Earlier this year Ambergris Today posted a web poll asking whether or not you agree that there are too many street vendors flooding Central Park and a majority of the votes casted agreed that there are too many.
These street vendors encroach on the seating areas at the park and even make it difficult for parking; adding to the congestion. Many have plywood tables (4ft x 8 ft) placed near the park benches with huge umbrellas sticking out on the street sides causing a hinder to traffic flow and parking. These merchants have proven to be problematic and many have expressed their frustration and annoyance on this situation.
Mayor Elsa Paz and Deputy Mayor Severo Guerrero met with the street vendors of Central Park on Wednesday, September 28, 2011, at her office to discuss about their relocation. With the presence of two Tourism Police, Mayor Paz informed these vendors of the relocation they need to make including some rules and regulations they need to follow in order to continue selling at Central Park.
Mayor Paz told the vendors that they would be relocated under the main palapa at Central Park and that the San Pedro Town Council will be providing them with standardized tables measuring 4ft x 4ft for all vendors. She also stated that the palapa will undergo repairs to the thatch roof and proper lighting and water will be installed at the palapa. They will have access to the bathroom at the Central Park and a Tourism Police will be stationed on site to oversee that business is conducted at an orderly manner.
Not quite happy with these changes, the street vendors vented their frustrations and comments on the change. Many did not like the idea of being placed under the palapa as they will no longer be allowed to have the large (4ft x 8ft) plywood to display their arts and crafts.
Mayor Paz gave them suggestions as to how to display their products without needing such a huge piece of plywood. She also made it clear that the palapa should be kept clean at all times and that the Town Council will be placing two large signs (Street Side and Beach Side) indicating that arts and crafts are being sold in that area.
One of the main reasons these vendors are being relocated is because of the congestion that they have caused on both Central Park and Barrier Reef Drive. At the park these vendors encroach on the benches and placing their personal belongings including bicycles and leave no space for visitors or locals to sit and enjoy the park. They also have taken up space on the planters that have prevented the trees and plants to grow.
On the street side traffic is already an issue by having a taxi association parked on the left side adjacent to all the stalls. When tourists park their golf carts or pedestrians stop to check out their products they hinder the flow of traffic. Cleanliness was another reason for having them removed from this area of Central Park.
While these artisans are being relocated to the palapa it doesn’t mean that they own the palapa; when festivities such as Lobster Fest, September Celebrations, fundraisers or other events take place, the palapa will be available to the public.
It is approximated that in a period of two weeks the palapa will be fully fixed, including utilities mentioned above, and the street vendors will be welcomed to conduct their daily business under the palapa.