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Why Is the Relocation of RC School A Good and Bad Thing!

rc school relocation

As soon as word broke that the San Pedro Roman Catholic School (RC School) was relocating from downtown San Pedro and that the property was being sold off to a developer, emotions started flying out the door and people were expressing their discontent of the move, while others are happy with the decision. Most are concerned as to who the property is being sold off to and asking why is there the need to move and sell the property.

I sat down with Father Eduardo Montemayor of the San Pedro Roman Catholic Church to get the gist of all that’s happening with the school. The fact is that the school will be moving to a new property at the entrance of the Escalante Subdivision (next to Caribbean Chicken) in about two year’s time. The sale of the property in which the school sits right now is in its final stages and there will be a lot happening, both at the new school site and in the old one, once it’s sold.

rc school relocation
San Pedro Roman Catholic School grounds is located in the center of all town activity

Why is the Relocation of RC School a Good Thing?

I got a glimpse of the architectural renderings of the new school campus; and yes it can be called a campus now, not school grounds. The school will move from a 1.2 acre plot to a huge 6-acre campus providing space for much-needed classrooms and lots more. Come up! Here are reasons why the relocation of the school is a Good Thing:

> More Space for Students: Ft. Montemayor says that the school rejects over 50 students each year due to the lack of space. It’s a well-known fact that the school has outgrown its current location for years now, and the facilities are lacking major amenities to properly accommodate the over 800 student body. The goal will be to accommodate about up to 1,300 students at the new campus, and reject no more children.

> More Amenities on Campus: Here’s what the new campus will provide – A cafeteria (supply food so that students don’t have to leave for lunch break), an auditorium (to house special events), ball courts/sports areas (more extra curricular activities), a small chapel, a library (with state-of-the-art learning aids), teacher’s dormitories (to aid in reducing housing costs for teachers) and even a new High School and Vocational School division. WOW! Yes, these are all in the plans.

> New Vocational High School: The San Pedro Vocational High School will be built to offer secondary education to the students of RC Primary School. The high school would offer normal secondary education plus added vocational subjects tailored to the island’s businesses’ need, including culinary arts, hotel management skills, construction, electrical, website design, carpentry, AC repair, mechanics, etc. The idea is to partner with at least 50 different island employers to offer entry-level positions in which students can be mentored and gain valuable work experience and prepare them for the workforce. This, in turn, would help pay for the students’ education. Upon graduating, the students will have a high school degree plus a certificate for their vocation, and hopefully job offers from the company they have mentored with. The high school will accommodate at least 400 students, which will complement the needs of San Pedro’s growing population.

> Less Traffic Congestion in Town: As it is, rush hour traffic during the mornings, midday and afternoon are compounded with students going to and from school. Because the town grew around the school compound, congestion was inevitable with the huge growth of the school’s student body. There are no drop-off points at the school and daily commutes to school prove to test everybody’s patience when traffic thickens; once the school moves, traffic congestion should lessen. Ft. Montemayor explained that the new school campus will have various entrances and exits, plus drop-off points to address congestion issues and ease traffic bottleneck points.

rc school relocation
Traffic congestion is a big issue during times when the school children commute to and from school

> The New Buildings Would be Excellent Hurricane Shelters: Father stated that the new school buildings would be built to standards of hurricane shelters which would provide a great place of refuge for those without homes and buildings that are hurricane proof.

Why is the Relocation a Bad Thing?

> New Location is Too Far: The new site for the RC School is approximately 1.6 miles from the downtown school. One of the most common complaints we have heard so far is “How will parents with no transpiration take their children to school that is farther away?” This distance will create commuting issues to all parents and students of the RC School. Ft. Montemayor indicated that the school will be working in providing public transportation for the students to and from school, but this creates other issues of acquiring school busses and obtaining permits for the vehicles.

Why Is the Relocation of RC School A Good and Bad Thing! 1
The distance between the current school property in town to the new location is about 1.6 miles
rc school relocation
The new school campus location is adjacent to Caribbean Chicken at the entrance of the Escalente Subdivision

> What Will the New Developer Build: The biggest questions have been:
“Who is the developer that is purchasing the RC School property?”
“What will be constructed on the property?”
“Will the developer take into consideration the needs of the town with the new construction?”

What we have heard so far is that the developer will construct a mall-like retail business that will cater to tourism, will provide parking for the town and open up a new street to connect Middle Street to Coconut Dive and Tarpon Street. But none of these can be confirmed, only time will tell what the developer has planned.

> Nostalgia of old town charm gone: The RC School was established since the 1930’s and it has become a symbol of historic importance for the island. Residents fear that any new construction in town will take away from the island charm, something that has already been lost significantly with the surge in construction, tourism and development the island is undergoing. Why couldn’t the church keep the property while also moving the school and use the old site for other useful purposes? (History of San Pedro Roman Catholic School)

> Why didn’t the Town Council Buy the Property? Mayor Wally Nuñez indicated that the Church had told them about their interest to sell, and had discussed that the property would be great if maybe government can acquire it for the different GOB offices, but nothing came out of those discussions. If there is a new street to be opened, the new developers would need to give up some of their prime real estate for it to happen. The question is “Will it ever happen?”

The fact is that the RC Church has accepted the donation of the new property south of town, is in talks with a developer to sell the prime property where the school is currently located and will use the real estate earnings to start construction of the new school campus. More funding has been allocated for the construction of the new school and the Church is looking for more resources to fully develop the new school and its amenities. This relocation will have tremendous effects for residents of Ambergris Caye and we only hope that proper planning is done under professional guidance and that any future business development in the town will take the island’s need into consideration.

2 Responses

  1. It is sad to see it go, but it is not safe for the kids anymore, especially those walking in that midday traffic. It is wonderful that we do have fond memories and these are for each individual to keep. I hope something beautiful and green happens there. The center of town lacks greenery and nature. Maybe the government should buy it and develop it a park and plant beautiful trees and flowers. Thank you Dorian.

  2. A mall. Was someone simply looking at the $$$ in this? We dont need a mall any more than we need more golf carts. Our island charm is WHY people come. People love the chance to walk down town, shop, talk and stop to eat, if I wanted a mall, Id stay in the U.S. or go to Playa and walk thru a very clean and well set up 5th Ave. will this “ mall” be set up like local vendor stalls? Will this “ mall” have chain type stores forcing the local based stores out? OR will the local people refuse to pay for expensive “mall” space and stay where they are leaving the new “ mall” spots empty like most malls in the U.S are these days. I understand some change is enevitable , but our infrastructure can barely handle the electricity demand and water demand. We are having a hard time keeping the down town streets clean, Noone is looking the BIG picture here, except a developer. Im disapointed and I live here. Not well thought out.

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