The Battlefield Park is at the center of Belize City - but for decades - it was not a public space in the truest sense. And that's simply because it was over-run with homeless persons, covered in filth and smothered by stench. So, when work to renovate the park started in May, it wasn't just to fix up the place, but to reclaim it as a viable public space.

And from the early reviews we'd say that goal has been surpassed. Sure, they had to close off two vital streets to do it - but, as the old saying goes, if you want breakfast, you're gonna have to break some eggs - and the Belize City mayor smashes 'em by the dozen!

That meal was served up today when the new park was opened and 7news was there:..

Daniel Ortiz reporting
Today, the Newly renovated Battlefield Park was officially opened for public use.

Contractor, International Environments took 4 months to finish the upgrade at a final cost of $375,000. It's an investment which the Belize City Council is proud of:

Darrell Bradley - Mayor, Belize City Council
"This park is in the heart of Belize City. It is the soul of our blessed City and for years this park was a symbol of decay being occupied by people who had no other place to go and being a symbol of the loss of our City and our community. Today we have reclaimed this park. This park is at the heart our commercial district and has been so important to us historically."

So what value did the city residents get for $375,000?

Darrell Bradley - Mayor, Belize City Council
"You will see that there is a fountain, we put in a new bust of Antonio Soberanis, a nice large stand, we have a good pavement colored cement, we had erected two kiosks that going to have businesses in there. We have trees, park benches and different things like that. We are very pleased with the out turn of the park and I am very happy to announce that there is a lot of people who are using the park during the day and in the evening."

"People had complained about using a lot of cement. One of the reasons why we've done so is to really ensure that the park is tamper proof and that it could be maintained, so that if there is any problem or damage we can just wash it off. There are a lot of green spaces still here. A lot of people are sitting in the benches and using it. We hope that the park will be for much future generations of Belizeans for their use."

"One of the things that we are very pleased about is that you can see for the last 4 weeks since the park has been semi-finish there has not been any homeless persons in the park. We've really reclaimed this public space and that's what we want to do to the other public spaces. By simply injecting investment in there - having a plan and making it look nice - you will encourage visitors and residents to come back into the park and that will gradually deal with a lot of our social issues."

But while completed works represent the physical investment, the Mayor wants to preserve the value of its historical significance.

Darrell Bradley - Mayor, Belize City Council
"The first record of the use of this park was from 1638. It has had historical significance for our people. You could say that our Belizean nation emerged from this very space that we stand today. George Price and Phillip Goldson spoke in this platform. Antonio Soberanis spoke here. The Labour Movement was birthed here. The Independence Movement was birthed here. Our political gatherings are held here so that this park now as renovated will be a celebration of Belizean life and our renewal and our transformation."

A key part of the Park is the bust of Belize's greatest Labour Unionist, Antonio Soberanis Sr. Today Steven Okeke's bust was unveiled to the delight of the Soberanis' family which had pushed for the old one to be retired:

Antonio Soberanis Jr. - Son Of Labour Unionist
"It really represents a very thoughtful and a very concern and very satisfied and the family is very happy to see that at least somebody remember to do something in advance for my father that we the family have appreciated. The bust of Antonio Soberanis is almost a 100% accurate."

Darrell Bradley - Mayor, Belize City Council
"It was very important to us to really represent the likeness of Antonio Soberanis in a way that his family wanted and would accord with their wishes and intention, so that when we have conversations with them about participating in the re-opening - they really made it an essential issue that we would upgrade the statue and we would make it be something that is respective of the spirit and persona of Antonio Soberanis who was a great warrior for Belizean rights."

"We procured the statue from Stephen Okeke, we got donation included from Belize Electricity Limited to be able to acquire the statue. I am very happy. It's a focal point for the park."

Soberanis's fmaily says that while this new bust overlooks the park, the real man was more significant than the historical record suggests:

Antonio Soberanis Jr. - Son Of Labour Unionist
"My father made a life sacrifice for this country and I would say with due respect, there is no other politician second to my father Antonio Soberanis because what sacrifice he made I have not seen it for the 87 years that I have live done by any other politician."

The renovated park has 2 wardens who are paid to maintain it. Because of its design, City Hall says that they foresee that only the fountain will be costly to maintain.

Channel 7