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Jun 9, 2006

Ara Macao developers respond to critics

Story PictureWhether you know it as Scarlet Macaw or Ara Macao, it’s hard to miss the fact that the proposal of a massive hotel, marina and golf course in the south has stirred up plenty of controversy. Critics argue that the environmental impacts caused by the project will far outweigh any economic benefits. In response, tonight the developers are entering the fray of the discussion.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
?You are convinced you?ve crossed all your t?s, dotted your i?s on this??

Paul Goguen, Chairman, Ara Macao Development Co.
?And then some. I think we?ve done a pretty good job.?

After months of having its project, The Scarlet Macaw Resort and Marina dragged through the mud, this week the developers have embarked on a public relations campaign to share their version of the facts.

Paul Goguen, Chairman of the Ara Macao Development Company, says he?s deeply disturbed and surprised by criticisms levied at the project … criticisms that he claims aren?t grounded in reality.

Paul Goguen, Chairman, Ara Macao Development Co.
?We are actually not on the peninsula, we are actually half a mile north from the peninsula if you actually look at where we are on the map; but clearly, we do affect the peninsula as far as the development goes.?

Goguen says another point of contention is that Ara Macao will cause irreparable damage to other beaches further down the coast.

Paul Goguen
?We are actually going to replace the sand on our beach with this coarse sand. As we excavate our marina, we are going to filter it and put it out there. So quite frankly, we want that sand to keep going by, the stuff that?s coming down from the river. It?s not something we are interested in and moreover, if we were to collect that sand, it will fill in the mouth of our marina which would render the marina non-navigable. We need it so that boats can pass through. So any sand that might collect there we are just going to collect it and push off down the line. The real erosion and accretion of these beaches are the result of storms and other weather patterns. One day a storm can put a foot of sand on your beach, another day, and another storm could take it away, that?s usually what happens. We are actually going to do this in phases.?

There?s also the issue of the sheer size of the development, but Goguen has an answer for that too.

Paul Goguen
?You are looking at three thousand units under development right now. We?re looking at a thousand unit over five years. We are only going to be adding about two hundred per year. It?s going to take us about five years to do this. So the reality is the area is only going to be absorbing about two hundred units a year from us. The area is already going to absorb about three thousand other units over the next two or three years.?

Today, armed with the signatures of village council chairmen and assurances that public meetings have resulted in overwhelming support, Goguen maintains that the bottom line is clear.

Paul Goguen
?Overwhelmingly, everybody that we spoke to wants this project and they emphatically say that the few people in Placencia village, and I think there?s only a few, they said they don?t speak for us. We can do our own analysis and frankly our analysis says that we need jobs right now.?

Janelle Chanona reporting for News Five.

Tonight we understand that as part of development plans, Ara Macao is proposing to assist with medical and fire fighting services on the Placencia peninsula.

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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