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Do We Care?

On the corner of Pescador Drive and Ambergris Street, a building construction which uses virtually all of the lot space leaving none for parking, is underway.  I hear that it will be the offices of a Credit Union.  On the corner of Barrier Reef Drive and Black Coral Street across from Coral Beach Hotel, the last bit of space under that residence/business is being enclosed, I assume with the consent of the Ambergris Caye Local Building Authority.  

It still amazes me that no one seems to care about how wrong and shortsighted this is.  It ignores the glaring problem of lack of parking space in this area and the exponential traffic congestion that it causes.  It surprises me that no one even bothers to at least complain that this adds to the deterioration of the business environment of this important and special tourist destination.
I have been saying for the last ten years that when North Ambergris Caye develops in a planned and orderly manner, San Pedro Town will lose most of its business and a lot of its people to it because of lack of planning.  If a new town with adequate spaces for residence, commerce, sports, schools, hospitals, police, government and other essential facilities is planned properly about equidistance from the bridge north to Robles Point there will be no reason for most of the people living in North Ambergris Caye, ten years from now, to come to the old San Pedro Town.  

Imagine a North Ambergris with a good all weather road running north to south as far as Robles Point, the airport at Basil Jones, a commercial marina somewhere on the west side of the island that brings building material and goods from Corozal rather than Belize City.  Imagine an area with electricity, cable, telephone, water and sewer, lots of parking space and abundance of green areas.  It would be so easy and pleasant to do everything that one needs to do on this planned community that the only reason that one may want to come to San Pedro core would be for curiosity or to visit family and friend for a few hours.  

It does not have to be that way.  We can have it all if we do today what is right.  We need to stop issuing permits to buildings that do not provide adequate parking.  We need to insist that they leave the proper setbacks.  We need to stop the huge freezer truck that parks, every Saturday morning, on the wrong side of Pelican Street blocking traffic for five minutes?  In fact, we should not allow these huge trucks to come to the island overwhelming our narrow streets?  

We proclaim that we understand that our economy is totally dependent on tourism for year round job creation, yet some of our actions say differently.  Our beaches are hugely important to our guests because they spend a lot of their time on it enjoying all that it offers.  So it is logical to assume that we as a government and as business people would make it a priority that it is always clean, safe and unobstructed for our guests and residents.  Amazingly, this is not done.

 I walk the beach from my house just north of Royal Palm Resort to Fidos Restaurant on a regular basis.  As I start my walk I see on the beach big chunks of an old concrete building with dangerous rusted rebar sticking out of them that someone deliberately dumped in front of the resort.  I see an area further north that on high tide is barely passable.  About half way of my walk going north, I see a seawall that was not properly built so it loses sand underneath it when there are rough seas.  Instead of replacing the lost sand with more sand someone replaces it with garbage.  Therefore this stretch of beach is littered with garbage most of the time.  Some of the beaches are clean and kept in their natural state but most of them are littered with unplanned seawalls that depict chaos and an erroneous approach to what should be important for our tourism product.

My point today is that we are experiencing tough economic time because of lack of new investment but we are making this situation worst by continuing to do things that have huge negative impacts to our tourism product.  If we really want to, we can correct these problems today with little financial investment and in doing so improve our tourism product in a drastic way.  I believe that we do not have a choice.  We either decide to fix these problems today or accept that we are going to continue to lose tourist to other areas that make the effort to provide what they are looking for.  

/s/ Fidel Ancona

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