Column: Concerns, Improvements & More

May 16, 2022

[Written by St George's Mayor George Dowling III]

The Town of St George has been discussed in the media lately, and I would like to address a few matters that have arisen. I am in hope that this letter provides a bit of clarity on widely debated and sometimes misunderstood topics.

We have noted the following concerns in reference to the Town and encourage Stakeholders to provide ideas and additional feedback for further improvements

1. The boarded buildings make the Town look dead.

A boarded-up or empty building is the responsibility of the private owner. The upkeep of the property, rest solely in their hands. Encouraging owners to open requires economic demand. To this end we are currently working with a steering committee to rejuvenate the Town.

2. The Town looks old.

This forms part of our brand and promotes The Town of St. George’s historical identity as a UNESCO World Heritage site destination. Calls to drastically change the Town’s ambience runs contrary to the UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. The historical character and authentic experience are a draw for travelers that relish the experience.

3. The “Olde Towne” is not up to date.

This is a misperception. The Town has modern services expected of any municipality, such as internet, solar panels and the provision for electric car recharging stations. Residents have access to a five-star hotel, golf course and soon to be marina. The St. George’s Preservation Authority continues to uphold the historical building standards for residential and business exteriors that are required and expected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

4. St. George’s has excessive red tape.

The St George’s Preservation Authority, The Corporation of St George, The Bermuda National Trust and the Department of Planning are very sensitive to the Town’s development needs and have crafted guidelines and regulations to ensure architectural harmony. Simply put, construction in a UNESCO World Heritage Site and listed buildings within the Town must adhere to the strict building codes in place, for the Town to maintain its World Heritage Site status and to preserve our heritage for future generations.

5. The businesses feel abandoned.

The Corporation has acknowledged the cries of the St George’s Business Stakeholders Group [SBSG] and encourage them to use the systems currently in place, for us to strike the right balance and deliver services efficiently. In full disclosure, the Corporation has an Activities Committee that supports social development; Bermuda Economic Development Corporation [BEDC] funds and supports business development and the East End Chamber of Commerce lobbies economic opportunities, all within the Town. As noted above we have mechanisms and organizations in place that are here to support and aid in the economic growth of businesses in the Town.

Receiving feedback is an integral part of running a public office and it provides us with a benchmark as to where we need to make improvements and measures overall performance. As we work to balance the needs of primary and secondary stakeholders, satisfying one group may mean disadvantaging another in the interim, which is mainly due to resource and/or budgetary constraints.

The Corporation wants to foster an environment that celebrates our proud heritage and promotes opportunity for all residents, visitors and businesses to thrive.

-  St George’s Mayor George Dowling III

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Comments (1)

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  1. Kim Smith says:

    How about making a list of empty buildings or spaces and a list of people who would like to rent premises but at an agreed-upon lower rent (given the buildings would long ago have been paid for) and match them up… with real leases, of course.