Highlights — 18 September 2019 — by Rowland A. Parks
Present and former Belize City mayors share the stage for opening new City Hall building

BELIZE CITY, Fri. Sept. 13, 2019– Opening ceremonies were held this evening for the refurbished City Hall building on which work had started during the United Democratic Party term of Mayor Darrell Bradley, and which has been completed under the stewardship of People’s United Party mayor, Bernard Wagner.

The highlight of the opening ceremony, therefore, was the presence of the former and present Belize City mayors sharing the stage for the opening of the multimillion-dollar building, located on Regent Street, at the foot of the Swing Bridge that will serve as the City Council’s City Hall.

The ceremony got underway following the singing of the National Anthem by Jackie Castillo and welcome remarks by the Belize City Council’s senior public relations officer, Erin Garnett, who said that the new building depicts the quality of service the City Council hopes to provide for the residents of Belize City.

Garnett said that the building was a gift to the entire city and a symbol of the council’s mantra that “we remain all about the people.”

President of the Senate and former Belize City Mayor, Darrell Bradley, began his remarks by paying homage to Mayor Bernard Wagner for allowing him to share the stage for the occasion.

Bradley said that he wanted to acknowledge the mayor for the bold step.

Bradley went on to say that on the first day that he became mayor and went into the building, he was shocked at its condition. The former Belize City mayor said that when he took a tour of the building, the bathrooms were so filthy that he personally would not use it.

“And if I would not use it as Mayor, it was a disgrace that I would subject staff to use it,” Bradley explained.

Bradley said that the City Council workers deserve a place of work that they can call home.

“Now we have a brand new City Hall for the benefit of not the Mayor, not the councilors, not only the staff, but all of our residents, and that is a celebration for all of us this evening to recognize that it is because of every single person in this room; private sector and public sector, central government and local government, partners hand-in-hand, former mayor and current mayor, celebrating a joy for the people that we represent,” he said.

Bradley also explained that when the project was first conceived, the process took a year and a half going back-and-forth with papers and ledgers with the banker at Heritage Bank, which financed the renovation of what was known as the City Center.

In his remarks, Mayor Wagner acknowledged the attendance of the Minister of Local Government, Dr. Carla Barnett, who was among a long list of special, invited guests, which also included the manager of Heritage Bank, Senator Steve Duncan.

Mayor Wagner also acknowledged the work done by City Administrator Stephanie Garbutt, “who has been key to executing the day-to-day logistics and ensuring that our transition to the new City Hall was as smooth as possible.”

“Our New City Hall will make things a lot easier for everyone. All of our administrative and service delivery offices are now under one roof. Over 26 thousand square feet of space is the focal point of the building,” Mayor Wagner said.

   Mayor Wagner added, “It has been built to accommodate growth for the next ten to fifteen years and was made possible by a commercial loan of a principal of approximately 4.8 million dollars negotiated with Heritage Bank in late 2017 by our previous Mayor Bradley and his council. This current council has been tasked to service that debt and we continue to repay at the tune of approximately $71,000 per month.”

Mayor Wagner said that the new building is a welcoming space for Belize City residents and staff, and he urged his Belize City Council staff to be welcoming to city residents, to be helpful and respectful to them, and most of all, to be professional in executing their daily duties.

The old City Hall, near St. Mary’s, is also the property of the City Council, but it is not yet known for what purpose they will use the building.

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