March 22, 2023

Belize City Mayor goes public over land dispute in Caribbean Shores

darrell bradleyFrom

A storm has been brewing since last year over a parcel of prime seafront property in the Caribbean Shores Area. Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley says that the Council has been maintaining the property for over ten years and wants to develop it further for recreational use. But it has now come to the attention for City Hall that the land is being claimed by a highly connected individual and the mayor and residents are prepared to go to battle for the land. News Five’s Isani Cayetano has this story.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Belize 1 belize 2 belize 3 belize 4Parks and recreational spaces are important to community development.  The designated areas serve a number of purposes, including a common meeting place for residents of respective neighborhoods.  In Caribbean Shores, along Seashore Drive, a small, waterfront plot managed by the municipal government has been set aside for just that.  Tonight, however, the Belize City Council finds itself in the center of a land dispute over Parcel Number 3820 which is being considered for private ownership.

Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor

“We want that parcel to remain for public use.  There are certain issues that we are raising here.  The first issue is that historically that has always been accessible for the public and the city had earmarked that to do a development when we do Seashore Drive.  This is what I communicated to the Commissioner of Lands, when we upgrade Seashore Drive we wanted to upgrade that area because we notice that there’s some erosion taking place.  We wanted to continue the boulders and there is a seawall on part of the area and we want it to remain for public use.”

That plan, nonetheless, is in jeopardy since the parcel is being claimed by a private individual.  In early 2013, the council was notified via a letter issued by Commissioner of Lands Wilbert Vallejos that they were illegally occupying property belonging to Giovanni Blease.

Darrell Bradley

“Our research has indicated, and I’ve provided to you a copy of the most recent register, the Land Titles Register that we obtained which is dated December 2nd, 2013, which shows that that property is still in the name of the Government of Belize and the city council has always been maintaining that property as a public park.  …our position is simply that we want to continue to maintain it as a park.  We want to develop the area for the residents of the Caribbean Shores constituency.”

Despite the ongoing controversy, in November of last year, a team of youths from the Interact Club spearheaded a cleanup campaign which included the sprucing up of the park’s gazebo.

Vivek Budwani, President, Interact Club [File: November 28th, 2013]

“What Rotary Sunrise along with the Government and the community in Buttonwood Bay is that we are renovating the park here by the gazebo. We are stating off today by painting the gazebo. But what they want to do is build a playground over here and a nice environment for everyone here in Buttonwood Bay to come and hang out. And they want to do a chest area and like a playground for kids and make it really interactive and nice because they want to develop the community and make it more presentable.”

While the facelift did much to improve Seashore Park’s appeal, a few days later Vallejos informed CitCo that a caution which had been filed months earlier was being challenged legally.

Darrell Bradley

“We had lodged a caution on this property in April of last year and this was because we had gotten wind that this land was going to be issued for private development and we wanted just for a hearing on opportunity to make representations to the Commissioner of Lands that private development should not be allowed on this parcel.”

Subsequently, a petition to garner as many signatures from residents in opposition of the sale was signed.  A total of fifty names were attained from that exercise.  According to Mayor Bradley, a section of land adjacent to the playground provides necessary drainage for the area.  Developing the parcel will cause a backflow.

Darrell Bradley

“On that land there is a major outflow, a drainage outflow that goes into the Caribbean Sea and that’s one of the main drainage areas for the Caribbean Shores area.  If there is a development there, more than likely the person who would then own that piece of land will build a structure there and if they block that drain it will likely cause a backflow and it will likely affect the flooding conditions in that area.”

The mayor says that City Hall’s move to block the sale of government land and its ensuing development is not a personal attack on Blease.  The motion is being taken with the best interest of the neighborhood in mind, as well as to thwart what would be a precedent being set should Blease be awarded that seafront parcel in the area. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

The hearing on the prime property will be heard on January twenty-ninth. When we contacted Blease, he referred us to his attorney, who maintains that the property is being claimed by Blease.

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