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Apr 22, 2015

CitCo Launches New Initiatives at B.T.L. Park

The Belize City Council today launched several new initiatives at the newly refurbished B.T.L. Park on Princess Margaret Drive. Among the many features added to the infrastructure were fourteen display panels that would hold a public exhibition on historic events of the area. News Five’s Duane Moody attended the launch and has this report.


Duane Moody, Reporting

The site where the B.T.L. Park is presently located was officially declared a public park in 1875.  Prior to that, the area—which was once extended through to the Ramada Belize City Princess—would have been used as an airstrip, training ground for the military, as well as a racecourse. With the creation of Princess Margaret Drive and several privatizations in the area, in 1997, the open space was dubbed the B.T.L. Park. But in the past three years, the park has been transformed by the City Council. Today, the Belize City Council, in collaboration with the Belize Tourism Board, the National Institute of Culture and History and CARILED, launched a public exhibition with fourteen panel displays to add to the experience for visitors of the park.


Darrell Bradley

Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor

“I knew then that it was an exciting journey to develop a space that is more than just a plot of land. So that when you come to this space, we want it to be an experience in community, a mini city as you will. And so after the first major renovation and the launch last Valentine’s Day, we are keeping focus, thinking about ways in which we can enhance the space. So that in partnership with the National Institute of Culture and History specifically the liaison with Mister Encalada who is a former classmate of mine and Mister Cocom, we brought together this idea of telling a story of what went on in this place so that members of this community, particularly our young people can experience this in a new and enlightening way. One of the things that we really discovered, a lot of information about was the landing of Charles Lindbergh and that being a very pivotal point in gaining the settlement then of Belize international recognition.”


NICH, through the Institute of Social and Cultural Research, was even more excited as it means that the history of Belize is made more accessible to students, teachers, tour guides, tourists and those who access the park. According to Rolando Cocom, it allows for Belizeans to appreciate the struggles of the past.


Rolando Cocom

Rolando Cocom, Senior Research and Education Officer, ISCR

“We consider the exhibit a success in the larger aim to document and promote the history of our communities, municipalities and our nation. Some may recall that in 2013, we launched a book entitled a walk through Old Belize which has become a key resource to understanding the history of Belize City. Most recently, in March of this year, we launched A Walk through El Cayo, which documents the historical landmarks in San Ignacio and Santa Elena. And we plan to continue this same initiative throughout the nation. Today’s exhibit is arranged in several themes which documents the origins and transformations of what we now know as the B.T.L. Park, previously known as the Barracks or the Barracks Green. Through the various themes, the exhibit describes the multiple functions of the park as a training and sporting ground, air-strip, horse race track, recreational space and public beach.”


Darrell Bradley

“It will tell the story of this space and all the people who made it meaningful over the years. Not just Charles Lindbergh, but the many Belizeans and the many people in our history who soldiered here and made this a place that was very important to the settlement of Belize, to Belize Town and then now to Belize City. So that these fourteen panels will tell a story so that young people, citizens, tourists can walk around and they can experience what went on here in real time.”


But since the soft launch of the park by the city council earlier this year, there have been many other features added to the park, says Mayor Darrell Bradley.


Darrell Bradley

“The historic tour of the B.T.L. Park is really the critical aspect of it—and you see two of the panels behind me and you see a picture of Charles Lindbergh; you see a full rendition of the Spirit of St. Louis which is behind me and made to be a symbolic replica to signify that important historic event.  There are others things that we are launching today which comes as a result of several focus groups that we have had and comments that we have had with people who engage with the space. One of the things that people have commented about is the fact that during the day, it is very hot. We have very many schools that have exercise classes here; I know the Horizon and other schools come here periodically. During child stimulation month, a lot of activities were held here. So one of the things that we are doing, you will note that we have opened up six palapas near the beach area to give people shade during the day so that it is not only an evening or night activity for the benefit of members of our community. We also planted seven flamboyant trees and we are also going to symbolically plant a mahogany tree in this park, which has been donated by the Audubon Society because we are trying to make the park a learning environment.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

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