerous sidewalks that exist across the street from the port.

“I know the Ministry of Works has been out there for the last week repaving some of the streets, which is very positive,” said Maura.

“The condition of the streets had been so bad that Bahamians and guests were literally tripping in potholes.

“There are sidewalks that are missing huge segments and chunks, that if you happen to be someone that is confined to a wheelchair, and you’ve got, you know, your spouse pushing you along, you’re having to go through a divot that might be five feet long by six inches deep.

“So investments and repairs definitely need to happen.”

Maura said one of the conversations surrounding the $8 million also had to with park-and-ride areas from a designated lot into downtown on electric shuttles.

It is understood that the legislation that would create a governing body for the city of Nassau is being drafted at the attorney general’s office.