Headline — 24 October 2018 — by Rowland A. Parks
DOE “brakes” Diab’s restaurant project

Developer Haisam Diab says the project began under former mayor Darrell Bradley, who says “not so!”

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Oct. 22, 2018– The Belize City Council found itself having to respond over the weekend to media queries about a concrete structure measuring 45 by 104 feet that is being constructed on Sandlighters Promenade on Marine Parade. Media inquiries focused on who was building the structure and for what purpose and what was the property arrangement.

The Belize City Council’s newly appointed communications manager, Tamara Minto, explained over the weekend, “The property in question on Marine Parade, which was obtained and tabled by the former council, has since been revived and deemed viable by our present City Council.”

She further stated, “With approved plans, we have entered into a lease agreement with an investor to restore and improve the aesthetics of the immediate area. An area which was once ominous with poor lighting and nominal community activity, will now be uplifted with a family-oriented restaurant. The planned restaurant will provide a child-friendly recreational playground, a well-lit and safe facility for the area, along with ample parking to alleviate traffic congestion.

“Revitalizing this area aligns with our Council’s vision to not only create economic growth and employment, but also maximize on our waterfront capabilities, similar to other countries in the region. We anticipate, between all the necessary licenses, along with the lease agreement, to generate an annual revenue stream for the City. In addition, creating (18) immediate jobs and numerous employment during the construction phase.

“Upon completion, the community can look forward to a place where their children and loved ones can safely enjoy.”

That development plan, however, has generated a good bit of controversy for the present City Council of Mayor Bernard Wagner, and today, it was learned that the work on the project has grounded to a sudden stop, because of a stop order that has been issued by the Department of the Environment on October 17.

While the Belize City Council’s new communications manager had failed to specifically identify who the developer of the project is, the developer came forward today in a press briefing.

The developer behind the project is Haisam Diab, who appeared in an off-camera press briefing along with attorney Ashanti Arthurs-Martin.

Diab said today that the project is something that got started under the previous United Democratic Party council of Mayor Darrell Bradley.

Diab said that he had met with Mayor Darrell Bradley, Councilor Theus and Jose Bradley.

“It was a win win situation for everybody,” Diab said.

The plan was for a structure that cost $300,000 and the property would be leased for 13 years.  “After 13 years the building goes back to the council. They own the building. We have no intention of purchasing the property,” Diab stated.

Diab explained that work has stopped on the project because of the DOE stop order, which was issued because the DOE has concerns about the facility’s garbage disposal, grease trap and sewage disposal.

Diab said that he told the DOE that they had been waiting for someone to return to the country to complete the plan. When the person returned, Diab said he returned to the DOE and explained to them that they had everything in place.

“Right now we are waiting for the DOE,” Diab said.

The former mayor, Darrell Bradley, however, has denied any knowledge of the project, and said that his council would never have undertaken such a project without public consultation.

Additionally, more controversy was spawned by the project, when Joe Bradley, the father of Darrell Bradley, acknowledged on his Fus Ting Da Mawning talk show that he knew about the project from when his son was mayor of Belize City.

Diab said that he is building on the land and not on the sea, and that he did not realize that such a small project would require Department of the Environment clearance.

Diab stressed that they would not be applying for any kind of liquor license. “All we want is a place where people can take their kids and have a good time,” he said.

Arthurs-Martin explained the conditions of the lease agreement between the City Council and Ekatrina Diab, who is Haisam’s wife.

The lease is for 13 years and the City Council has the option to terminate the lease anytime during the 13 years with a two-month notice to the tenant. The balance of the rent would have to be returned to the lessee.

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Deshawn Swasey

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