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Jun 12, 2020

P.G. Residents Concerned Over Construction of New Gas Station

Residents of P.G., along with business owners, met outside of the Punta Gorda Town Council building on Thursday evening to raise serious concerns over the construction of another gas station within town limits, two within a one-mile stretch.  Their point of contention was that no consultations were held prior to the approval of this project and all along, the piece of land where it is being built was thought to be property managed by the municipal government.  As it turns out, the land was disposed of in a private transaction among Chinese businessmen.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano has the following story.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A meeting of concerned residents and development stakeholders was held in Punta Gorda last evening, following public outcry over the proposed construction of a service station at the location of the Dollar Coin, a landmark at the entrance of town.  Present for the discussion were a number of interested parties, including hoteliers and private owners.

 

John Gotz

John Gotz, Hotel Owner, Seafront Inn

“We’re a major stakeholder right next door at the Seafront Inn.  No one consulted us that this was going to happen, any of this suddenly… Where‘s the wall that‘s going to contain or would keep privacy.  It‘s going to affect it, but this is a systemic problem that is taking place for about twenty-five years within PG, long before I got here because when we had the chance, we did not put into place zoning to where we protected certain areas like the coastline and reserved it for businesses that are reserved for tourism and residency.  I‘m not opposed to business, put in a fishing shop, put in a restaurant, put in a dive shop.  No one‘s opposed to any of this but I have an issue with this and my issue is one: we haven‘t seen an environmental report.  Where‘s TIDE?  Where is TIDE.  We‘re going to have now three gas stations.  If we get hit by a hurricane, how will we contain the toxic, the hazardous waste that is going to be released back into our marine system.  But everyone screams the blues and we stop spear fishing, we stop all kinda stuff out there, yet we are bringing in a major hazard and we don‘t have the infrastructure in this town and even if it‘s a manmade spill of gasoline, how will we contain it?  How does Belize City come down here and tell us that our fire department can contain a spill of any kind if a truck has spillage.  These things happen.  But if we get a catastrophic event on our seafront, we will have three major issues to deal with.”

 

On Thursday, News Five spoke with PG Mayor Ashton McKenzie who informed that the acquisition of the property in question is the result of a private transaction involving the previous owners of the land.  He was absent from the meeting where questions were raised about access to the waterfront across from the proposed site of site.

 

Martine King

Martine King, Business Owner

“When my father and I called, it was simply that we want to collect the facts.  We want to know what‘s happening as is due to us as people from Toledo what is happening.  It has never, it‘s being taken very personally but the truth of the matter is that we ask those questions because we want to know.  We were not attacking anyone.   We were not saying anything other than to please give us the facts.  We di hear all kinda thing.  Is there a trade license, has it been issued and if it was then what was your rationale in issuing it considering what it means to the town, not to have something in an area that is right at the entrance of the town.  Also, you have two miles and you have four gas stations in a town that has what, approximately six thousand people.  So, you know, it was really and truly the gathering here today was to say, you know what, we really want to find out what’s happening.  You as the person who represents us must have, if not all, most of the answers.”

 

Former two-term mayor of Punta Gorda Town, Anthony Westby was also on hand and he weighed in on the origin of the sign that has been erected at the location.

 

Anthony Westby

Anthony Westby, Former Mayor, Punta Gorda Town

“Mr. Smith came to me with a plan that we put that Dollar Coin over there and had some people who would fund it and if we agreed to find a spot.  So I found that little spot there which Mr. Mack claimed later on and Mr. Smith and a guy from Canada, I don‘t remember his name, they erected the Dollar Coin and we were in agreement with the council because we thought it was something good for Punta Gorda.  After that coin was erected and inaugurated, about three months later, Mr. Mack came to this town, contacted me right here at this office and he said, “Who gave you permission to put this dollar coin here?  This is on piece of my land“  I said well I don‘t know if it‘s your land and you would have to prove that and if it‘s any of your land it is for the town and I don‘t think anybody who has this town at heart would be so… don‘t want to give at least a six feet of their land to erect this coin.  He said well you have to pay me fifty thousand dollars for that piece of land.  I said well you‘ll have to take me to court because I don‘t have money and I won’t pay either.”

 

News Five understands that all environmental clearances have been given for works to proceed with the construction of a service station at the location. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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