L ast week we learned that the acquisition of the San Pedro Town's core was done by the government in the 1960's. The second area to be developed was the San Juan Area. How did this come to happen?
For many years the people of San Pedro did not need any more land. The town's core was sufficient. What people were doing was building a second house on their parents' lots. Check around San Pedro and see how many yards have two houses. Some of the larger lots - those that were 100 by 100 feet have as many as three houses in one yard. But this had to come to an end. There is a saturation point where you just can't fit in any more. When more land for housing was eventually needed, the San Pedro Lots Committee recurred to the 3rd Street near the lagoon now called Angel Coral Street and Almond Street. It was all a mangrove area and around 1973 or thereabouts, it was cleared and subdivided for lots. The village council had no funds to fill these lots, so they were issued as they were and the owners were supposed to do the filling. But in the meantime, the government of George Price saw the need for more land for the village was rapidly expanding and tourism was in full bloom and there were 300 children in the primary schools and 60 in the high school. So the government proceeded to acquire another large chunk of land from Paradise Hotel area to the Boca del Rio area, from beach to lagoon. This land belonged to one Roger Reid. This happened in 1971. Once again he asked for his price. Government made an offer. An evaluation was made and the matter went to court. Finally the court made its ruling and the government bought and owned the area. The late Mrs. Vilma Arceo suggested the San Juan Statue and the village council accepted the idea and the name.
Once again the San Pedro Lots Committee was busy accepting applications and issuing lots. The understanding was that only residential buildings were to be built in the San Juan Area. At first the beach lots and the first street lots were issued - about 100 of them. And thus the place developed. George Eiley was one of the first residents to move to the area. Mrs. Leonor Rosado was another early resident of the San Juan area. However, some of the lots were converted into business areas and we find hotels, stores and even bars in the area. The lots committee in the 1980's tried hard to develop a beautiful area and did a good job with the beach and first street as is evident with the planned development. But with the increase of population from outside of San Pedro, the need for more land for homes soon became evident.
In the late 1980's the then lots committee allowed San Juan area by the lagoon to develop like a ghetto or at least in an unplanned manner. The lots were given to anyone who could not even afford to build a decent house. Moreover, the government did not provide electricity, nor water, or even worst, no sewer system. Thus, one area of San Juan developed in an unplanned way. Efforts have been made in electrification, filling of streets etc., but a sewer system is desperately needed in the area. And right across the river, I do not know whose "bright" idea it is, another slum is developing - again with no sewer and 100% contamination of the land and sea.
All in all, we are proud of the second part of our town - San Juan. There are lovely residences, Rock's Inn, San Pedro High School, popular bars, a supermarket, hardware stores, restaurants, repair shops, a gym, auto-mechanic shop, and a struggling but hopeful community. Now we need the statue once again to welcome people to San Juan. Hello! Statue Committee, please!