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#431173 - 02/23/12 09:10 AM BTB Launches Fort Point Facelift Project
Marty Offline
The 11.7 million US dollar sustainable tourism project is one of the most important tourism initiatives currently underway in Belize.

The project is about enhancing key destinations to encourage longer visitor stays by the overnight tourists.

It is targeting civil works for major tourism areas in San Ignacio, Placencia, Belize city and San Pedro.

Work in san Ignacio is already underway in the downtown area, and Belize City's project component saw its groundbreaking today.

As we found out, the project will re-fashion much of the north side of the downtown area.

Here's how it will all come together:

Jules Vasquez Reporting

Ground was broken and a tree was planted in the Memorial Park today to set the stage for the refurbishment of this park - in fact, more than refurbishing, it will be completely transformed - to look like this:

Christy Mastry - Sustainable Tourism Program
"At the end of 16 months, we really want the residents to expect a completely enlivened, heightened, improved 2-acre Memorial Park, which will really be the merging of the history of the park, which is the Memorial - the war memorial, which we are standing in front of today, as well as the collaboration of tourism which has now embarked upon in this area. The park will be transformed. What we really want to do is create a very significant space for the memorial - the war memorial itself, and keeping that in memoriam of the activities that happen here throughout the year. So we will be recreating a new podium, a new area for the war memorial. We'll be placing plaques in commemoration of the 3 bodies that were buried in here. We'll be doing a new amphitheater and stage as well, to accommodate 200+ seating for the area. And then, we will merge that with the trellis sidewalks covered so that you can walk through the park, shaded from the sun and from the rain throughout the day for tourists and other people engaging in park activities."

And the park is only the centerpiece for this IDB funded tourism project. Called the Belize City Fort Point Pedestrian Walk - the 5.47 million dollar project will deliver a comprehensive renewal of North Front Street from the bridge-foot to the Memorial Park and Tourism Village

Christy Mastry
"It begins at the foot of the Swing Bridge in front of the water taxi terminal, and it will start with widened sidewalks. We will reduce some park, but we will still allow for 1 side of the street parking at all times, perpendicular to the curb to maximize the effect of that parking. But the idea is to really allow the pedestrian to take some priority on those streets. If you walk that street right now, in front of certain properties, the sidewalk dies away completely. So it's really bringing the pedestrian back into this area, as well as organizing the vehicular traffic. One of the whole concepts is creating a uniformity of the area itself to really demarcate this as a pedestrianized area, that really wants to offer itself for 24 hours."

And that 24 hour activity, will see North Front Street's pavement replaced to one similar to the pavement in front of the Fort Street Tourism Village - which means major inconvenience for drivers:

Christy Mastry
"We anticipate North Front Street probably taking a total - once we get started digging up the roadbed - maybe a total of 4 months, but what we plan to do, because the street - especially at the foot of the bridge is very wide - is section the street in half because we are not doing a concrete or any mix in total on top. We can work from one sidewalk, cut the drains, start to put in the new culvert that we're putting in, cover the drains, put the pavers over that, and move into the centerline of the street, then block off that, allow traffic movement, and work on to the other side of street."

Today's open air ceremony was held after two and half years of preparation with the IDB - but happening now two weeks before elections with the UDP-friendly I.E firm as the contracting firm may raise a few eyebrows:

Jules Vasquez
"Whenever a public contract is completed 2 weeks before an election, it always draws adverse commentary, especially if the contracting firm is believed to have connections within the ruling party. Are you able to say that all the awarding of contracts was above board?"

Christy Mastry
"Yes, IDB has a really stringent evaluation process, and a non-objection to go to contract negotiations, let alone the signing of the contracts. It is a series of checks, and it's very simple. Once a firm receives all of those checks, they become a qualifying firm according to IDB standards. And from there, we then pick the lowest bid. It is their procedure for lump-sum contract awards. We have to follow it. We have to submit it. It goes to IDB here, it goes to IDB Washington, and then it's logged in their system."

Work on the project is expected to commence in the next few weeks...

Preliminary work is tentatively set to start before the end of this month - and core works will follow in March.

Channel 5

#431177 - 02/23/12 09:16 AM Re: BTB Launches Fort Point Facelift Project [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

3rd component of Sustainable Tourism Project launched

With elections two weeks away, a number of projects are being unveiled. This afternoon, the third component of the Sustainable Tourism Project for Belize City was launched. It is called the Fort Point Pedestrian Walk and while it is not an actual pedestrian walk, the project contemplates the transformation of the Memorial Park Area. The five million dollar contract was awarded to International Environments, a company owned by the Arguelles brothers. News Five’s Delahnie Bain reports.

Delahnie Bain, Reporting

The private and public sectors are joining forces to uplift the Fort George area. Today the Belize Tourism Board’s Sustainable Tourism Project and the Ministry of Tourism officially launched the Fort Point Pedestrian Walk project, the third infrastructure program on the master plan for Belize City.

Christy Mastry

Christy Mastry, Project Director, Sustainable Tourism Project

“It’s a four year commitment or program that, through an IDB loan to the Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture, with counterpart funding from the B.T.B. has been put together to alleviate destination subject to pressure as well as to help create policies and institutional strengthening to ensure the continuity of this process after these four years.”

Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism

“It is estimated that over three thousand people are employed in the many establishments in the Fort George area and as much as ten thousand people are estimated to enjoy indirect benefits. Five hundred plus individuals reside here and on a monthly basis, it is estimated that more than eight thousand people either drive or walk through on a daily basis.”

The focal point of the project is the Memorial Park, which is to be transformed into the ideal venue for events or simple relaxation. But the development will extend into the streets surrounding the park. STP Director Christy Mastry explained what they are hoping to achieve.

Christy Mastry

“The renovation of the band stand which historically sits behind us today; a trellis walkway that will offer shade and access from the tourism gate all the way to the waterfront, which will now be a drop-off for passengers at the end of the day for bus lines as well as taxi and tour operators; permanent and temporary vending stands; public restrooms; an amphitheatre, which will be created around the renovation of a new stage to accommodate over two hundred seated and up to a thousand standing for events within the park; tour operator parking, especially to accommodate the minivans which surround us here so dedicated at the top of the park, the drop off zone and turnaround at the head of the park; dedicated resident parking. The streetscape improvements extend to over ten thousand linear feet of covered sidewalks that we would be improving; over five thousand feet of cobble stone roadbed that will start at the foot of the swing bridge, all the way up North Front Street surrounding north and South Park Street and the rest of Cork Street.”

The Fort George area was chosen because it is the first part of the country that most visitors see.

Manuel Heredia

Manuel Heredia

“Currently the majority of users are the cruise visitors, who in the past have not had a positive first impression of Belize. Government recognized the need to rejuvenate the Fort George area so as to enhance the experience of our cruise visitors, overnight visitors as well as our very own residents. Indeed, our hope for this area is to create a welcoming environment for day visitors and to encourage overnight visitors and residents to rediscover and utilize the Fort George area as a venue of entertainment and relaxation.”

Christy Mastry

“As the first line of sight to our country, that often thousands of visitors a day will only see in Belize, this is a great opportunity to capitalize on improving the Belize City visitor experience and the overall image of Belize. We’ll take this opportunity to create a very authentic waterfront experience, to celebrate the war memorial, which is the origin and history of this park; to enhance a more authentic made in Belize arts and crafts opportunity, regulate and ease the circulation and transportation use conflicts within the area and hopefully bring restaurants and shops to a lot of the underutilized properties we see around d today.”

Mariam Roberson

And at today’s groundbreaking, the winning contractor was announced by the B.T.B. Chairlady, Mariam Roberson.

Mariam Roberson, Chairlady, B.T.B.

“I’m glad to see that I.E. has the word environment in their name because I know this is in good hands. And with that said, I would like to say that the International Environments, which is both and architectural firm and a construction firm, is known in the community. We have seen many of their projects—I don’t think I need to name all of them—from the US Embassy to the Heritage Point, the Coney Drive Matalon Building and many other projects including the northern border.”

The construction will cost an estimated five point four-seven million Belize dollars and the Fort Point Pedestrian Walk project is expected to be completed in about sixteen months. Delahnie Bain for News Five.

Another accomplishment of the Sustainable Tourism Program is the country’s first tourism master plan, which creates roadmaps and budgets to raise the level of service to match price point expectations. The master plan also helps to determine where growth and infrastructure projects are needed in different destinations.

Channel 5


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