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#483029 - 01/15/14 03:32 AM War of The Redís Over Seashore Drive Park?
Marty Offline
The City Council is locked in a battle with the Lands Department and private landowner, Giovanni Blease. We first reported on the story six weeks ago - where parcel 3820 in Caribbean Shores was under dispute. The council and area residents want to preserve the entire parcel as a park; Blease's attorney said they can have their park, but the other half of the parcel is for her client.

It's being going back and forth since then - but now it seems that forces are aligning against the council. That was apparent after the Lands and Survey Department sent City Hall a cease and desist letter. But if you know Mayor Darrell Bradley, that kind of resistance is what gets him going - and he was on today when the media asked him about the land dispute:..

Darrell Bradley, Mayor - Belize City
"We do not want any private development in that area. We do not want this land to be issued to any private persons. These people are saying that they own that land, they cannot show today's date that any title has been issue to Mr. Blease. The title is still in the hands of the Government of Belize - that land is still being maintained by the City Council."

Jules Vasquez reporting
He's talking about this park - Ground Zero in a dispute between the UDP City Council and a private interest with major UDP strings. The private interest says the public property ends here where this boulder is - but on the title map of the area, there's only one parcel 3820, undivided.

The dispute stepped up on December 31st, New Year's Eve, these pieces of playground equipment were installed in the area beyond the boulder with the blessing of the city council and funding of concerned area residents.

They were trying to occupy the entire parcel 3820 - to get a leg up on the competing private interest.

On January 6th. the Lands And Survey's Department sent the council this stern letter warning that it is unlawfully occupying parcel 3820, and that it does not have the right to use or enjoy the land, and that it must cease and desist occupation of the land immediately.

Darrell Bradley, Mayor - Belize City
"I don't know how they could say that to us because this property has previously been earmarked as a park and it's our mandate to be maintaining parks."

So, the city fired back an email saying that parcel 3820 is a public and municipal reserve land slated for use as a public park.

The mayor himself followed up with a letter to the commissioner of lands in Belmopan yesterday. He states his strenuous objection to de-reserving the land and granting title to Geovanni Blease and attached a petition with the signatures of 48 residents.

Today in speaking with the press, the mayor re-emphasized his point:

Darrell Bradley, Mayor - Belize City
"We are not attacking anyone, we are not saying anyone is to blames for this, but what we want is that we want that parcel to remain for public use."

Also the mayor points out there's a major drainage outflow in the area:

Darrell Bradley, Mayor - Belize City
"If there is a development there, more than likely the person who would then own that piece of land would build a structure there and if they block that drain it would likely caused a back flow and it would likely affect the flooding conditions in that area."

But one of the inconvenient truths of this whole story is that the so called park has been long abandoned:

Jules Vasquez
"That area has been neglected, abandoned, the gazebo that you lovingly refer to is in fact used for many nefarious and illicit and night time activities. The City Council has been neglecting that area almost in perpetuity and now that Mr. Blease, the good little Belizean is interested, the man plants a seed and you say kill it before it grows."

Darrell Bradley, Mayor - Belize City
"Well, if that's your argument I will confess that the City has been ignoring many public spaces for a significant period of time. The fact that that has been the past does not inhibit our ability to say well look, this is an area that has atleast provide sea breeze for residents, have at least provided an area where people could walk their dogs in the morning or their children and sit and enjoy some sort of public and recreation area. To say that that area be given out to a private individual to me would damage the public interest and the public good."

And the public good, he says, is already undermined, by these garish mansions and a high fenced boat yard.

Darrell Bradley, Mayor - Belize City
"One of the things that we are very seriously concerned about is that private lands are being given out right at the seafront. If you see that there are three large structures right adjacent to this park, those are areas which we didn't want those to be given out. At that time I wasn't in office and those kinds of things. What we see is a huge is a precedent being set that you are giving out this parcel of land for private development and what will happen in the future is that you will give out more sea frontage and you are going to block people."

Now that's all well and good, but what isn't being said is that Blease - who has UDP connections seems to have the support of the Lands Department in his cause:

Jules Vasquez
"Sir, how much of this is UDD versus UDP in so far as, not to make imputations against Mr. Blease, but the allegations is that they are moving hands behind this transaction which are UDP hands which are trying to do what might be called a land grab because sea frontage is precious real estate and now the UDP City Council is trying to fight against that."

Darrell Bradley, Mayor - Belize City
"That is a very valuable piece of land. If you had an assessment on that land you would see that that land is probably worth several hundred thousand dollars. Why is it that a piece of land that is so very much valuable would be issued out to somebody? And I will ask you, ask that person to say how much they are paying for that piece of property. I will guarantee you that it's not a significant amount of money that is going into the government treasury. To me that is disconcerting. That is something that we are totally against. I have no problem with Mr. Blease, he is a Belizean, and he has a right to own private property. All we are saying is don't own that property that the City Council maintains as a park."

Now, everything is coming down to a hearing before the Lands Commissioner on January 29th:

Darrell Bradley, Mayor - Belize City
"What the hearing will be is a hearing to remove our caution. If our caution is removed then what will happen is that that land will likely be issued out to the private individual."

The mayor says he hopes it doesn't go that way:

Darrell Bradley, Mayor - Belize City
"It is going to have serious deleterious effects on residents. It's going to clogged up the drains and residents will lose a space which right is earmarked as a public area and if this is going to happen then they will lose that area and what we want, our primary objective is to ensure that a precedent is not set so that the entire area of Seashore Drive is not given out to private development, so that you will block the public enjoyment of the sea view."

Blease's attorney Vanessa Retreage did not return our request for a comment on the mayor's statements.

Next is the January 29th hearing which will be held before the registrar of lands. The hearing is being held to determine if the caution that the City Council has on the parcel of land can be lifted - which would give Blease access to what he says is his area.

Channel 7

#483048 - 01/15/14 05:11 AM Re: War of The Redís Over Seashore Drive Park? [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
Of course this is the area Bradley will challenge Santi Castillo to become the next rep
Belize based travel specialist


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