Draft of Municipal Plans developed for San Ignacio and Santa Elena Towns

A working document or draft of the Municipal Development Project Plan for the Twin Towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena has been presented to residents. The contents of the documents were disclosed on Thursday, December 4 at the Cayo Welcome Center in San Ignacio Town. The work in progress comes as part of technical assistance under the Municipal Development Project now being implemented by the Social Investment Fund (SIF) in nine of the municipalities in Belize, except for Belize City and San Pedro.

As explained by Clifford King, Local Government Officer working within the Ministry of Local Government, the Municipal Development Project is funded by a 30 million dollar loan facility from the World Bank that was signed in 2010. Under this Project streets have been improved such as West Street in San Ignacio and Eden Drive in Santa Elena, but additional fulcrum have been provided to the San Ignacio based Town Council over the last four years to bring about improved municipal management. Thus; a detailed forward plan that spans for over a decade (fifteen years) for the Twin Towns has been developed, which has already been presented to some stakeholders but more input is now needed from the public.

The draft proposal as presented by Melanie Usher Danilczy, human resource and revenue manager at the San Ignacio Town Council, attempts to project what needs to be in place in terms of land and other resources in the next 15 years, in order for the residents to be most efficiently served. The management plan has already revealed that there are three populated areas in both the San Ignacio and Santa Elena Towns with no electricity. To a lesser degree, these are the Boiton Area and behind the new community hospital in San Ignacio Town, but the Bradley’s Bank in Santa Elena, “…has a larger number without electricity” says Melanie Danilczy.

In presenting the draft document and in the face of 2.6 million dollars now owed to the San Ignacio Town Council in property taxes, Melanie Danilczy also said that we need to ensure that residents are linking paying taxes with development because “…paying taxes is one of the biggest challenge.”

Mayor John August described that the Twin Towns will continue on in its rapid transformation in the next few years. He explained that the vision for the San Ignacio and Santa Elena Towns in the next 15 years is to be one where it is modern, vibrant and a peaceful municipality providing a multitude of efficient services that assures the well being of all residents and visitors, while maintaining a healthy and green environment. In this vision, said Mayor John August, the Towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena will be securing itself as the number one tourism hub in Belize, proud of its local history, nature and cultural traditions. Mayor August also explained to the public that he wished he had such a plan; as the Municipal Development Plan, when he first entered into office.
“This is a document that will be here for many years to come, after me, the next Mayor that comes, he will be able to have this document and he will be able to know what areas of the Municipality, the development should occur, where development should not occur.”

Some of the members of the Local Planning Working Group (LPWG) that contributed towards the Municipal Development Plan for the Twin Towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena were Shary Medina; Councilor, Earl Trapp; Councilor, Karen Fernandez; Town Administrator and Juan Polanco, Architect for the San Ignacio and Santa Elena Town Council. Other members of the LPWG were Melanie Danilczyk, from the Revenue Department; Wilfredo Zetina, from the Traffic Department; Escander Bedran, business owner; Anthony Mai, from the Civil Society and Mick Flemming, owner of Chaa Creek. Additional support came to the LPWG team from Dorian Enriquez, a geographic information system (GIS) technician.

The Guardian