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Apr 22, 2013

Battlefield Park undergoes a second renovation

But back to the City where a new project has caused an uproar at downtown Albert Street. We can’t exactly call it a facelift, or even a renovation. What it seems to be is a complete deconstruction of the historic Battlefield Park – razing it all to the ground, bandstand and all. Now it seems not too long ago that we attended the inauguration of the newly renovated Battlefield Park, complete with bright new concrete bandstand. So what’s happening now? Freelance reporter Mike Rudon was at City Hall today to get some answers.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

In September, 2010, a little over two years ago, the public attended the inauguration of the new and improved Battlefield Park, courtesy of then Mayor Zenaida Moya. The highlight of the ceremony was this big, bright, concrete bandstand donated by the Hans Nandini Bhojwani Foundation. But Moya’s brilliant vision of the park outlasted her by only a year or so, and today heavy equipment was dealing with that. Mayor Darrell Bradley says that this new Battlefield Park is part of the city’s master plan.

 

Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor

Darrell Bradley

“The plans for Battlefield Park have been in the works for two years. Actually, the design that we took for the park had been taken from the Master Plan Project and that was an exercise that they did two years ago under the former administration and a lot of consultations were done in relation to some of the various projects that were to be done as part of that. The master plan project was only a concept document and project document. So it didn’t talk about the operationalization of the plans; there wasn’t any funding for that. So essentially what we are doing is that we are trying to put in place development plans and projects that are in line with that master plan. This is the same thing with Coney Drive, this is the same thing with the Northern Highway; this is the same thing with Chetumal Street. All of these projects and plans we are implementing them because they come out of that document.”

 

But what can residents of the city expect to see at the park, if not a big, colorful bandstand?

 

Darrell Bradley

“It is to redevelop the park along its historical origins. There will be an area of the park that will be designated for parking for the taxi-men. We are going to put a median along the Albert Street area which will help us with more traffic flow. We are going to take in the Street between Brodies and the Park and that will be part of the park and that is going to be a pedestrian way. We are going to take in the street between the Mule Park and Belize Bank and that is also going to be a pedestrian way. We are going to construct a fountain. We are going to have an area for marches and demonstrations because that is exactly where the court has the annual opening of the Supreme Court so we are going to allow for space for that. And the whole area is just going to be turned into green space with park benches and trees being planted throughout. So it is essentially restoring the park to its historical look. I had a picture of the park as it looked in the early part of the last century and we’ve track the development of the park to how it recently looked and we are trying to restore a lot of the historical features of the park.”

 

Bradley says the plans for the park were just lying on somebody’s desk for two years, until he decided to pick up the ball and get the project going.

 

Darrell Bradley

“We took the project which nothing was going to be done with that today, next week, next month and we went with it because it is an idea which I think is a very good idea and a positive idea for the downtown area. The larger plan for that area is for us to continue our painting project and to lobby Central Area to turn that area into a free zone. But if we are going to turn the area into a free zone, if we are going to encourage businesses to go down there, if we want to stimulate the kind of economic development, if we want cruise ship tourists to spend time in Belize City, we have to have places for them to go. And Battlefield Park is a major area, if uplifted that tourist and residents could enjoy…and we are also talking about how we could incorporate again commercial activity in that area. So that we are not going to have the kiosks that were in the park originally, but we are going to have some very nicely designed kiosks that will encourage the same vendors who were there before to come back and to enjoy the space but in a much better condition.”

 

The project is being done at a cost of three hundred and ninety-four thousand dollars by the International Environments Limited, the company owned by the Arguelles brothers, the same company which is currently doing the Memorial Park project. Mike Rudon for News Five.

 

We note that a highlight of the 2010 renovation of the Battlefield Park was also the placement of a bust of Antonio Soberanis. There is no word today if that bust will be a casualty of Mayor Bradley’s new master plan.

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