Buy Back Bermuda Round 2

Three years have gone by since we launched our first campaign, and we feel that we have enough energy and sufficient public support to save more green space from development. The Bermuda National Trust and The Bermuda Audubon Society invite you to help purchase and safeguard precious open space.

Our target this time is $2.5 million and we have identified two valuable properties - the first in Southampton, 7.6 acres next to Evans Bay Pond, and the second, 3.36 acres in Hamilton Parish, near Shelly Bay - almost 11 acres in total.

Your actions will result in ‘saving some open green space’ for current and future generations to enjoy. We hope that all concerned residents, young and old, local and international companies and even visitors, will help us with this, our Second Campaign, by making a financial contribution to this cause - regardless of how small the amount.

Please read our Brochure and complete the attached form and return it to us with your donation. All contributors will have their names recorded for prosperity on a monument to be constructed on the sites for all to see. The Committee and especially future generations of residents of Bermuda will be indebted to you for your foresight and generosity.

Response to the Premier's Announcement of a Southlands Swap/April 02, 2008

The Bermuda National Trust is heartened by the decision, announced this afternoon, to relocate the Southlands Resort to Morgan’s Point. We look forward to receiving more information and details about the swap and hope to soon receive confirmation that the 37-acre Southlands Estate will be turned in to a public park for everyone in Bermuda to use and enjoy.

We wish to commend the decision by Government to regenerate part of Bermuda’s largest brownfield areas and congratulate all those who expressed their concerns, either by attending the public meetings, involving themselves in the planning process or by writing to the decision makers. In doing so, you assured that the community’s voice was heard. It is once again a wonderful example of people banding together to express their concerns and of a Government and developers willing to listen.

Bill Holmes - President
April 02, 2008

Planning Application Submitted for Warwick Long Bay

The Bermuda National Trust has submitted an objection to a planning application seeking to install a wooden deck at Warwick Long Bay for the purpose of a temporary concession.

Warwick Long Bay is a Class B protected area under the Bermuda National Parks Act 1986 and as such, “is to be managed in a manner to encourage conservation and enjoyment of the area’s natural, historic and educational features with a minimum of commercial activity”. The National Trust is concerned that this development is not compatible with the purpose of the park and its Conservation Area designation, under the current 1992 Development Plan, as a National Park and Open Space. Our specific concerns are that the 2,500 sq.ft. deck will be detrimental to the natural and visual quality of the park and negatively impact the dunes and native vegetation.

We are also concerned that there is a lack of information contained in the application concerning the purpose of the concession or what is meant by “temporary”. In addition, the planning application does not supply confirmation that the proposal has been approved by the National Parks Commission as is required for a development in a National Park.

For further information contact our Director of Preservation, Dorcas Roberts at dorcas@bnt.bm

The City of Hamilton’s Built Heritage – Alexandrina Hall

The Bermuda National Trust appeals to the Ministry of the Environment and the Corporation of Hamilton, as a matter of urgency, to complete the List of Special Architectural, Historical or Cultural Significant Buildings by including the City of Hamilton as soon as possible before more of Bermuda’s irreplaceable heritage is lost. Bermuda’s built heritage is one of our most important assets providing us with a physical record of our past but also representative of who we are today.

The City of Hamilton is going through a period of rapid change and development placing extreme pressure on historic and culturally significant areas. Throughout Bermuda, the method of preserving our built heritage and protecting it from such pressures is the Listing process. When, in 1991, the then Minister of the Environment began officially designating certain structures around the island as being of special architectural, historical or cultural significance, unfortunately, with the exception of one structure in the city, the Anglican Cathedral, the list did not extend to Hamilton. Since that time no buildings from the city have been added.

In 1988 the Bermuda National Trust initiated the Historic Building Survey that researched and surveyed the buildings present on the 1898 Savage map of Bermuda. Today we have 4,070 records of historic buildings in our database. It was with this research that in 1992 we compiled a list of buildings of special interest within the city that we felt should be considered for listing and presented it to both the Ministry of Environment and the Corporation of Hamilton. In 2006, a revised list taking into account the buildings already lost was further submitted. Alexandrina Hall was one building identified by this list. It is a major building of the mid-nineteenth century, important as the site of the Oddfellows Lodge which played a central role in the development of the black community in the 19th and 20th centuries. It is in the north and east of Hamilton that many of the historically and culturally important buildings have been identified. The National Trust submitted an objection to the Planning Application for the 10 storey condominium hotel on this site. Sadly, the application is one of an increasing number of applications that we have seen in recent years that will result in the loss of buildings that we feel are worthy of being preserved.

Both the National Trust and the Government have a duty to ensure that the best examples of Bermuda’s heritage are preserved to tell the island’s collective and complete story, historically and culturally, and to pass this story on to future generations. It goes without saying that if the listing process does not extend to the city, this story cannot be complete. The current development plan for the City does not go far enough to preserve the City’s built heritage. The 2001 City of Hamilton Plan desperately needs to be reviewed to establish if the City can support ‘high rise’ development and if so, it must be identified where these buildings would be suitable but more importantly, it must also be established where such buildings would not be suitable. The historic buildings today that we see under threat represent and reflect the work of the craftsmen, artists and events of their time and are a vital part of the City of Hamilton and by extension, Bermuda’s identity.

The Bermuda National Trust would like to hear and work with anyone who is interested in the preservation of the City of Hamilton’s heritage. If you would like to be a part of this effort please email dorcas@bnt.bm

The Draft Bermuda Plan 2008 – Our Review

The Draft Bermuda Plan 2008 was published June 6, 2008 and lays out Bermuda’s future land use and planning policies intended to guide development in a way that meets the needs of the island up to the year 2015. The Plan was subject to a four month consultation period, which ended October 3, 2008, whereby the public could object to or comment on, any zoning or policy in the Draft Plan to the Department of Planning.

The Bermuda National Trust has reviewed the Draft Development Plan 2008 to assess how it serves to protect Bermuda’s natural and historic areas islandwide and how the policies contained within it serve to manage and balance Bermuda’s natural and built environment in a sustainable way. During this process we submitted seven objections to the Zoning Maps requesting changes to the designations of National Trust properties, or properties that we are in the process of acquiring, as well as one third-party objection. We also made positive representations, submitted objections and requested amendments/clarifications on a total of 81 policies contained within the Planning Statement.

Read here in detail the Bermuda National Trust’s submissions to the Department of Planning (October 3, 2008) with respect to the Draft Bermuda Plan 2008.
For further information contact Dorcas Roberts at dorcas@bnt.bm.

2008 Archaeological Excavations at Saint Peter’s Church - Exciting Discoveries!

This summer the Bermuda National Trust and archaeologists from Boston University carried out a six-week excavation project centered on St. Peter’s Church in the Town of St. George World Heritage Site. The project had two aims: to document the memorials in the churchyard, and to investigate several underground chambers, searching for traces of the seventeenth century building.

Our investigation of the underground chambers revealed two exciting parts of the church’s history and provided startling finds. In the southern half of the north chamber we uncovered the coffin plate and associated human remains of Governor George James Bruere (d. 1780). Bruere was Governor of Bermuda (1764-1780, 1781) at the time of the “gunpowder plot” when, during the American Revolutionary War, gunpowder was stolen from the island and used against the British forces. In the northern half of the chamber we uncovered a coffin plate associated with human remains. Once cleaned, the inscription identified one of these as Sir Jacob Wheate, Commander of H.M.S. Cerberus, which sank off Castle Harbour after Wheate died of fever in St. George’s in 1783. The chamber to the south near the current entrance from Duke of York Street yielded a phase of the building dating from the 18 th and 19 th centuries.

Read here a Summary Report of the dig written by archaeologist Brent Fortenberry of Boston University. Also, articles about our finds have been featured in the Boston Globe, The Times and Bermuda’s own Royal Gazette.

The Bermuda National Trust would like to thank Richard Lowry, Chair of the Trust’s Archeology Committee, Excavation Director, Brent Fortenberry and all the volunteers who made this dig possible. We would also like to thank the Bank of Bermuda Foundation for sponsoring the project. Finally, we are extremely grateful for the support of the property and thank Rev. Raths and the St. Peter’s Church Vestry, Rev. Erskine Simmons at Whitehall and Kat Carr and Robin Lang at Ming House.

Bermuda Slave Registers from 1821 and 1834

The Ombudsman for Bermuda, Arlene Brock, has made available two extensive databases made from the 1821 and 1834 Slave Registers which are held in the Bermuda Archives. The original hand-written Registers were created to facilitate compensation for slave-owners when the slaves would be emancipated. They provide a unique record and valuable research tool for many people who are tracing family or community history.

The databases were developed in searchable Excel format by Dr. Virginia Bernhard of the University of St. Thomas in Houston. They set out the names of owners, the total number of slaves and sex of the owners, the names of slaves, their sex, colour and work. Sadly they do not record the ages and birth places of the slaves, which are therefore only available from the originals on microfilm in the Bermuda Archives. Dr. Bernhard wanted to make these research tools available to the public, and the Bermuda Ombudsman has done so by releasing them to the Trust and two other organisations in Bermuda. In turning these databases over to the Ombudsman, Dr. Bernhard stated: "The Slave Registers are such a treasure. I have no objection to making the databases public - this is my way of saying thank you to Bermuda ". However, she stressed: "these are academic working lists. They are not perfect - there are some gaps and spelling errors". The Archives are developing their own Slave Register database, but in the meantime the databases developed by Dr Bernhard will serve as useful tools for researchers.

Potential Special Development Order for Tucker's Point/February 04, 2011

The Bermuda National Trust is extremely shocked by the news that a pending Special Development Order (SDO) has been tabled today in Parliament slating development of pristine hills in Castle Harbour such as Paynter’s Hill and Quarry Hill, along with other undeveloped lands in the area.

We need to recognise the economic value of our precious remaining open spaces which are the very amenities that draw visitors to our unique island and we need to also recognise the value of the biodiversity in these spaces which are core to the health of our environment and our own vital health. Significantly reduced and limited areas of natural habitat survive in Bermuda and the hills of Castle Harbour are one of the few places left where diverse habitats of major and critical significance remain.

The geology of the area presents challenges that have resulted in it remaining relatively undeveloped while the rest of Bermuda was being built upon. Indirectly, this has resulted in this section of the island serving as a safe haven for numerous unique life forms, many critically endangered, in the most extensive remaining tracts of forest left that predate settlement. These areas consist of some of the last natural refuges of critically endangered flora such as the Yellowwood tree and the endemic Wild Bermuda pepper to name two.

Below these hills are globally important caves joined by extensive passageways which sustain a disproportionate amount of diverse and unique flora and fauna. In Bermuda’s caves more than 60 endemic species have been identified and due to the vulnerability of these ecosystems to threats, such as development, 25 of these species have been listed as critically endangered.

These lands are also protected by a myriad of laws which reflect the area’s nature as part of an extensive tract of open space that supports important ecology, large woodlands, recreation land and provides amenity value beyond measure. The larger the tract of undeveloped land, the more biodiversity it can sustain and to continue to fragment this area with development, as we have been advised this SDO will do, will severely degrade the habitat value of the area and Bermuda as a whole.

While the National Trust’s concerns are focused on the environmental integrity of precious remaining open spaces and the biodiversity they support, the value to our social well-being as a small island and the tourism value of such landscapes cannot be overlooked when considering national importance.

In 2010 the Bermuda National Trust received many calls from concerned members of the public and from other NGOs enquiring whether we had any knowledge of such a pending Special Development Order. We wrote to the Ministry of the Environment in October 2010 asking whether such an SDO was being considered, and have just this week sent another letter hoping for a response.

As we have said many times publicly, the Bermuda National Trust considers the involvement of the community in the planning and development processes key to successful developments so we feel strongly that public input leads to better decisions. As such, we feel that all major developments should be submitted to the Department of Planning and opened up for public comment and input.

BNT Statement on Devonshire Marsh Development/November 15, 2011

The Bermuda National Trust objected to the development application for 79 Middle Road as it does not believe that the three proposed warehouses would be sensitive to, or compatible with the environmental, visual and amenity value of the site or neighbouring undeveloped nature reserves.

Approval of this application on appeal is very concerning as the Planning Inspectorate, the Development Applications Board and the Department of Planning staff all recommended that it be refused / dismissed.

In addition, the Department of Planning and other Government technical officers consistently stated that the application provided minimal and inconsistent information and as a result was not complete enough to be properly assessed.

Devonshire Marsh is a vitally important wetland habitat on top of Bermuda’s largest aquifer. Instead of intensifying industrial development within the marsh, the Bermuda National Trust feels that it would be in everyone’s benefit if all efforts be made toward enforcing Bermuda’s existing environmental legislation and policies, to stop creeping encroachment and degradation of scarce open space.

This matter highlights, yet again, the need for a comprehensive national plan that incorporates the appropriate placement of industrial and commercial activities on Bermuda’s landscape in such a manner that supports the existing national plan to conserve our unique environment and community green spaces.

Lt. Col. William K. White President of the Bermuda National Trust

NOTICE - Springfield closed to the public - August 1st, 2013 until further notice.

Please be advised that from August 1st, 2013 Springfield will be closed to public access. This is to allow for much needed repairs and maintenance to be carried out. Also, as a safety precaution, the Anita Wingate Nature Trail trough the Gilbert Nature Reserve will only be accessible from Middle Road and the Railway Trail and NOT from the grounds of Springfield.

We will be sure to post updates of our progress regularly.

Preservation is important. Please support the Bermuda National Trust and help us save and protect this irreplaceable site.

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