The Director of the Holy Cross Anglican School, Vernon Wilson, is calling on the Mayor of San Pedro Town, Elsa Paz and the Area Representative and Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture, Honorable Manuel Heredia to take on the responsibility of building an adequate road access to the school. The director's call came shortly after the school began experiencing accessibility problems following localized flooding left behind by the rainy conditions and constant high tides.
In a letter to the local media, Mr. Wilson of Holy Cross stated that "It has been over four years since Holy Cross Anglican School opened its doors at the request of the Mayoress and the Honorable Minister Heredia. Over this time, the Town (Town Council) has donated six truck loads of sand to the school." Wilson claimed that thus far, the school has had to deal with several problems without the support of the Mayor and the Minister, specifically with the construction of an adequate access road to the school. Holy Cross has over 500 students enrolled and Wilson claims that without the road, parents and children have to wade through water and London bridges to get to school every occasion that it rains or when there is a high tide.
Wilson, who is currently out of the country, told The Sun that over $4 million dollars has been invested in the construction and infrastructure of the school. This is of course through generous donors and personal investments. The aforementioned figure of course, does not include expenses to run the school over the past four years. Wilson explained, "Everyone knows that the water in San Mateo is highly contaminated. Hence the road is an urgent matter and the problem belongs to the Mayor and the Minister. They need to take responsibility to build an adequate road." So far Wilson has secured an adequate stretch of land to be used as a road that would lead to the school.
Minister Heredia, for his part, stated that, "I agree that I told Wilson about the need of another school before Holy Cross was built, but I did not say to him that we will build the school. We told him that we would help as much as we (the government) can." When asked why it is that Holy Cross has not seen that help, Minister Heredia explained that, "it has been tough for the Town Council side and for our Government, we are trying our best to help but we can just do as much as our resources allow us to do." Minister Heredia however fired back at Wilson claiming that, "If Wilson was a bit more flexible, he would have gotten all the help that Holy Cross needed." Minister Heredia stated that investor Jeff Pierce of Reef Village had offered landfill to the school plus an additional acre of land, an offer that Wilson has allegedly turned down time and time again.
Wilson claims that the offer made by Pierce was after the current administration gave Pierce property title to a parcel of land measuring 12.94 acres in March of 2008. The property was originally assigned for school expansion under the auspices of former Land Minister Honorable John Briceño. Minister Heredia clarified that Minister Briceño designated the area for school expansion but his successor (Florencio Marin Sr.) leased out the property to one Alex Nuñez who in turn sold to Pierce. Minister Heredia explained that Pierce applied for the property title after he had built condos and sold them to third parties. The title was approved by the current administration. "Ministers Gaspar Vega, Patrick Faber and Heredia had promised that they would have taken away the land from Pierce and return it to the school, but again they have failed," explained Wilson. When asked why the current administration approved the title instead of returning it to the school Heredia explained that, "a caution was placed on the property, but Pierce had already built and paid for it. We explained to Wilson that the Government did not have the money to reacquire the land, nor would it be feasible to do it. Pierce was willing to assist the school with land fill plus return an acre of land, something that was also turned down."
Wilson also stated that Mayor Paz had originally committed to assist the school with landfill at an affordable price of $140.00 per truck load. He went on to say that it took the Town Council over a year to allow a school cab over the bridge to transport students especially in deplorable weather conditions. Mayor Paz in her defense stated that the Council owns no landfill material and in fact has to purchase it for the municipality's use. Paz went on to explain that she had offered to talk to the suppliers to assist the school with material at cost price. That offer, Wilson claims, never materialized. As for the building of the road, Mayor Paz stated that her jurisdiction has nothing to do with schools. She added that the Town Council will not invest in any road if the government has not assigned the access area as an official road/street.
Wilson stated that even if the relevant authorities do not have the required funds to build the urgently needed access road, the beaches always need to be cleaned of debris which can be used as land fill for a dry road. Wilson stated that, "All I am asking is for them (Mayor Paz and Minister Heredia) to take responsibility and build the road." He ended his letter by stating that, "It is time for a change and the time is now." Holy Cross Anglican School, which is located in one of the most undeveloped areas on Ambergris Caye, is run by the Anglican Dioceses. It is the only school on the island that offers a feeding program for their enrollment through generous contributions.
San Pedro Sun