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Monday, April 12, 2021
Home Features $15 million Marine Parade Boulevard to be inaugurated

$15 million Marine Parade Boulevard to be inaugurated

The project, which, according to BCC officials, costs $15 million, began a year ago, and there is yet another phase to be undertaken.

The BCC, through the Commissioner of Works, councilor Marshall Nunez, oversees the project, while Johnson International executes it, under the guidance of Paul MacLean, the company?s project manager.

Froylan Alvarado, the BCC?s Senior Town Planner, told Amandala that the Ministry of Finance, under the Office of the Prime Minister, would decide how the 15 acres of land, reclaimed under the project, would be used. The MOF would also invite investors to help develop the area, he added.

Over 100 people are directly involved with the project, BCC officials said. Two of the leading players are Danny Madrid, J.P., Deputy Mayor, in charge of the city?s traffic, enforcement, security, special constables, ambulance and fire service, and city engineer Rick Maga?a.

Madrid told us that, ?About a few years ago, when the tourist industry got started out, we started out here at the Memorial Park, and it was O.K. We could have handled it, but when it started really booming and we had 70 buses, 60 buses at a time?driving through Handyside Street, driving through Daly Street at 8 o?clock in the morning, and in the evening at 3:30, coming back on North Front Street?you can imagine the problems that we had trying to control the traffic.?

Complaints from the driving public and from business people were numerous, the Deputy Mayor explained:

?The public understandably is complaining, because they will get to work late, in the evening, people who are delivering goods cannot deliver the goods, because there are so many buses going slow, because they are explaining [things to tourists], showing [them] the City. So we decided it was time to do something about it.?

He said that this is why GOB and the BCC decided to move ahead with the project. Mr. Madrid said that while the contractors were dredging the area, four authentic cannons were found.

?They do have a history,? Madrid commented.

The cannons, he said, are similar the ones at St. George?s Caye and at the nearby Memorial Park. He estimates that the cast iron artifacts are roughly 200 years old. A historian we spoke with later explained that the area had once been used as a fort.

The four cannons have been placed as prominent landmarks on the boulevard. One is located near a 20-vehicle bus bay, which sits along the seaside, just in front of Memorial Park. Two are located on the Javier Berbey Garcia Roundabout, and a third is located at the end of the Marine Parade Boulevard where it meets Eve Street.

Many have lauded the project as Belize?s newest and most state-of-the-art boulevard that has transformed the face of the Old Capital, but for some residents of the area the development means that they have to give up their much-valued sea breeze, though they will see their real estate value rise.

What Belizeans can look forward to in Phase 2 of the project is the development of a business village on the 15 acres of reclaimed land, we were further told. However, there is no telling how soon Phase 2 can proceed, since the new land has to ?set? before the planned developments can take place.

The business village may be used to house banks, law offices, medical facilities, and facilities that tourists would need, said Madrid.

In addition to the business zone, another section of the project still underway is a 15-vehicle bus bay to be constructed in front of the Radisson Fort George Hotel, also at the seaside. The contractors are now widening the street to be able to accommodate the bus bay.

As to the benefits of the multi-million-dollar project that are already accruing to Belizeans, Deputy Mayor Madrid told us, ?Already, Belizeans are fishing in area and sitting along the seaside with their family, enjoying the cool breeze.?

Notably, Belizeans have, for the most part, reacted well to the new development, appreciating it as a sign of forward development in the country.

City engineer, Rick Maga?a, who has been involved with the project from its inception, told us that the project has been a challenging one.

While most of the materials used for the project came from inside our borders, the steel had to be imported, and this, at times, caused significant delays in the project.

He also said, ?Because of the currents and tides in the sea, some areas on sea bed are softer than other areas. We would fill an area and when we come back [to continue the work], that area would have been washed away.?

He described how the reclamation work was done:

?The area that we had to reclaim, we had to first build that containment berm, which goes all along the perimeter, out by the sea wall. We had to go as deep as 8 feet in some areas? but we had to continue adding material and compacting the berm to a compaction of 95%, which is to a very high standard?internationally, American standard, UK standard??

?Most of the materials came from Rockville – the Belize Aggregates Quarry, some from other private companies that use river gravel,? he informed.

Maga?a said there would be no need to worry about any sinking lands or any problems with the sea wall collapsing.

The outskirts of the berm have been lined with boulders, some weighing up to 4,000 pounds, to break the pressure of the waves coming in and to protect the sea wall, Maga?a explained.

Other elements of the project include reinforced drains, two roundabouts, spacious sidewalks and a median, which awaits some attractive landscaping.

?Anybody who is interested can write into the Council. Address [the letter] to the mayor, and we will take it from there?? the City Engineer said.

Before concluding his remarks to our newspaper, he pointed out the state of the art lighting?no wires dangling?that lines the boulevard.

?This is the way we would like to see our city, more aesthetically pleasing?? he commented. ?I appeal to all Belizeans to help preserve it, not vandalize it. Keep it for generations to come??

While the BCC is responsible for maintaining the new development, it won?t earn any direct revenues from it, the Deputy Mayor told us. However, he expressed optimism that the BCC would get the funds needed to ensure its upkeep.

Their emphasis, though, was on how the new boulevard would ease the traffic headaches of those who drive downtown. The Deputy Mayor said he strongly urges people to make use of the new avenue.

Along with the new development have come some changes in the flow of traffic in that part of town. Maga?a summarized them to us as follows:

Craig Street is only two-way from the Marine Parade Boulevard to Daly Sreet. It is one-way from Daly to Barrack Road. From Barrack Road, you cannot enter into Craig Sreet.

Eve Street has been changed to one-way, from Barrack Road to Queen Street.

Gabourel Lane, from its junction with Gaol Lane to North Front Street, is one-way only.

North Park Street is no longer two-way, but one-way; South Park Street remains two-way.

The area from North Front Street to Fort Street., through the Belize Tourism Village, is now one-way all the way up to North Park Street.

The Marine Parade Boulevard, from North Park Street to Eve Street/Barrack Road, is a two-way boulevard.

Gaol Lane one-way only, and comes out to Marine Parade Boulevard.

If you are driving off Eve Street to Gaol Lane, you can take a right into Gabourel Lane or continue into Marine Parade Boulevard.

(ASST. EDITOR NOTE: There has been much public debate about the previously proposed name for the boulevard ?the Javier Berbey Garcia Boulevard. The late Mr. Garcia, who, according to our reports, originated from Panama, has was prominently involved in the Vista Del Mar, the Bella Vista and the Belama projects.

While some Belizeans have expressed their gratitude for Mr. Garcia?s work in the country, many have argued that the boulevard should be named after a Belize-born hero. BCC officials told us on Friday that the boulevard would not be named after Mr. Garcia, as had been previously proposed, after all.

A suggestion to the BCC: Perhaps nominations could be invited from Belizeans, so that they can help select the name for the boulevard?one that is more meaningful than Marine Parade Boulevard and less controversial than the Javier Berbey Garcia Boulevard. That name could be announced when the boulevard is formally inaugurated in October.)

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