Oddly enough, it was a deal signed with mobsters, gangsters, hidden figures and front men, for Paradise Island that enabled the creation of Kelly Island in Nassau. And it would be the inspiration, of clever Bahamian school children, mindful of the nation’s long history, which got the man-made 100 acre island, renamed, Arawak Cay.
1962 – Someone big in Bahamas Government makes the decision to squeeze out Huntington Hartford
Still in 1962, Hog Island, renamed Paradise Island, was only accessible by ferry boat. The ride took about ten minutes. The Paradise Island Bridge that all know today, was just sketches on pieces of architect paper.
Huntington Hartford, one of the richest men in the world, had poured almost $30 million dollars into turning Hog Island, where once the condemned of Nassau were hung for their crimes, into an exclusive vacation paradise for tourists.
Huntington’s dream would soon fail!
The failure would be helped along by those big in the Bahamas government, who wanted him gone. They needed Paradise Island for someone else, some hidden figures and front men, who were willing to pay millions under the table, to get it.
(TATLER MAGAZINE Wednesday 26 December 1962)
Huntington Hartford was a trust fund baby. He inherited his $90 million dollar fortune, but was a lavish spender who had dreams of being a great property developer. In his lifetime, he had managed to squander $80 million of his $90 million inheritance.
Hartford bought up most of Hog Island in 1959. By 1966, he was forced to sell to the Mary Carter Paint Company.
“But Huntington’s serious money-losing was already well established. In 1959 he bought up most of what was then Hog Island in the Bahamas, renamed it Paradise Island and set about turning it into a resort, which he opened with a party in 1962 for 2,000 guests, among them Zsa Zsa Gabor. However, he failed to get a gambling permit and the venture never quite came together. House guests at his villa in those years included Richard Nixon, Sean Connery and The Beatles, when they visited the Bahamas to film beach scenes for the movie Help! By some estimates the Paradise Island adventure ultimately cost Huntington up to $30m.”
Huntington Hartford Riches to Rags The Independent London 2008
Despite all the money and the star power Hartford brought to Paradise Island, it was still losing money. Over $1,000,000 a year in losses.
Why wouldn’t the Bahamas government help this very important foreign investor?
Considering that Huntington was haemorrhaging money over Paradise Island, why wouldn’t the government come to his aid. It seems almost ludicrous to consider that the government, being really only Sir Stafford Sands, who basically ran everything imaginable, would deny Huntington permission to build a bridge, to facilitate tourists coming to the vacation paradise.
Not only had the government denied permission to build a bridge, they denied Hartford a casino license as well. They denied Hartford everything he needed to keep Paradise Island from sinking under the weight of its debts.
Why would Sands and others in the government, deny Hartford the improvements that he needed to make Paradise Island a money-making success?
The answer could only be, they had intended to squeeze out Hartford in favour of someone else.
By 1966, Hartford would sell 75 percent of his interests in Paradise Island to Mary Carter Paint Company.
(The Courier Post Tuesday January 2, 1979)
1966 – Deal Signed With Paint Company. Suddenly permission for Bridge and Casino Given
It was the deal with the Mary Carter Paint Company, the gangster fronted, unheard of corner paint shop, which became Resorts International, which started the development of the Paradise Island Bride, the dredging of Nassau Harbour and the creation of Kelly Island, later to be renamed, Arawak Cay.
Kelly Island was not afterthought. It was always intended to be part of the public development plan. The island was going to be a mega tourist hotel resort, no doubt, to be given over to more hidden figures and American gangsters.
1966 – Hidden figures loan of $14,000,000 to dredge harbour and create island.
What do you with millions and millions of tonnes of spoil, created from dredging a harbour to the depth of 36 feet? Well, you create a man-made island of course! This is exactly what became of millions and millions of tonnes of spoil, debris and rocks, created from the dredging of Nassau Harbour in a deal struck in 1966.
There is only one problem with this fairytale scenario. The problem is that it must have been long in the planning. They only needed Hartford to be desperate enough to sell Paradise Island!
In 1966, without ever disclosing the names of the persons involved, the Bahamas Government struck a deal for a $14,000,000 private financed loan to begin a series of public work initiatives. The loan, given by a group of private US investors was given the blessing of the US Government.
(Fort Lauderdale News Sunday April 3, 1966)
1967 – Plans for Kelly Island squashed by PLP government
As the election returns came in for the January 10th General Elections, Stafford Sands, Roland Symonette, Trevor Kelly and the rest of the UBP, must have run for the toilet. Sudden cases of diarrhoea and vomiting must have been rampant across Nassau that night. No wonder Roland Symonette went, hat in hand, to Randol Fawkes, trying to cut a deal to keep the UBP government in power.
There were hot, important irons in the fire.
Only the UBP knew how fiery they were.
The one hundred acres of man-made real estate was originally, albeit informally, called Kelly Island. It was named after Trevor Kelly, the Minister for Maritime Affairs and a signatory to the dredging agreement.
By March 1967, a 500 room hotel was planned for Kelly Island.
(The Independent Press, Sunday 05, March 1967)
1968 – PLP Change plans for Kelly Island from hotel resort to container terminal port and waterfront entertainment centre.
(The Palm Beach Post Thursday September 26, 1968)
1969 – An island renamed
They say the minds of children have an imagination that adulthood will soon forget. It was the imagination of a Bahamian school child, who remembered the long lost history of the Bahamas. They brilliantly remembered that there was a civilisation which existed there, before the Europeans came.
A contest among school children renames Kelly Island to Arawak Cay.
(The Palm Beach Post Friday 03 January 1969)