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Dec 11, 2018

What’s the Future of Pier One Bar?

Pier One Bar is under the radar once more; the bar is located within the B.T.L. Park, a popular venue for recreation by families. For some time, we have reported on recurring violent incidents at the bar. Over the weekend a Bagdad Street resident was murdered inside the hangout as patrons socialized. Residents in the neighbourhood have been clamouring to close the bar, but Belize City Mayor Bernard Wagner, who inherited the problem, says it is not that simple because external forces conspire to keep it open. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Bernard Wagner, Belize City Mayor

“We can’t as a responsible city council continue to have our residents, our women and children, feel unsafe in a park that was built with the understanding that it would be used for recreational purposes.”

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

A bar within a recreational, safe space for families and children is a clear conflict. It goes against the Sustainable and Child Friendly Municipality Initiative, introduced back in 2014, to ensure that children feel safe, are provided with the amenities they need, and are healthy and well-informed.  In March 2015, the Old Capital was declared a Child Friendly Municipality, but fast track to 2018, the Belize City Council says that its attorney is looking at the contract to determine the future of Pier One at the B.T.L. Park in Belize City.

 

Bernard Wagner

Bernard Wagner

“Nowhere in the Caribbean or in the world, you would have municipalities sanctioning nightclubs, bars, etc. smacked in the middle of a recreational centre. So that in itself is a situation that is untenable. We have our attorneys looking at the matter. We will utilise all the resources that we have at the council. We gave the principals of that business entity enough time to sure up security, to sure up that the people or patrons that visit that facility does so in a safe manner and they have not really complied.”

 

The popular nightclub and bar on the entertainment strip of the Old Capital was installed back in 2014, despite concerns around the selling of liquor within the park and the possible ramifications. Since then, there have been multiple violent incidents including a full out brawl between rivalling gangs. But then on Friday night, a man was executed in the presence of patrons and police officers. Asher Saunders was shot to the back of the head.

 

Alejandro Cowo

ASP Alejandro Cowo, O.C., C.I.B., Belize City

“Mister Saunders and others were at Pier One socializing when a dispute happened amongst a group of male persons. Police intervened to stop the fight and whilst police was intervening in the fight, someone fired a shot hitting Mister Saunders to the back of his head. I know that police does not control the issue of liquor license to this establishment. They recommend to the liquor licensing board on any event or whatsoever happen in these establishments and police recommends if it is to be closed or open.”

 

But according to Mayor Bernard Wagner, the City Council is but an ex-officio member of the Liquor Licensing Board and, like the police, simply makes recommendations. The principals of the establishment, however, were issued a ten-year extension to its lease contract following Hurricane Earl in 2016 in which it pays the council a meagre three hundred and fifty dollars monthly for the property.

 

Bernard Wagner

“Dah wah ill-advised move in my view from the beginning so the events of last week Friday night clearly are a case where the rooster came home to roost. For some reason or the other, the city council chose to extend the contract even further, giving them an additional ten years lease. But this is typical of the U.D.P. City Council. When we go through the books and when we go through ravelling what they did, it is a constant pattern where you see of long extended contracts to entities that were friendly to them. So we at the City Council felt that it is something we can’t continue to stern the blind side. The people and residents of this city want us to act and we must act. And so in the days ahead, we will be meeting with our attorneys to see the way forward, but clearly something has to give.”

 

While Wagner stopped short of saying that the Council would be shut down Pier One, he says that they are willing to review the module of the business with the principals; that is taking into consideration the legal ramifications of shutting down the establishment.

 

Bernard Wagner

“Every year, business entities have to reapply for their trade license and so that is something in our arsenal that we can use. We also have the liquor license application that we can look at as well. But we will not stand pat on this matter. This matter has to be dealt with and this council is committed to dealing with this matter once and for all. In the interim we are hoping that the principals obviously would sure up their security personnel. We can’t act until we have gotten our legal opinion on the way forward.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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