Marco Gonzalez Maya Site gets its official SI
Minister of Tourism, Aviation and Culture, Hon. Manuel Heredia was at the BTB (Belize Tourism Board) Office in San Pedro on Friday, April 1st at 2:00pm along with representatives from the Marco Gonzalez Maya Site Ambergris Caye Ltd. Group (MGMSAC), members of the Government of Belize (GOB), National Institute of Culture and History (NICH); Institute of Archeology (IA) and other invited guests; for the signing of the Statutory Instrument (SI) for the MGMSAC and a Memorandum of Understanding (MU) between all parties involved for the management of the site.
Invited guests included: Ms. Diane Haylock, President NICH: from the IA; George Thompson, Acting Director; Dr. John Morris, Associate Director, Research; Brian Woodye, Associate Director, Parks; Dr. Allan Moore, Associate Director, Education and Melissa Badillo, Staff Archaeologist. From the Marco Gonzalez Board of Directors: Jan Brown, Founder/Chairman; Joe Lawrence, Matt Fowler and Ricky Verde. From the San Pedro Tourism Stakeholders: Mayor Elsa Paz, BTB San Pedro Office Staff; Minister's Secretary Betty Longsworth, Julie Babcock, BTIA; representatives from San Pedro Tour Guide Association; Gach Guerrero, Maya Island Air and others.
The signing of the SI was a historical one for Ambergris Caye as it makes the site the first and only reserve on an island. After the signing, Hon. Manuel Heredia told the The San Pedro Sun, "Ever since Jan decided to come onboard with this project, she had been moving up and down trying to do her best. I think it has been months since this project went underway. I believe that as the Minister responsible, I have to do things right and for that reason the SI was done, as mandated, to be able to have Jan operate the site."
He explained that he further supports the project as it provides an added attraction that the island can offer to its visitors and locals alike; especially the young children who will be now have the opportunity to experience the wonders of our Mayan history without the costly need to travel to the mainland. He went on to state, "I feel that this should have been done a long time ago but we needed people like Jan and her group who have been instrumental in the island not only with Marco Gonzalez but other festivities that we have had on the island as well".
While Mr. Heredia expressed his disappointment in locals who have not taken the initiative to spearhead causes such as this one, he thanked and expressed his appreciation to the Ex-pats who have made San Pedro their home and contributed and continue to contribute to the growth and betterment of the island. Minister Heredia added that he hopes to secure further assistance for the Bacalar Chico Nature Reserve as well, which is in needed of attention and other archeological sites up north. He pledged 20,000 to assist in the MGMS; $10,000from NICH and $10,000 from BTB to be used in the construction of an access route to the site.
A delighted Jan Brown told The San Pedro Sun, "I'm walking on air. My feet haven't touched the ground all day. Now that we have reached our agreements, we're the first co-management that will be able to work with NICH, IA and with the Government and we're very proud that they trust us enough to know that we'll protect their interests - as a recognized Archeological site many avenues of funding becomes opened to the project, we will be looking for grants and we'll be able to go international." Her excitement peaked as she ended expressing her thanks, "I really like to thank everybody for all their hard work. I thank NICH, IA and the Minister Heredia for allowing this project to become a reality for the people of San Pedro and for the people of Belize".
Mr. George Thompson, Associate Director for Planning and Policy and the Acting Director at IA stated, "We'll continue with the work and to do our very best to do all the things necessary for protection and preservation; and to provide all the necessary infrastructure that is reasonably necessary for the full enjoyment of these archeological resources."
The first SI that was signed was to declare the reserve opened to the public. It also gives stakeholders the legal mechanism to put all things necessary in place for the proper management and the responsible use and enjoyment of the site. Strategic planning can now commence for the necessary infrastructure and management presence at the site. This would include having park rangers to administer the site, the creation of trails, visitor centers, restroom facilities, parking facilities and all other amenities needed for the site to be run efficiently.
The site will be managed by the MGMSAC Ltd Group. This would include the collection of fees and the daily running of the site. Entrance fees have been set at $20 for foreigners and $10 for locals. A date has not been set for the completion of the infrastructure needed in order to properly operate the site, however all that can be said, is that the partners have pledged to work together to make it happen. To read up on the cool findings and happenings at Marco Gonzalez go to the following link on our blog:
San Pedro Sun