Beautification plans for Central Park to include upgrades to food booths

Thursday, May 18th, 2023

The plans to upgrade and beautify the central park in downtown San Pedro continue with the aim to make this popular public space more family friendly. A new playground has been installed, and the next step is to do more repainting and improve the facilities of the food vendors.
Many on the island have pointed out the poor condition of food booths on the park’s north side. Some say it is an eyesore as one of the main port entries to San Pedro is via the municipal dock in front of the central park. Mayor Gualberto’ Wally’ Nuñez mentioned they are working on a project to upgrade the food booths.
The Mayor spoke about the idea of building concrete kiosks for the food vendors; however, it is possible to build them from blocks made from Sargassum. Nuñez has been discussing the problem with Mexican entrepreneur Omar Vasquez, founder of SargaBlocks, to possibly make building blocks from Sargassum and use them in a pilot project on the island. This will entail building the kiosks with SargaBlocks and testing if this material works well for construction, as mentioned by Vasquez.
This upgrades to the park are in line with the town’s responsibilities of being a child-friendly community. San Pedro has shown a great commitment in being a community ideal for families and in June 2021 it was awarded the silver status as a certified child-friendly municipality under the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund watch. As such, it is important to have the central park with all facilities to provide an atmosphere where children and families can come out to socialize in a safe environment. The certification also entails children living in a particular community are provided with protection and their families’ concerns are considered.
Additions to the park
Currently, the central park in the downtown area has a ‘San Pedro’ sign, a popular picture-taking spot for both residents and visitors alike. More lighting has been added and surveillance cameras have been installed as well. The park also includes security guards who ensure this popular public space continues being a welcoming area for families. The addition of a brand-new playground has seen more families visiting even late in the evening.
Food safety at the park
The other topic mentioned during the interview with the Mayor was food safety and proper refrigeration at the food booths. “The best thing is for us to build these casitas with electricity and have it properly equipped for them and charge a rental fee,” said Nuñez. He stated that the new facilities would provide an enclosed environment and should accommodate appliances such as refrigerators for better service. Vendors will also be expected to keep a certain standard. All food vendors should hold a food handler’s license. This is mandatory from the Ministry of Health and Wellness that those who come in contact with food obtain a valid food handler’s permit.
This is the same scenario in restaurants required to follow such regulations for food safety. Obtaining a food handler’ license arms the individual (cook) with general food safety, proper appearance and store, importance of using aprons, hair nets and enclosed footwear. This certification also requires the food to be properly prepared and stored in a controlled temperature environment.
The health department will be asked to come onboard to help achieve the standards the SPTC sets. The fire department as well is expected to be consulted, particularly in the proper wiring/construction of the kiosks in an attempt to further provide efficient and safe facilities for the food vendors.
The San Pedro Town Council is currently discussing how to get the SargaBlocks to the island to start the pilot project. If everything goes as planned, they hope to start working on the kiosks for the food vendors sometime in June.
Other plans for the central park include further painting and possibly adding artwork that will feature the history and culture of the island.


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