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#250286 - 09/20/07 07:51 PM Stake Bank Project
Marty Offline
Mike Feinstein Speaks on His Stake Bank Project

The Stake Bank Cruise Tourism Project, it’s a subject of much public debate and controversy. And, for good reason. Staged on an island off the coast, it will see the development of a fully decked out cruise tourism resort on what used to be a mangrove island, and it will be connected to the city by a 5 mile causeway – a road over the water – making it one of the most ambitious engineering feats ever proposed in Belize.
And more than that, the entire project is valued at US$35 million, a joint venture, we are told, between Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and Mike Feinstein. But, it’s Feinstein’s project and so far he says he put $9 million into Stake Bank. Today, Feinstein who rarely appears in the media, agreed to speak with News Director Jules Vasquez. He defended his project against public criticism and misapprehension, and also commented on the rivalry with Luke Espat’s cruise terminal project.
Jules Vasquez Reporting,
Stake Bank it’s a 20-acre island just off the coast of Belize City. It used to be all mangrove but now it’s been shorn of that – and as this promotional 3D rendering shows, it will be transformed into a cruise resort destination.
Mike Feinstein, Tourism Developer
“Stake Bank is designed to work hand in hand with the existing village. So after completion, hopefully we can get the numbers back up to a million or a million and five and the actual traffic in Belize City and the existing tourism village will probably double. This is not taking away anything from what’s happening. This is just enhancing the situation. We are saving the industry basically.”
Saving the industry, but for whom. Much of the public apprehension about this project is about its remote location and private ownerships.
Jules Vasquez,
Your critics say that it is in fact insulating all the wealth and economic opportunities associated with it, isolating it on that island and keeping it away from the masses who benefit everyday off of it, or every cruise day.
Mike Feinstein,
“On the contrary, I see it is as the opposite. It will create more jobs and more profit for Belize. If a cruise ship docks at Stake Bank, if you go to a country on a cruise ship, you want to see that country, you don’t want to just get off on a little island and say you’ve been to Belize. You haven’t been to Belize, you need to go downtown, you need to see Belize. So its just a wrong perception.”
Jules Vasquez,
Whether it’s a taxi driver or craft vendor or a hair braider, these people have great apprehension about Stake Bank. They feel it will be a gated area, nobody will be allowed in, and that it is isolating the wealth associated with cruise tourism. What would you say to those people?
Mike Feinstein,
“Their misunderstanding the whole concept and that is why we’re probably talking today. Like I mentioned earlier, the traffic in Belize City and along with the existing tourism village, will probably double and hair braiding and this sort of thing is what the tourist wants and therefore it has to be out at Stake Bank as well and if you look at the agreement, its called the ECP, which we’ve signed already, the causeway is a public causeway. It is not a private causeway. It is not something that I can control.”
Jules Vasquez,
So how will these entry level service providers, how will they get their piece of the pie in a scenario where cruise ships are docking at Stake Bank? Explain to me physically how it would work.
Mike Feinstein,
“We’re doing another tourist village out there. So everything that’s here will be out there. We will have duty free shopping, we’ll have restaurants, swimming pool, beach activities and vendors, hair braiders – everything has to be done out there as well as in here. So like I said, the opportunity just quadruples in there.”
Jules Vasquez,
Critics of your project have told me that the thing about Mike Feinstein’s project is that he wants to control everything. If you drive a vehicle into Stake Bank, he has to get a tax off that vehicle. If you come and work inside Stake Bank Caye, he has to get a tax off you; he is the Mayor of Stake Bank and he has to get a cut of every transaction.
Mike Feinstein,
“I am not sure where that came about but we rent facilities, that’s what it is all about. We collect our rent, we rent every space that we could rent and that’s it.”
And where does Feinsten’s vision fit in with Luke Espat’s for Belize Cruise Terminal Limited?
Jules Vasquez,
There is an injunction that has been taken out by the attorney for Luke Espat, Eamon Courtenay, against the government prohibiting them from issuing a port license. How consequentially does that affect your development?
Mike Feinstein,
“I am not sure that I need a port license. We are working partners with Royal Caribbean at this time. They have the only port of entry for cruise ship passengers as we speak and we’re continuing to use that. We’re not applying for a port license at this time.”
Jules Vasquez,
Do you fear lawsuits originating from Belize Port Limited if you choose to, as you say, simply draft off the port license that Fort Street has?
Mike Feinstein,
“I don’t know what they can do about that, that’s already existing.”
Jules Vasquez,
Yeah but they can argue that it cannot legally be sub-assigned or assigned to another entity.
Mike Feinstein,
“Well our legal advice says its not and Royal Caribbean’s legal team has said they don’t have a problem with that.”
And while Feinstein doesn’t believe that he needs a port license, he says Espat does need environmental clearance.
Mike Feinstein,
“We have all our environmental clearances to move forward. I’m not sure where they are with their environmental process. As far as I know, they don’t have an environmental clearance. Jules as far as I am concerned, you cannot build a project before you have environmental clearance. They do not have environmental clearance. We do and we have been moving forward and we continue to move forward. I have no objection to their project but they have an issue that they need to clarify.”
And now Feinstein says that his project has partnership form Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and backing of the worldwide industry in general.
Mike Feinstein,
“My commitment is only with Royal.”
Jules Vasquez,
Are they investing in your project?
Mike Feinstein,
“Royal will and they have. As a matter of fact the engineers who are designing the cruise ship dock are here in Belize now and we have signed a million dollar contract with them already to design the first genesis class dock. Royal is paying part of that bill so they have committed to it, in more ways than one.”
Jules Vasquez,
How much?
Mike Feinstein,
“It looks more like a balance playing field with Royal. They are asking for at least 50%. At the last meeting in Florida it was made quite clear to the Tourist Board that the industry prefers the Stake Bank Project and overall basically a project has to be done or they will bypass Belize. So I have no objections to negotiating. This will probably prevail but I’m moving forward. We’re not fighting. I think there’s a misunderstanding. I am not fighting with the port project and they are not fighting with me either. It’s the media that’s cause trouble.”
Of course the public debate and the industry debate are just two issues, and the environmental debate is another. Next week, we’ll have more from our conversation with Feinstein as we’ll look at that aspect of the US$35 million project

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#250436 - 09/22/07 12:56 PM Re: Stake Bank Project [Re: Marty]
Chachacoconut Offline
Good information , Thanks
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#250528 - 09/23/07 09:22 PM Re: Stake Bank Project [Re: Chachacoconut]
seashell Offline
I found it interesting that he gets an environmental clearance for this when he has removed all the mangroves from his island.
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#251085 - 09/28/07 09:11 PM Re: Stake Bank Project [Re: seashell]
Marty Offline
from friends...

There used to be good bottom fishing around Stake Bank. On the E and SE side there was a long shallow bank of turtle grass, the brown type not the green type around the cayes. You could catch a lot of dog tooth snappers, not big ones, but nice frying size. Wah ole time fishaman, James Rodah, uze tuh mi ker mi deh guh fishining.

As I recall, Stake Bank is really not a natural island, but grew up from a jettison site where old sailing ships loaded with rock as ballast would dump it before loading cargo, It gradually built up and silted and became a small island. Maybe thats just an old legend, but makes sense.
=============
Broke down in a boat i had just bought in 1992 with a 45 outboard merc about 2 miles wsw of stake bank. Fished all night in about 35-40 feet of water and caught a lot of snappers with sardines/sprat. Not the kind of fishing one looks forward to but when life throws you lemons its time to make lemon juice. Water around that key is pretty shallow.

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#251943 - 10/05/07 04:34 PM Re: Stake Bank Project [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
from a long time captain in our waters

You cannot build a cruise ship terminal on the coastline of Belize. Current
and wave action would require constant dredging. Stake Bank is a more
feasible place, with 60 feet of water around it. the Drowned Cayes and
Manatee preserve need to be left alone. The other options are Sapodilla
Caye and Deep River. The PUP rejected the use of cruise ships to develop
the Southern part of Belize by doing this though and wanted it for Belize
City, where the votes and largest number of election divisions have been
created.

-------------------------------

response from another friend

Why go all the way to Sapodilla Caye in the deep south when you have, for
example, Water Caye that sits right on the English Caye Channel, literally.
And Water Caye is only about a 10 min boatride from Stake Bank?

The logical location, sans causeway, is water caye and there is such a thing
called the public purpose act. Re-aquire it. The boys can still hussle off
of it like they plan to do with a nonsensical causeway.

The word assenine comes to mind whenever i hear mention of that stake bank
project.

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#257365 - 11/21/07 12:34 PM Re: Stake Bank Project [Re: Marty]
B S P Offline
VERY INTERESTING ,THANKS

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#260424 - 12/22/07 01:40 AM Re: Stake Bank Project [Re: B S P]
Marty Offline
from friends

On Rosalie's Sunday show the PM said something to the effect that the Port Loyola cruise terminal would probably go through and that the Stake Bank cruise project would be a tourism development because the causeway seemed to be the problem for Stake Bank.

See this picture of Stake Bank being developed, 16 acres of mangroves all removed!!!



Now that the mangroves are gone, it would only take one good storm to totally erase this island from the map. This looks like total disaster to me.

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