Prospect Reef Resort
Prospect Reef Resort was mostly destroyed by Hurricane Irma. (Photo: DANA KAMPA)

We are glad that the new government is jump-starting long-delayed plans to redevelop the Prospect Reef Resort.

To hear Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley tell it, leaders seem to be off on the right foot.

First, they advertised for new members of the board that oversees the property, and they are currently evaluating applicants, Dr. Wheatley told the House of Assembly this month.

This process appears to conform to Commission of Inquiry recommendations designed to reform the territory’s overall board-appointment system. That’s a good thing.

Next, Dr. Wheatley said, government plans to issue a request for proposals to redevelop Prospect Reef.

This straightforward strategy is a no-brainer, of course. But no administration has managed to get it done right since the government purchased the property in 2005 with plans to turn it into a hospitality training centre.

Instead, leaders have treated the development with their typical lack of transparency, bringing forward various half-baked proposals conceived behind closed doors.

Not surprisingly, those plans fell flat, one after the other.

Now, the only way forward is with full transparency and community dialogue. Before even requesting proposals, the new board should host public meetings to find out what exactly residents want from the property.

Dr. Wheatley is calling for a “branded hotel” and conference facilities. This is a sound idea — a conference centre is certainly needed in the territory — but the community should get to weigh in as well.

From there, a transparent tender process should follow, starting with a carefully crafted request for proposals designed to find a suitable partner to fund and develop a project the community wants. Any proposals received should then be brought back to the public for further discussion before a way forward is finalised.

Finally, to avoid further embarrassments associated with the development, the government must conduct thorough due diligence on the preferred bidders before awarding a contract.

Any potential partner must show a clear track record of recent successes and provide evidence of access to the funding needed to get the job done.

At a time when many of the government’s Hurricane Irma recovery efforts are stalled for want of funding, a Prospect Reef project fuelled by private investment would boost the territory’s economy both during and after the construction phase.

We hope to see it move ahead efficiently in the sunshine of transparency.