History of Piers

ake a good guess. How many piers do you estimate there are betv Ramon's Village and the high school? Quite a lot, eh? Now close your eyes and imagine San Pedro, a fishing village, with only one pier standing right where the main pier is in front of Big Daddy's. Yes, there was a time when there was only one pier for many years.

The main pier was a short wooden pier, some 100 feet long built by government of Belize and maintained by the village councils. Every five years or so, the government would send planks and other pieces of lumber and the village council with local labour would repair the pier. It was public and used by everyone - fishing boats, fruit boats, cargo boats, and an occasional visit of a yacht, or even the visit of the British Governor on board the government motor boats known as La Patricia or the Lolette. That main pier was also the site for a lot of fishing, especially night hand line fishing. Additionally the main pier was the village's favorite swimming spot and on any given afternoon, one would find some 50 children, boys and girls, swimming at the white spots on both sides of the main pier, which incidentally was quite deep from beginning to end.

When the main pier became too small, too short and too narrow, the government extended it by another 100 feet, this time out of concrete.

A second early pier was known as "el muelle del astillero" and located more or less by the Sunbreeze area. This was a very long pier built by Blake to load coconuts into the cargo boats. At that time it was the last pier and also the end of the village. Another early pier belonged to one Roger Reid who was married to Nela Blake; he too exported coconuts and built this pier right where Paradise Villas are located.

Two other early piers were private piers. One belonged to a Belize City businesswoman, Mrs. Serafina Encalada and this pier had a krawl, an enclosed swimming area with a small house. That one was exactly where the Tackle Box Bar is located. The other one belonged to another Belize City businessman, one Mr. Ayuso and was in front of his vacation house where Spindrift is at present.

Thereafter came the tourism industry and piers developed at random to serve the interests of the hotels. Holiday and Paradise Hotels were among the first ones to build theirs. Other hotels followed and soon there were dive shops, then air compressors, restaurants, bars, gift shops, gas stations, palapas, boat garages, and what have you.

Now back to your guess question. There are 21 piers, many of them with structures between Ramon's and the high school. If you add the rest of the beachfront, there are over 60 of them. In some spots they are very congested. Some are eye sores. Others are elegant. All of them serve a specific purpose, so I guess we need them all.

The question now is where will we go from now and what else will built? Who all are entitled the right to build? Can you build only if you live on the beach and only in front of your property? Are these piers private or must they be public? Can you prevent people from walking up them? Can you charge a fee for docking? Can you conduct a business on public land, I mean water. Who should have the control - Central Government or the Town Board or the Housing and Planning Committee? This matter about piers is a very controversial issue and Twenty Five Years Ago recommends that it be looked into soon- soon before I start building mine on the canal adjacent to my house, and soon before someone else comes up with the idea of a discotheque or a mechanic shop or even a convenience store.

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