“No water taxi terminal in front of former Ruby’s Hotel” say island leaders
Sunday, May 24th, 2020
Both the Area Representative for Belize Rural South (Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker) Honourable Manuel Heredia Jr., and the Mayor of San Pedro Town, Daniel Guerrero, have gone on record indicating that no massive water taxi terminal will be built in front of the former Ruby’s Hotel. Both island leaders clarified the allegations that the San Pedro Belize Express (SPBE) Water Taxi had been given the green light to build a large boat terminal in the said area. They said that the only place the water taxi companies could relocate to is to the facilities at the Sunset Boardwalk on the lagoon side.
Heredia and Guerrero appeared on separate occasions on Reef TV’s morning show. On Thursday, May 21st, Heredia refuted the allegations of the proposed boat terminal by the dock in front of the former Ruby’s Hotel. He said that when SPBE stakeholders shared the plans of the project, it did not sit well with the nearby businesses in the area, nor the local authorities. According to him, it was then agreed that no massive terminal was going to be erected. However, the company, which owns the hotel and dock is seeking permission to do some renovations. Heredia said that all SPBE wants to do is to refurbish the pier. He added that the San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) will attempt to finish dredging the lagoon channel to accommodate larger boats and access the terminal. Water taxi companies have refused to relocate to the lagoon boat terminal because the area is allegedly too shallow for their vessels. Heredia pointed out that once the lagoon channel’s dredging is complete, all water taxi operators will need to relocate to the lagoon side.
Mayor Guerrero was on the show on Friday, May 22nd, reiterating what Heredia said the day before, and shared the SPTC’s position on the idea of a large water taxi terminal on the eastern coast of the island. He made it clear that their position has and continues to be against such a project. “Not only San Pedro Belize Express, but any water taxi terminal on the eastern side of Ambergris Caye,” he said. Guerrero said that they also continue on the position that as soon as the lagoon channel is dredged, water taxi companies will need to relocate to the boat terminal on the side of the island. “If in the event that they override me, I mentioned very clearly the last time, that if I have to lead any protest to stop the building of a water taxi boat terminal, I will be willing and happy to do it. This is my home and this is what we fight for,” Guerrero said. “I can guarantee to the people that no water taxi will be erected in front of Ruby’s.” He pointed out that if SPBE intends to renovate the dock in front of the hotel, they will have to submit such plans to the SPTC for a thorough review.
Guerrero explained that his administration is working on getting the necessary permits to continue dredging the said channel. According to him, dredging had begun in January 2019, but was interrupted due to some issues with the company doing the job. According to him, they have once again worked out the dredging of the lagoon. “But we are waiting for the approval of the dredging license, because I do not want to send [anybody] to do so without a license,” said Guerrero. “I want to do it right.”
Island residents were assured the Sunset Boardwalk boat terminal is the final operating place for the water taxi operators, when the waterways are prepared for the large vessels. Mayor Guerrero said that a meeting is expected to take place in the upcoming days with the water taxi companies, to discuss the way forward with the relocation to the lagoon side.
Currently, two water taxi companies, SPBE and Ocean Ferry, operate from the eastern shores of San Pedro. As of 2016, SPBE has been using the Municipal Dock, and in late December 2018 they acquired the former beachfront property of Ruby’s Hotel. Thereafter, plans were revealed of the building of a massive water taxi terminal that would accommodate shops, cafes, restaurants, including a three-story parking lot facility.
The project has faced strong rejection as it is considered unsuitable for the location, because of its proximity to a primary school, and the potential impact on the peace in the area brought by unprecedented congestion in this area of downtown San Pedro.
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