Bazaar closure not an option, says Moss
FN News Editor
While an air of uncertainty over the closure of the International Bazaar still looms among tenants, Member of Parliament for Marco City Gregory Moss insists the government will not allow it.
"I can tell you with absolute confidence, this will never happen," he said yesterday.
"Not because it's a private interest question, but because, at a governmental level, you cannot allow the heart of the city to become more stagnated than it is now."
Concern grew last week when tenants learned of a pending meeting in two weeks which is to reportedly be followed by the closure of the International Bazaar on December 31.
Since the closure of the 427-acre Royal Oasis Resort property in 2004 following Hurricane Frances and the $33 million sale to the Harcourt Development Group in 2007, the International Bazaar, which sits adjacent to the hotel has long struggled to stay afloat.
It was expected that the resort property, which is located on prime location in the center of the island, would be transformed into a high-quality tourist destination and bring major benefits to the area through increased tourism and local employment.
But, that has yet to materialize.
Bazaar Owners Association President Chris Payne told The Freeport News last week that he knew nothing of the reports of a closure.
Yesterday, Moss told the media that if the association does take the position that it no longer sees the International Bazaar as something viable that they want to continue, the next step would be for them to talk with government about transferring the property.
Allowing the bazaar to stagnate is not acceptable, he said, adding that the new Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) government does have immediate plans for the area that was once known as the shopping mecca of the city.
"We made a number of commitments during our campaigning and also we concretized those commitments in our charter for governance, one of which speaks directly to the Bazaar and to this area of Freeport, namely that we would reopen the link between West Sunrise Highway," he said.
The area was closed off by the former resort owners to create an all-inclusive feel and accommodate a man-made pool.
Now, Moss said, plans are afoot to reopen that causeway.
"That is not off the table. That absolutely has to be done. It was a terrible to ever close that. That amounted to a damning of the river as far as the bazaar was concerned and we are convinced that reopening it would be in the best interest of the city of Freeport and for the future economic viability of the Bazaar. Added to which we promise to do it."
While he could not give a timeframe on when that is to take place, Moss assured that it will be soon.
"But I can confirm that we not only made that commitment, we have embodied that commitment in that charter for governance and I have an absolute certainty and assurance that that would be done," he said.
© 2012 The Freeport News