Progress but concerns at Battlefield Park

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The Battlefield Park in downtown Belize City has been given a significant renovation by the Belize City Council. We discussed it with City Councilor responsible for Parks, Kevin Singh.

Kevin Singh – Councilor:

vlcsnap-2013-08-21-08h16m29s36The Park is supposed to be given to us, the City Council,  by the 28th of this monthThe final touches that we’re putting in is a sprinkler that is going to be set up.  Water is going to come up.  It’s going to be timed.  It won’t run all day. Every hour water it shoots up and water is going to come out. I was asking if we could put several more benches, because as you can see it’s a lot of space, and we need to put more benches. We’re getting dirt bins made, so that we can put them out, and a few railings to go around, and that’s about it.

 

Mr Singh says the homeless problem, that has hurt previous attempts at renovation, seems to have been settled with the appointment of a park ranger.

Kevin Singh – Councilor:

Well, so far as you can see they are not here. What we have done is that we got a Park Warden and acts as a security, and he has done a great job. He talks to them and some of them don’t like the situation, and one of them was really behaving rudely.  He’s just trying to do his job to keep them out. I think they will understand.  I tell them, the park is for them but you need to be clean.  You can’t come in with five or six bags and get the place dirty.  We don’t stop them from coming in.

This guy works from 8 in the morning until 5, then he comes back and he tries his best.  I think we need to get more that one, so that we could do a shift

According to Kevin Singh, Belizeans should come out and enjoy the newly renovated structure.

Kevin Singh – Councilor:

I was out here two days ago and the people are utilizing the park.  People are sitting in it and enjoying the space.

We had ICB who adopted the Park from us several years ago.  They came in, and did a wonderful job, painting and putting their logos, but after that year they didn’t want to come back because it was an eyesore, the homeless keep sleeping there, they do this, they do that. There’s still a lot of people who do not know what is happening downtown, ‘cause they don’t come in the Park. 

We used to have a bathroom there.  So we used to have to come and check the bathroom, and you will see them do ridiculous things in this Park.  

We have a lot of cement, and we tried to put cement because it’s better to maintain.  We tried to bring back some green and as you can see the little flowers are coming up. We have big trees,  but they’re  not really blooming yet.  We’ll go back to normal in a while, and then we can all enjoy it.

At the start of its renovations, the council had worked out a deal with the Albert Street and Downtown Taxi Unions to alleviate their concerns about spacing and parking. Now, according to Albert Cattouse, the Council appears to have reduced their already limited space in the area.

Albert Cattouse – Taxi Driver:

vlcsnap-2013-08-21-08h46m09s204I am not happy about it, and other drivers out here are not happy.  From what we understand we would have gotten ten spots. So far they have marked the park and we got 9.  Now they are taking away four spots from us and only want to give us five so I am very unhappy about it.  I talked to Councilor Singh this morning and he told me that I have to deal with the Traffic Department, that the City Council have nothing to do with it.

 

Albert Robinson told PLUS News that he has been unable to speak with the Mayor, Darrell Bradley, about the issue and says certain promises were made by City Hall that the drivers are holding them to.

Albert Robinson – Taxi Driver:

vlcsnap-2013-08-21-08h53m01s223We’ll be more satisfied if we could get the amount of parking that we used to get before.  We can’t do any better than what is being done right now, but not to tell us that you gave us nine spots, and you will take away four from us again.  I don’t understand it.  It’s complicated.  So we need to hear from the Mayor.  We need to hear from the City Manager.  We need to hear from the Traffic Department, because I am a member, as far as I am concerned, I’m a part of the Belize City Council Traffic Advisory Board. 

The Mayor said on television that he met with the Traffic Advisory Board, and the whole thing was set up because of a meeting with the Traffic Advisory Board and those other people that were concerned.  I am a part of the traffic Advisory Board and about three meetings were called.  The lady always calls me back and says when the meeting is to be held, and [she] told me that the meeting is postponed.  This happened for about three times, because of somebody who died or for somebody who’s sick.  That’s the up and down.

Albert Cattouse says he just wants to know what is going on, denying that the unions are trying to strong-arm the Council for more space.

Albert Cattouse – Taxi Driver:

vlcsnap-2013-08-21-08h53m14s100I want to know what is the real deal.  Just come out plain and straight.  I will tell you what I’ve seen, what I heard about Mr Elrington, when he first got elected.  He wanted to block this whole area because it’s a busy section.  He told me personally.  He took it to the House and he couldn’t get the votes on it, or else this would have been [done] a long time ago (I wasn’t here when they first got in) that no cars were going to come up here on Albert Street to a certain distance.  It would just be for pedestrians, just people and shops.   So that’s what I am concerned about, because so much things is out there.  You don’t know if you’re going to come, you’re going to go. 

They said we were going to get ten spots.  That was promised.  I was told that by the President, that they promised him ten spots.   When I came out here, I see they’ve got nine  spots.  So I have to be concerned.  Even the President is concerned because he doesn’t know what they’re trying to do with us.

Councilor Singh did not address the issue when we spoke with him on Tuesday.

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