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Feb 27, 2006

New market opens in Belmopan without controversy

Story PictureThe ceremony was brief and attendance was sparse … but for residents of Belmopan, today was a big deal. The occasion was the official opening of the new market, and as News Five?s Jacqueline Woods discovered, what began in controversy has ended in agreement.

Francisca Mira, Vegetable Vendor
“The space is more open we have more air coming in here in this market, which is very good for the vegetables and everything is okay. The parking, a lot of space?I mean, it?s amazing?

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting
Francisca Mira is one of three vegetable vendors now relocated to the new Garden City Fresh Produce Market situated at the shopping plaza on the Belmopan Ring Road. The project was surrounded by controversy as critics described the effort as a waste of taxpayers? money, but today Mayor Anthony Chanona says his council remained committed to the cause for three specific reasons.

Anthony Chanona, Belmopan Mayor
“The project was always about an investment in our city, the growth of our municipal goods and services, expanding these services. The controversy always spoke to this investment, this massive rush it was … the vision is here today and so what we did, we remained focus, we remain committed because we knew what we were trying to do; it was just a question of being able to get it done. And by the grace of God it has been accomplished.?

“Where the vegetable markets were located, we could never have put a meat shop, we could never have put a bakery. And basically, putting fresh produce with fresh produce, the goods and services dry goods sector where that belongs to allow the uniformity of growth, protection of the net worth of these assets, and allow the city to grow.?

The new market is an accomplishment business woman Cynthia Dakers Enriquez has patiently been waiting for.

Jacqueline Woods
?You own the building that that the three vegetable vendors have occupied for some time. What lesson do you believe we should learn from the example you?ve set, because I?m certain other owners would have wanted them out immediately so they could expand or whatever plans they had in mind. What made you be so patient and wait all this time??

Cynthia Dakers Enriquez, Business woman
“That?s a very good question. I think it boils down to lots of patience. You know the saying, patience is virtue. I am happy to say that I can repeat that patience is virtue.?

“And it was a win win situation of let say for all the parties involved. The City Council was able to keep their obligation, the vendors are now in a better area that we can see from where they were, and also, we will be able to expand our area. So I think it worked out for the best.?

Including in the layout of the new market are fresh vegetables stalls, a meat shop, bakery and a fresh snack booth.

Maria Ramirez, Vegetable Vendor
“Well the building is much better than over there of course. We have new tables and we have more open spaces.?

Jacqueline Woods
?What do you like about the place having its own parking facility??

Maria Ramirez
“It?s much better because then people don?t have to be jamming up for parking space. They can come and go and there?s a big parking space.?

Lionel Rodríguez, Vegetable Vendor
“They fix it up the way?we didn?t think that it would be like this. It is a nice place, it?s good and I like it.?

Francisca Mira, Vegetable vendor
“In the first instance, we have a new building and the building that we were before didn?t have a nice roof. It was already leaking and you can see that probably everything that is new is presentable and this place, I have a big space and the surrounding makes it so beautiful?

The expansion also includes a parking facility and a new road that links two main avenues.

Anthony Chanona
“The council two years ago looked at the option of building, and as we stepped back and looked at it fifteen years from now, twenty years from now, we felt that that would not have been in the interest. The suggestions we were getting from the opposing views to this move was that we should build there. We are now converting that into a parking lot. All the monies has been set aside for that in the interim and it will be reimbursed and paid for by Brodie, a corporate citizen. And therefore we think it?s going to create a plaza and improve the aesthetics and the services for more public parking spaces in this area.?

The new building was dedicated in the memory of Rafael Sanchez a pioneer vendor and the first caretaker of the first Belmopan market. Jacqueline Woods for News Five.

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