On June 5th 2019 Fort Young Hotel & Dive Resort found it necessary to issue a statement to respond to speculation regarding the Peebles Park & the Public Library, essentially clarifying that there is no discussion or intention between the Fort Young Hotel or its ownership and the Government of Dominica regarding the acquisition, in whole or in part, of Peebles Park or the Public Library. Due to remarks made by Joshua Francis, Deputy Leader of the United Works Party, in a live video broadcast posted on Facebook on Wednesday, November 13th 2019, the hotel once again deems a response and clarification necessary.
Mr. Francis, among other things states, “the Fort Young basically has taken the space of the Library”…. He goes on to show a lower section of land behind the Library, stating “right here, you can see again that ah Fort Young basically has taken the space of the library. This is the container right here.” He continues, “so basically the Nassiefs have taken over our public library. That’s the way I I see it. Because if they have not taken over it means that they are trespassers because work is happening right at the back of the library here.” And finally, towards the end of his discourse, he discovers something mysterious: “You see it right here? Something is happening at the library, something mysterious. Because here it is, watch this. I want the world to ask the government of Dominica exactly what is happening at the back of the library. You seeing a cage right? Something is in that cage, it’s under a brown tarpaulin. Is it building materials? We don’t know, we don’t know.”
The hotel wishes to make the following clarifications:
- The hotel has not in fact taken over the Library, but requested and received permission from the Government of Dominica to use the Northern Section as access for construction, without which the hotel could not be reconstructed; the Government issued such permission; the hotel is therefore not trespassing.
- The Nassiefs have definitely not taken over the public library. And for general public information, the hotel is owned by 34 shareholders of which less than half are members of the Nassief family, and the largest direct or indirect holding by a member of the Nassief family is approximately 35%, and the Government of Dominica is in fact one of the many Shareholders of the hotel and has been for over 30 years.
- The Lower Section with the container that Mr. Francis is referring to is land that has been owned by the Fort Young for over 14 years and is not Library land.
- The “mysterious cage” that Mr. Francis points out is in fact a “water bladder” which provides emergency backup water storage for the hotel; the hotel requested and the Government granted permission to temporary lay the bladders there as its own backup water system was destroyed during Hurricane Maria and these were brought in as a temporary measure prior to this year’s hurricane season.
The Fort Young Hotel is very grateful to the Government of Dominica for its much needed support during this critical time of reconstruction and expansion. Having lost all 32 of its “Fort Rooms” to Hurricane Maria (reference Photo 1 above), the hotel is undertaking a major expansion to re-open with 100 rooms in the third quarter of 2020. The practicalities of major construction on a site surrounded by a historic fort wall (reference Photo 2 below) necessitated special access through the Northern section of the Library. Without said access, preserving the historical fort fabric and heritage would not have been possible. The Hotel’s access thru and activities on this section of the Library grounds are fully authorized by the Government. The Fort Young Hotel remains committed to engaging the government and the community as the resort pushes ahead with its reconstruction and expansion so as to continue to play an important role in Dominica’s tourism development. The hotel’s total expected investment will exceed EC$40 Million. It is also important to clarify that, contrary to speculation, the Hotel is not a participant in Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment Program nor has it received any special funding from the Government.