Burrell Boom residents want to own Castleton Race Track. Castleton Race Track is one of the most important sporting venues in the Belize River Valley and home to horse racing meets during Easter and Boxing Day. But what many may not know is that the village is embroiled in a dispute with the Lands Department and the men who lease the property. The track is located on 75.7 acres of land in the village which was leased to two men, Gilly Canton and Robert Lightburn on behalf of the National Horse Racing Association in 2001. But dating back to 1970, the chairs of the village council have been trying unsuccessfully to acquire the land for the benefit of the village. Former village chairman Derrick Stuart addressed the BGYEA press conference today and outlined the genesis of the dispute.
Ordinary Belizeans can walk into the Lands Department and pick up other people private documents. You might say that’s a crucial allegation, but I can say that to you because I have a document that doesn’t belong to me. But it belongs to the Horse Race Committee of which is an interest to the community at Burrell Boom. How many of us often can go to Burrell Boom Racetrack, or Horse Race event and so on, and enjoy this nice event? Annual event. Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, or Boxing Day, or September Celebrations, everything. But what the public don’t know is that the Village Councils have been at Burrell Boom since 1970, have been applying for that parcel of land to be under the Burrell Boom Village Council, and you are always disallowed to get this parcel of land.
According to Stuart, they have been unable to reach agreement with the lease holders:
This parcel of land was given to Mr Gilly Canton and Mr Robert Lightburn, entrusted to them for the National Horse Racing Association. So this parcel of land is 75,7 acres of land, and they have this parcel of land on lease for $227 per year. April 20, 2001, the date we were sworn in, was the day this document was granted. Our Village Council, when I was Chairperson, we came to a conclusion that we would sign a petition in our community.
Stuart says the village will not rest until the land is in their hands:
Our Village Council sat with the Association, asking them for us to at least co-own this document, meaning it is our property. We have a right to it. Unfortunately, we’re denied this.
Burrell Boom residents say they intend to be a part of February 26’s BGYEA demonstration in Belmopan.