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Apr 6, 2022

Business Owners Say Parking Meters are Causing Hell on Entertainment Strip

Belizean motorists are being saddled with exorbitant fuel prices, and the new extra parking fees in Belize City seem to be adding to that stress. While the Indian community has opted to wait for the results of a public meeting on Thursday to air their views on the parking meters on Albert Street, business owners in the vicinity of B.T.L. Park spoke out today. They say they were never consulted and that the new meters are actually keeping customers away. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

This band of red paint that lines the sidewalks along Newtown Barracks stretches on one end from BTL Park all the way to Lucca Restaurant & Bar.  It’s a clear indication that motorists will no longer be allowed to stop and leave their vehicles on this side of the road.  On the other side of the entertainment strip, individual spaces have been designated for customers to park in front of the respective businesses.  The length of their stay is metered.

 

Linford Rosado, Owner, Thirsty Thursday

Linford Rosado

“We don’t know where this project came from.  I have consulted with the other business owners and we never asked for any kind of assistance.  We never said that we have a parking problem.  A lot of the businesses around here are large buildings and so most of us don’t have a parking lot, but we were managing.  Now that they have started this pilot project we have immediately seen the effects on our business.”

 

It’s an observation that is being made by several proprietors whose establishments are being adversely affected by the introduction of parking meters in this area.  The brainchild of the Belize City Council to moderate traffic, as well as to generate revenue, is being met with cold water by the private sector.  They are concerned that the installation of these devices is driving away business.

 

Richard Price

Richard Price, Owner, Premium Wines & Spirits

“We now have this situation where a lot of our regular customers who come by to pick up maybe one bottle of wine or one bottle of spirits or a couple of bottles.  For them to get this now, they now park in front of Premium Wines & Spirits, they walk down to BTL Park, they find the booth that is selling these cards, they purchase one for maybe five dollars, they then go and activate the card on the machine and then they walk the next fifty yards back to Premium Wines & Spirits, walk in the shop, buy one bottle of wine or two bottles of wine or whatever it is that they want and then three minutes later, they walk out into their car and drive away.  Now clearly, nobody in their right mind is going to do that.”

 

Premium Wines & Spirits has been operating from this location since the turn of the century.  According to Richard Price, they’ve never had or expressed an issue with parking.

 

Richard Price

“We’re a business whose been located here on Newtown Barracks, otherwise known as the strip.  We’ve been here for just over twenty-two years now and at no time have we ever asked for this parking meter system to be implemented.  There is nothing about it that is good for me as a business owner here.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite.”

 

…to such a great degree that the owner of Shisha 8 Lounge is fearful that he too will be seeing a decline in the number of patrons that visit his establishment.

 

Daniel Schakron, Proprietor, Shisha 8 Lounge

Daniel Schakron

“I’ll be open today, but between three and six o’clock is what they’re going to charge for and I’ve already heard that it’s affecting the other business persons here in the area.  So what am I to expect?  I don’t know, but I know it’s nothing good because I’ve observed everything yesterday and people are literally boycotting parking out here.”

 

It is perhaps the most flak that the Belize City Council has caught other than the proposed garbage fee.  According to Mayor Bernard Wagner, a number of meetings were held with stakeholders in the downtown area, as well as along the entertainment strip.

 

Bernard Wagner

Bernard Wagner, Mayor, Belize City

“We did have extensive consultations prior to the launch.  We never did hear any of these complaints, so I am a bit perplexed.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Coming out of the public meeting, if there is a majority of either residents or business owners who express certain strong concerns against what has been taking place during the first week which would be the test week, what would City Hall be prepared to do to remedy that situation or perhaps, this is extreme, but do away with the parking meters if it’s not working in the favor of the people?”

 

Bernard Wagner

“This pilot project is a one-year project and we do need to get the necessary data.  We don’t see this project, contrary to what people are saying that it’s a revenue-driven… it’s not revenue-driven, it’s to gather the required data, it’s about regulating on-street parking, making those spaces that the city regulates equitable to all residents of the city.”

 

Another public meeting is scheduled for Thursday at the House of Culture.

 

Isani Cayetano reporting for News Five.


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