General — 24 January 2014 — by Kareem Clarke
Seashore Drive Park will remain as a public space: Hon. “Santi” Castillo

Last week, we reported on a land dispute which had been brewing between CITCO and the Lands Department over a portion of Buttonwood Bay Park, which is situated on Seashore Drive in the Caribbean Shores area of Belize City.

Well, according to the current Caribbean Shores area representative, Hon. Santiago Castillo, that disagreement has been quashed through his intervention.

The clash primarily involved the UDP Mayor of Belize City, Darrell Bradley, and an allegedly well-connected UDP private citizen – Giovanni Blease.

The UDP Mayor asserted that the prime seafront property, also known as parcel # 3820, should remain as a public park, while Blease was in the process of acquiring half of the parcel for private use.

Mayor Bradley – who has a particular political interest in the Caribbean Shores constituency – swore that he would do everything in his power to ensure that the piece of land stays in the hands of the Government – and by extension, the public.

However, it seems that the Mayor won’t have to spend any more time exerting his energies on the preservation of this park.

Yesterday, at the sitting of the House of Representatives in Belmopan, Castillo explained that he has reached an agreement with the aspiring landowner. He said that Blease will be compensated either financially or with a different property elsewhere.

Castillo stated: “I have been fighting behind closed doors to ensure that the best thing was done for everyone. I brought it up to Cabinet a few weeks ago, and I’ve been in touch with the residents from the very beginning – namely Damien Goff, Sylvia Cattouse, Ann-Marie Williams, Johnny Valdez, and also with Giovanni Blease. I brought the situation to Cabinet, and the Prime Minister, after discussing it, said to me, ‘Santi, if you can get me signatures from the area residents, I’ll gladly revisit it and see how we can have a better solution.’

“So, I went back to the residents. They got their [150] petitions to me [this] Monday. I brought it to Cabinet [on] Tuesday, and sure enough the PM told the Deputy Prime Minister to find another piece of land for Giovanni Blease or compensate him, but in fact, the land would remain as a park.”

A planned hearing which was scheduled for next Wednesday, January 29, to address the issue of the caution that was placed by the City Council on the property is presumably off the table, and it also means City Hall can now proceed with its development plans for the area.

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