Below is an official statement from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.
Subject: FW: Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Responds to Allegations
09 March, 2005 - Belmopan
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment wishes to clarify the recent misleading information presented by certain members of the media regarding the sale of the "Mar de Tumbo Road" and recreational land in San Pedro Town.
In November 2004, Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Hon. John Briceño met with Belize Rural South Area Representative, Hon. Manuel Heredia, San Pedro Town Mayor Elsa Paz and Mr. Seferino Paz Jr., a Belizean investor to discuss purchasing land for a US$7.5 Million expansion project of Grand Colony Resort. Mr. Paz proposed, as part of the agreement, that he would construct brick pavers, planters and proper street lights along the 10 foot roadway, which would remain accessible to the public.
The proposal asked that government consider selling a portion of land between the Banyan Bay Villas and Tropical Beach Resort, which both Hon. Heredia and Mayor Paz recommended and endorsed at that time. However, some weeks later, Mayor Paz sent a letter withdrawing any interest and support towards this particular project.
Last week Monday, 28th February 2005, Minister Briceño met with Hon. Heredia and Mayor Paz to explain that the Ministry had agreed to sell a portion of the road reserve to Mr. Paz because it directly supported public access and provided development opportunities for San Pedro Ambergris Caye. Though they expressed some disappointment, Hon. Heredia and Mayor Paz agreed to meet with the local investors to ensure that they will comply with this agreement. Minister Briceño further assured them that the road reserve had not been sold but that the application was in process.
On 3rd March, concerned residents of San Pedro Town contacted Minister Briceño in regards to the Mar de Tumbo road and the allegations that had surfaced. It prompted the Minister to immediately halt the application process until the matter could be resolved.
He is scheduled to meet with the respective parties in the hope of reaching an amicable solution and reassures residents that the Mar de Tumbo road will remain accessible to the public.
The Ministry seeks to clarify other allegations regarding the sale of a parcel of land set aside for recreational purposes in San Pedro Town.This land has not been sold and will not be sold.
During the discussions with the Area Representative and the Mayor on 28th February, the Minister had indicated the Ministry's recent initiative and new policy to hand-over all recreational lands, parks and public areas to Town Councils countrywide. It was agreed that land inspectors will visit San Pedro Town, as well as other towns, to look at these areas and conduct surveys to officially hand-over land titles in the near future.