During my perusal of the online edition of your publication, I came across the feature article dated 29 June 2016, entitled “When will Belizeans/New Yorkers take a stand?” by Norman Fairweather.
With your permission, kindly permit me to respond and put on record a clarification of what appears to be a misinterpretation and misconception of the Belize City Council’s (BCC) delegation’s visit to New York in June. Let the record show that the BCC’s delegation’s visit was on invitation via retired U.S. Army Lt. Gerard Placide; with the primary focus of networking and relationship capacity building in the areas of municipality management, religious outreach and possible investors.
It is a fact that on the itinerary for the BCC’s delegation there was a meeting with Belizean-Americans inclusive of members of the Belize International Solidarity Movement (BISM) on June 13th, 2016. It was the only scheduled meeting with them. The meeting was predominantly an open forum designed to address the needs and concerns of the individuals present; hence the direction the discussion took and the matters discussed were those that the audience found most important.
The insinuation that the members of the BCC’s delegation were intentionally being “evasive” is borderline preposterous. As was previously stated, the BCC delegation had a very tight schedule and unfortunately could not meet with the members of BISM in the short visit in the fashion they had desired.
With respect to your commentary pertaining the Yarborough area, the BCC is more than pleased to inform the general public that we have been in consultation with the IDB in an effort to develop that area of the city. The plans so far are to develop and reclaim the valuable but neglected seafront which in turn will provide economic opportunities via tourism. The beneficiaries and stakeholders are those who live in the entire immediate area or surroundings. Furthermore, some concerns presented at the meeting can be better addressed by Central Government and not the BCC as they are national issues and a clear distinction was made between the roles and responsibilities of the BCC, its councilors and those of Central Government. On that same note, the delegation provided contact information at the meeting and is still available via those contacts to clear up any lingering ambiguity.
By and large, all meetings can be considered favorable and successful as the delegation not only returned with a wealth of suggestions, concerns, and queries but met with two boroughs: Brooklyn and Bronx. Both of whom are quite interested in Belize City. As a matter of fact, the executive director of the Bronx not only expressed interest but visited the City Hall in return and delivered loaded presentations. She enjoyed her stay and plans to return.
In closing, attention must be given to the article’s questioning of the role of Chaplain Howell Longsworth in the delegation. The answer to this is amazingly straightforward; the Chaplain is simply better equipped to network in the religious sector. The assumption that investment and/or partnerships are being channeled through the Chaplain is excessively inexact.
Bernard Q. A. Pitts, Jr. JP
MIS, Youth & Sports, Traffic
Belize City Council
(Ed, NOTE: The respectful nature of Mr. Pitts’ letter made it difficult for us to omit it on the grounds that it is UDP material. We are confident, also, that Norman Fairweather will welcome a response to his discourse, and is eminently qualified to deal with the criticisms by Mr. Pitts.)