For the past two weeks, we have been following the story concerning Seashore Drive Park in the Caribbean Shores area of Belize City, which until recently had been labeled as “Ground Zero” in a land dispute between the current City Council and Giovanni Blease – a landowner who allegedly has UDP connections.
Last Wednesday, during a break from the Special Sitting of the House of Representatives, the current Caribbean Shores area representative, Hon. Santiago Castillo, had commented that he (Castillo) “brought it [the issue] to Cabinet on Tuesday [January 21st],” and that “the PM told the Deputy Prime Minister to find another piece of land for Giovanni Blease or compensate him [for the said parcel].”
Today, Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley said that he had heard that Castillo had taken the matter to Cabinet, and although he was pleased that the land would be kept as a public park, he is also concerned about the notion that Blease would now be compensated for the plot of land.
Bradley stated, “According to our information, this person has absolutely no interest in this property, so there should be no interest in any kind of compensation because he [Blease] cannot show a title or a lease [for the property]. Our indications are, from the Lands Department, that all he did was to write in to say that he was interested in applying for this land.”
Bradley then questioned, “On what basis would you give compensation to somebody who just writes in?”
The Mayor mentioned that he just wants to ensure that what transpires here is in accordance with what the public mandate for the city is – that the park remains for the public good. He said, “I also heard [something] in relation to compensation, and that would be wrong if this person gets any kind of compensation for not having any interest. I don’t know what goes on in the Lands Department, but looking at it from an outsider’s perspective, not having any information in there – how can you be compensated for something that you just write in and say, ‘well I want to apply for this land’ – that doesn’t give you any proprietary interest in the property!”
Bradley – who said that his bid for the Caribbean Shores constituency is still up for consideration – had been agitating for the parcel of land to remain as a public park, and, up to the end of last December, had even installed playground equipment with the assistance of area residents, to occupy the parcel, which had been previously long unused.
The dispute between the Council and Blease supposedly came to an end early last week when area representative, Hon. Santiago “Santino” Castillo, made the announcement that the land would indeed remain as a park.