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#228795 - 01/31/07 06:56 PM San Pedro Street Project a reality
Marty Offline
San Pedro Town, a beautiful piece of paradise situated in the Caribbean is blooming with beauty and charm. Nevertheless, the rainy season leaves the streets filled with potholes and mud, while during the dry season the air is thick with dust. However, those issues will be a problem of the past.
On January 29th, 2007, the San Pedro Town Council called an urgent town meeting. The purpose: to discuss the street rehabilitation projects and the details pertaining to their visit with Prime Minister Said Musa and Financial Secretary Carla Barnett, which took place on January 25th, 2007 at the Prime Minister’s office. Although attendance was minimal, the head table had good news for the community; both the Southern Road and Barrier Reef Drive will soon be restored and both will be cobble stoned.

Sitting at the head table were Mayor of San Pedro Town Elsa Paz, Belize Rural South Area Representative Honorable Manuel Heredia Jr., and councilors.

Barrier Reef Drive

“The Barrier Reef Drive Rehabilitation Project is scheduled to commence this weekend, perhaps as soon as Thursday,” commented San Pedro Mayor Elsa Paz to a group of concerned citizens. The project, which will carry a $1.7 million price tag, will be carried out by Medina’s Construction Company Limited, the same company that was hired for the Coconut Drive Rehabilitation Project and the building of the San Pedro Bridge.

The Barrier Reef Rehabilitation Project will include cobble stoning of all of Front Street, as well as the side streets that have yet to be cobble stoned. It will include drainage and a pedestrian walk, same as the one found on Pescador Drive. The monies collected from Property, Trade and Liquor taxes will be used to fund this project. “I would like to appeal to the general public, to those who haven’t paid their taxes, to please come forward and do so. San Pedro needs the money and our records show that approximately 65% of the Property Taxes have yet to be paid,” stated Mayor Paz.

However, the money collected from these taxes will not be enough. “We are selling some acres of land that belong to the San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) in order to help us fund both these projects,” commented Honorable Heredia, Jr. The properties that Honorable Heredia spoke of are 500 acres of land between Journey’s End Resort and Buena Vista in North Ambergris Caye. However, some of this land was sold in 2005 when the Pescador Drive Project needed extra funding.

Readers may recall that in 2005, SPTC requested assistance from the private sector in order to assist in the funding of a project of this magnitude. The same request is being submitted this time around. Anyone wishing to contribute to the Barrier Reef Rehabilitation Project, may receive further information by contacting the offices of the San Pedro Town Council at number (226) 2198.

A monthly payment schedule has been drafted between SPTC and Medina’s. SPTC has to pay slightly over $118,000 a month in order to cover the costs of the Rehabilitation Project. Honorable Heredia commented that they are still waiting on news from the government on whether one of their requests was approved or not. “If you may recall in 2005 when Pescador Drive was restored, SPTC had to pay sales tax (now GST) on the cobble stones bought. This time we are imploring government to waive that tax,” he stated. In an interview with the Area Representative on Tuesday, The San Pedro Sun discovered that as of press time, no news on whether the tax will be waived or not had been received. “We are hoping to get news from the Financial Secretary by Thursday, we hope,” he commented.

Southern Road

The San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) returned from their visit with the Prime Minister with good news. Government will give the money needed for the Southern Road Rehabilitation Project amounting to a total of $3.8 million. This money given comes in the form of a free interest loan with a three year payment plan. Because, the Barrier Reef Rehabilitation Project has been set to commence this week, payment on this government loan will not commence until 2008.

The Southern Road to be cobble stoned will be all the street area from the Bowen and Bowen Distribution Center to the Water and Sewage Authority (WASA) plant, across from Fido’s 2. Drainage and a pedestrian lane have all been drafted into the plan as well as strategically placed speed bumps.

“The rehabilitation project will begin in approximately two weeks,” said Mayor Paz. “The reason we chose cobble stone as opposed to asphalt is not only because of its aesthetic quality but also because of the threat asphalt poses on the environment. We simply can not risk threatening the reef with an asphalt road which would drain to the sea.” Drainage will lead to the sea and to the lagoon where the streets are further to the west. Where the drainage pipes are going to be placed is an area in the plans that is still being looked at. “Most of the drainage pipes will be located in public access areas, however there are some places where we will need to ask the permission of the private owners whether the pipes can run through their land,” explained Honorable Heredia.

Readers may recall that in 2005, SPTC requested assistance from the private sector in order to assist in the funding of a project of this magnitude. The same request will be submitted this time around. Anyone wishing to contribute to the Barrier Reef Rehabilitation Project, may receive further information by contacting the offices of the San Pedro Town Council at number (226) 2198.

After the information was released to the public, a question and answer session followed. Some of the concerns by the public included:

(1)At a previous meeting, those in attendance unanimously agreed on increasing the vehicle fees. What a person yearly for having a vehicle on the island would be increased. All agreed that by having the roads fixed less money would need to be paid to get said vehicles repaired. That tax money would then stay on the island to assist in the rehabilitation fund. This idea was taken to government where the response from the Prime Minister was a “It’s not a good idea,” explained Mayor Paz.

(2) Another issue was the amount and types of vehicles that would be used in these roads. “If we have these big trucks and vehicles using the new roads, maintenance on them would be constant. Money would be needed for the constant upkeep,” said a concerned citizen. Mayor Paz said that the SPTC is looking at options at the present moment.

Among the many other concerns were beautifying the roads, where the $3.8 million government loan is coming from, and various ways of acquire funding.


#228840 - 02/01/07 10:13 AM Re: San Pedro Street Project a reality [Re: Marty]
beachbumin Offline
This is really good news. It seems that the roads take less time to develop potholes between rain showers and grading these days. The cobble stones will be very attractive. I guess the one thing that continues to be a concern is that with new smooth roads, the speed that taxis and other non golf cart vehicles will be driving could be a real safety concern. Bet if the city invested in a couple of radar guns and set a hefty fine for speeding the project would be paid for in no time, or speeds would come down to a safe level. All in all, this is great news for locals and tourists alike. Thanks to all the folks that pursued the powers that be on this issue.

#229081 - 02/02/07 05:16 PM Re: San Pedro Street Project a reality [Re: beachbumin]
Marty Offline
from Chamber of Commerce

After several meetings and many news articles most of you know the plans for paving. Basically the GOB is loaning our town the money at no interest to pave. It will all be done in cobblestones. There is a complete news story at the bottom of this page.

1)All of Front Street (Barrier Reef Drive) and the side streets not already paved. Starting in a matter of days. Why? Because the plans were already made, and the price given. It was only a matter of money to begin construction.

2) The southern road from the present ending of pavement at Belikin Beer and Island Supermarket. How far it will go has been given at different points: Victoria House, Water Plant, and Escalante Subdivision. Pretty sure they will go as far as the money allows.

#229082 - 02/02/07 05:17 PM Re: San Pedro Street Project a reality [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
from Tom Vidrine

Letter to the Editor on paying for the streets

First our congratulations to ALL of those that are striving to solve our road problems. I greatly appreciate our two political parties coming together to try and work out how to get something done.

Before sending the letter to the papers, several Directors had a chance to make the following comments:

1) That any tax is a bad idea because of the lack of assurance that the money would be used properly, that property owners were paying enough tax, and that the government should be the one paying for the road since they keep all our tax money for the mainland. (Hard to disagree with those comments)

2) That private vehicles should be paying a larger portion of the costs of roads and maintenance for having the privilege of having a vehicle on the island. ( I must agree particularly those that have personal cars and trucks. Since the GOB keeps our present vehicle fees, the annual fee to the Town Board for the right to have a vehicle on the island is the “fees” being discussed.)

3) That commercial vehicles should not be charged to heavily since they will just pass on the cost to the consumers. (Personally I feel that the largest trucks (which mostly carry construction materials to builders and developers) and vehicles that use the road as a business (like taxis) should be paying a fairer share of the repairs to our roads. This Director does have a good point, and I only wish the heavy materials used for building could be assessed differently from typical supplies to the island. I feel consumer goods could easily be carried by smaller trucks, and that if we had only golfcarts on the island we wouldn’t even be paving the road at all)

I thank them for their comments, and always greatly respect anyone’s right to differ in opinions, but even more, appreciate their willingness to express their disagreement directly.

Our Streets – Money, Fairness, and Long-Term Planning

Thank you Andre Perez and the San Pedro Core Group for bringing a long-time street problem to the forefront. And also Steve Schulte for his wisdom in his suggestions on how to pay for the road in his Letter to the Editor. The Chamber of Commerce has tried to this issue for years with little success. I would like to add a few suggestions to his to create a little more fairness and balance, as well as an additional source of income that would be longer term to maintain those streets, as well as provide money for future streets.

Steve made several common sense points that we need to support. I must agree all of them:

1)It is not practical to wait on Belmopan to solve our problem.

2)Whether it is bonds, bank loan or from the government there must be income generated and used to pay the loan back as well as maintain the road.

3)That the property values along the paved areas will increase much more than any temporary street tax that would be added to the owner’s property along the way.

4)That there would be tremendous amounts of money saved by fewer repairs to vehicles by the owners if we had decent streets.

I would like to add to Steve’s suggestions only because they don’t really take into account that ALL of us use and benefit from those streets and that after the new roads are built, we need a continuing source of income to maintain those streets as well as continuing to build more.

Property taxes are already being used to maintain the streets, and along with creating this “street tax” proposed by Steve, the vehicle owners should also be carrying their fair share. There are many property owners that do not have streets at all, and many that do not even have vehicles. Likewise there are many businesses that lease space that have and use vehicles and do not own land, but make their money by use of our roads. There are many people that rent homes and apartments that have vehicles. There are businesses that totally thrive off of road use, especially golfcart rentals, taxis, and delivery trucks.

Just think about WHY we need our streets paved. It is the vehicles that create the problem, so why shouldn’t they help the property owners with the cost? Cars, trucks, golfcarts, and especially the large vehicles are the ones damaging the road. The annual Town Board vehicle fee could easily be raised ten-fold, and allocated towards those that profit from using the streets as part of their business. All commercial vehicles; delivery trucks, taxis, and other business vehicles should be paying a MUCH larger share of this cost.

So suggestions I would like to add to Steve’s are:

1)Continue to demand that GOB help us, and that traffic fees that are all going to Belmopan allowed to be kept here, but not wait for something that is not likely to happen soon, and pursue ways to create the money locally.

2)That our “road” problem cannot be separated from our “vehicle” problem. The number, weight, and size of vehicles is the root of the problem that causes our streets to deteriorate, and should be addressed at the same time.

3)Create Steve’s suggestion of a “street tax” for those property owners along the paved road, but also FAIRLY increase annual vehicle fees to all vehicle owners (who will also greatly benefit from good roads) pay their fair share, as well as generate income to maintain those streets. This has the added benefit of encouraging bikes and pedestrians, while discouraging the rapid uncontrolled increase in the number and size of vehicles.

4)Make our new streets bicycle and pedestrian friendly, and encourage small scooters. Charge those golfcarts with “knobby” tires that break up the sand at little more, but most of all, charge much higher annual fees to the cars, trucks, and especially big vehicles that are constantly on the road and are really the ones creating the endless potholes.

5)Also focus on drainage, which can be done inexpensively, because the runoff is the cause of washouts as well as the potholes becoming so big and deep on the streets that are not paved. Just take a look at the street next to the library built by the Chamber. Designing the slope, and leveling the runoff, makes a world of difference, and it is still in good condition after five years of little maintenance (of course its location also discourages use by large vehicles).

The bottom line is that we MUST come together, and agree on getting it done. How the cost is allocated, who pays for it, what income needs to be created, and how it is done, has to be left to our public officials. That is what we elect them for. Support them now, and if you don’t agree, wait to show your disapproval at the next election. In the meantime, as Andre points out, we need something done NOW.

Together, We Can Make A Difference,

Tom L. Vidrine

President of Ambergris Caye Chamber of Commerce

#229102 - 02/02/07 07:24 PM Re: San Pedro Street Project a reality [Re: Marty]
beachbumin Offline
Saw a big trailer load of cobble stones coming off the barge south of town this afternoon. Hopefully they are headed towards Barrier Reef Drive. Exciting.

#229109 - 02/02/07 08:15 PM Re: San Pedro Street Project a reality [Re: beachbumin]
SP Daily Offline
The lot that is designated as San Pedros future second cemetary...near Sausage Factory..is abuzzin with workers setting up a construction camp for the road construction. Go for it!!!

#229176 - 02/03/07 03:40 PM Re: San Pedro Street Project a reality [Re: SP Daily]
Kerri_Canada Offline
thats awesome!
~* Kerri *~

#231441 - 03/03/07 03:00 PM Re: San Pedro Street Project a reality [Re: Kerri_Canada]
Marty Offline
a couple pics of them redoing front street are here:

#231447 - 03/03/07 03:59 PM Re: San Pedro Street Project a reality [Re: Marty]
WOW! actual paver stones(technically not cobble) expensive stuff but should endure - SUPER!
Surely more environmentally friendly than asphalt too!
Thanks for pics, Marty!

#231534 - 03/05/07 12:08 AM Re: San Pedro Street Project a reality [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
here's a few more pics...

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