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Close to 100 residents gathered around the construction site of the town clock, today October 31, 2011, to peacefully protest the decision of the San Pedro Town Council to erect a donated clock tower  in the middle of Barrier Reef Drive (Front Street) in front of Central Park.

The protestors circled around the construction site with placards asking the Town Council to stop the construction. Their main message is that they do not oppose the erection of the town clock, but that the location is completely wrong and not in the best interest of our town where esthetics and traffic safety is concerned.

During her guest appearance on this morning’s Good Morning San Pedro Talk Show on Reef Radio, Mayor Elsa Paz seemed to be indifferent about the concerns of the island residents, targeting expats, non-registered voters and US national.

“I will not listen to just a small group of people who do not represent the entire population of San Pedro,” commented Mayor Paz to Eiden Salazar during the morning show. “I want to see more than 1,500 people at the protest for me to consider changing my decision.”

She seemed very adamant about her decision of placing the clock in the middle of the street and it seems that it will take a lot for her to change her mind. However even tourists are posting their feelings on the internet which is bad publicity for our entire Island.  Will the mayor care to listen to this testimony that follows?

“I have been a LOYAL tourist to the island for over 7 years, twice a year! I have sent friends, acquaintances and strangers we have bet diving elsewhere to this island paradise, because it WAS so quaint, magical and the people are amazing! The original owner or Ramon’s, was an island original that wanted to share the magic of the island with others, to show there was still an untouched piece of paradise within our minds and reach......palm trees, white sand beaches, amazing small local family owned businesses, restaurants with nothing but three walls, made of palm trees, and sand floors, and food to die for!” commented a frequent visitor upon reading the story. “There was VERY LITTLE signage other than homemade signs, and the odd professional painted one, no gaudy stuff.....just a little island that seemed as if time had forgotten. What they still write about in books, that all of us dream of finding and spending time on! A mini replica of CANCUN! Agghhh...just what we were all trying to get away from...... sorry to say I will not be sending any more people the way of the island....I will keep my pictures and memories well guarded in my heart, my computer and my brain......and when I want to go to the paradise of my dreams, where so many of my friends live, and meet every Oct and Feb...I will now have to close my eyes and remember how things USED TO BE.”
(end of Quote)

Although Mayor Paz says that all the utility companies have no objections to the construction of the town clock 21-foot structure and that it was only Belize Water Services Operations Manager, Dave Pascacio who had indicated concern over future work at the site, Mr. Pascacio did comment to the media that the company had rejected the Town Council’s idea from the very start.

“I objected on two grounds,” stated Mr. Pascacio “The construction could pose a threat to our infrastructure so that’s during the construction phase, because they would have to expose our pipes.  We have two pipes there both sewer and water main. If we had a break there, we would NOT  have enough access to maintain our pipe.  If there is a break because of the nature of the soil in San Pedro, by the time we get there is already a big hole and that would jeopardize the integrity of the structure so it was both to look out on their behalf and our behalf."

At the moment, Mayor Paz, the Town Council and Ramon’s Village (who are sponsoring the town clock) are feeling the heat from the public outcry.

 

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Below is a letter directed to Mr. Mukul C. Kanabar, Chairman of the San Pedro Chapter of the Belize Tourism Industry Association:

October 30,2011
Mr. Mukul C. Kanabar
BTIA - San Pedro Chapter
Ambergris Caye
Belize

Dear Mukul:
I appreciate your concerns, but I had no idea that doing something nice for San Pedro, Ramon's employees, the local merchants and our thousands of visitors to San Pedro each year would cause such turmoil.

When we first proposed a community information device for Central Park, I thought it was a good idea and so did everyone we asked; however, the mayor and her council thought our design was a bit simple and, therefore, commissioned a local designer to create a concept that would be both pleasing to the viewer and architecturally conducive to the beauty of San Pedro Town.

Our original proposal was for a simple two-sided sign that would be placed in Central Park in place of the thatched palapa previously used by Captain Morgan's to market their property. However, after repeated discussions with Mayor Paz, it was decided that the best place for this landmark tower would be in the center of Barrier Reef Drive. The mayor indicated to us that this clock tower would be the perfect solution for slowing down motorists who continually break the law by exceeding the speed limit. Mayor Paz also thought it may deter big trucks from using Barrier Reef Drive excessively.

A full size model of the base for the clock tower was temporarily laid in place several months ago and vehicles of all sorts were driven around it. The results were found that it posed no problem at all for sensibly driven vehicular traffic.

We agreed to install the clock/tower where it was thought to best benefit the village, even though cost overruns to us would be $20-25,000 BZ higher than if we had located it in the park just off Barrier Reef Drive.

Once the final design and location were approved by the mayor and council, it was decided that the tower needed four clock faces and only two electronic promotional devices. There will be two fixed, non-animated panels on opposite sides of the clock tower which will read "Welcome to San Pedro."

You wrote in your letter to the town council that you had heard this clock tower would be a billboard for Ramon's. On the contrary, it is a tasteful and expensive work of art costing us $150,000 BZ. The emphasis of the electronic portion of the clock tower will be to provide the current temperature and public service announcements, special events and festivals that take place in San Pedro. This will not be a device that is for rent. We agree that everything on it should be tasteful and beneficial to the citizenry and visitors who come to enjoy San Pedro and Ambergris Caye.

If there is anything I can do to help clarify any misunderstanding about our contribution to the island, please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected].

Sincerely,
Richard Headrick

P.S . In reference to this being a billboard for Ramon's, the only permanent mention of Ramon's Village on the clock tower is on a brass plaque affixed to the base of the clock tower. The letters reading "Ramon's Village" are a whopping two inches tall.

 


Hello Mr. Headrick,

Thank you for your reasonable and respectful reply.  I shared your letter with our members, after it was read during Mayor Paz's appearance on the morning show today. 

I am replying to you on behalf of the San Pedro BTIA Board.

Given your undoubted concern for the community and that you are now aware that many individuals and businesses here have valid questions, concerns, and objections to the project as it is planned now, will you join us in requesting that Mayor Paz stop construction on the project so that a public consultation can be held?

Your letter provides new insight and information about the project, which we greatly appreciate.  Unfortunately, some of the details you provided about the tower are in direct conflict with what the Mayor has stated.  Specifically, you state that the device will not be for rent.  The Mayor has told both newspapers that Ramon's Village will advertise on the tower and that other advertising will be permitted with fees payable direct to Ramon's Village. 

http://www.sanpedrosun.com/community-and-society/2011/10/28/san-pedro-to...

http://ambergristoday.com/content/stories/2011/october/28/constuction-to...

Also, the Mayor told Ambergris Today on Friday that your donation was conditional upon the tower being installed in the middle of the street.  Then, on the radio show this morning, the Mayor stated that the location of the clock was, in fact, her idea.  In your letter, you wrote "it was decided that the best place for the...tower would be in the center of Barrier Reef Drive." 

As you can see, there are some inconsistencies, which is why we respectfully repeat our request that construction on the tower be stopped, so that the Mayor and Town Council can solicit input and feedback from the community.  We hope you will support us in this request.

Warm regards,
Mukul C. Kanabar
Chairman, San Pedro BTIA

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16 Comments

  1. avatar

    Oh well...the next mayor can rip it out.

  2. avatar

    100 Protesters!!! So could this mean that all the commotion is over? Given the momentum I thought this was gonna evolve into an "Occupy San Pedro" type of event.

  3. avatar

        The people with no money have no say !!!  That is truly, the biggest problem with Belize in general! I love the country and the people .... The government should do what best for the people not what best for their pockets ..  

  4. avatar

    The clock in the middle of the road is a crazy idea. Don't talk about politics caz we know that when they are in power they do what they want to, but when the PUP is in power. WE, the people, native born, residents have more oportunities of work.

    Tourist come to LA ISLA BONITA to see something different, relax and have a great time. They are tired of seeing this billboard stuff in the states or anywhere else in the country. I am a San Pedrana and this is the worst idea ever MAYOR.

    Why didn't you accepted the donations for another school or fixing the central park: where i enjoy coming with my daughter, or fix the streets at San Pedrito, San Juan, Escalante, etcc....there is a lot in the island that you can put all this donation to and it would be the best idea to advertise Ramon's not by a Clock in the middle of town.

    : Don't construct the clock,  it's for no use especially when people come out drom the disco's DRUNK

  5. avatar

    It is not a good idea to blame the white people of this island for trying to put a stop to the town clock construction. I hear a few people telling their mayor in spanish to not listen to any body who is white and just go ahead and do what she want. These few people are no doubt from the group that call themselves "San Pedranos." A few of them are in the habit of talking against everybody else on this island. I am a Belizean by birth, living in San Pedro Town, but I was not born here so in their eyes I am not supposed to be here and should not have a say in anything.

    Now I see some of their comments saying that they don't need any stranger on this island. They don't seem to realize that San Pedro Town is no longer just a little fishing village. They don't seem to know that San Pedro Town is depending on tourism. If you are operating your own grocery shop, you are depending on the white people and their local employees to come and buy from you to keep your business alive. If you are collecting rent, you are still depending on the same people to keep the money coming to you. 

    San Pedro Town is growing and growth brings with it the need for trained people to work in certain areas to make the correct plans and decissions and get the necessary job done right.  The present town clock problem is one of those requiring trained people's input. One person cannot know about everything in this world so we need to learn to accept and respect each other and employ the services of others where/when necessary so we don't have to worry about dangerous construction. For this reason I support those who disagree with the location of the town clock and the danger it is posing with the water and sewer pipes. It is a public safety concern - not political or racist as some people are trying to put it.

  6. avatar

    I strongly agree with you. Could not have said any better!

  7. avatar

    fine - you want to protest the clock - protest the clock then.

    But dont spit up cause it will fall on your face!

    1. what is all this bribery talk? You mean to tell me none of those gringos got their work permit and/or residency by bribery? Can they swear that they never did anywork here before they got a work permit? 

    2. and what is the beef with ramons? it is very true, ramons is one of the very very few resorts that hire only belizeans, and for the big jobs too. no only for the servant jobs. look at who is the big time managers for the resort owner who is driving this protest.

  8. avatar

    All these hateful comments and the bad behaviour by some of those in opposition just goes to show why it would have been a good idea to have a public consultation before going ahead with construction. All of these bad feelings could have been avoided in the first place. A lesson for future politicians.

  9. avatar

    It is sad that there is a handful of people who are turning the situation around and losing sight of what they are fighting for. Hurling out hateful remarks and creating barriers between island residents is not the way to solve problems. We need to come together as one in order to have more power to change things. We have come to know many great expats, retirees, visitors and foreigners who have become great friends of all of us and we know who are the ones who have a great heart for Belize.

    There are bad seeds in both ends of the spectrum and it is not only some locals that are hateful towards foreigners; it happens the other way around too. We all know who the good people are that we call friends. Lets not make this select group of haters ruin life-long  relationships  and possible new ones. San Pedro is still the warm and welcoming little island that we have always been. Development not only brings good with it, the bad tags along as well. It is up to us to deal the best possible way that we can.

    "All of these bad feelings could have been avoided in the first place. A lesson for future politicians." Rightly said.

  10. avatar

    GO HOME GRINGOS.  

    These harsh words come from a gringo who has adapted Belize and not come to Belize to make trouble or complain.  I live in Belize for many years but I am still a guest and must respect Belize.  

    I am sick and tired of my fellow gringos coming to Belize and trying to turn it into what they had in north america.  If you want that then Go Home to North America.

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