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Aug. 2014: Riviera fails to catch train

 

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Centro to face contentious

problems at annual meeting

 

By Staff
    The Centro HOA – a mixed-use complex of housing units and retail condos serving as the “downtown” of Puerto Aventuras – faces some contentious choices when it meets Aug. 2 for its annual convocation.

Aside from procedural steps, voters face the prospect of meting out punishment to several businesses accused of infractions of noise and other common-space rules. In addition, voters will have the opportunity to mull a 40 percent reduction in the salary of the HOA administrator and 10 percent reduction in the common-area rental fee. The common areas are those where restaurants set up their tables and other accessories.

There are also proposals for the association to stop using the Casandra Accounting software and another to cease spending association money for advertising, both of these, among other items, proposed by restaurateur Massimo Forlani. The latter proposal means that businesses could pool their funds to advertise, but not living-unit owners who have no need to advertise.  As to the alleged scofflaws, the vigilance committee is recommending that the HOA revoke the use of common spaces to several businesses for various infractions, the main one being amplified sound of late-night music.

On the positive side, two articles propose resurfacing common áreas in the retail section and installation of new common-area lighting along the marina contour. Site owners may register to vote Monday and Tuesday, July 28-29 between 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.; apartment owners can register during the same hours on July 30, all at the HOA office.

 

Rescue of panicked snorkeler

prompts lifesaving suggestions,

…and a timely response

   A rescue attempt near the Omni Beach reef by more than a dozen people and two kayakers around June 29 has prompted one of the rescue swimmers to blog about the ordeal and to call for stationing life preservers at the beach. No sooner had she done so that a bright orange life preserver was stationed at the Omni just north of the swim-up bar.

PA bakery owner and entrepreneur Donna Carey was one of some dozen swimmers and kayakers who responded to a boy’s calls for help that his father had been snorkeling near the reef when he suddenly appeared to stop breathing.

Carey and a male began swimming toward the stricken man and soon were joined by “about 10 other swimmers” responding to the call for help. As they approached the bobbing snorkeler who had swallowed water then panicked, the two kayakers armed with life jackets arrived first and were able to handle the situation.

“Out here, the current was much stronger,” Carey blogged, “pulling us further out and rather quickly.” One man who was not a strong swimmer was helped along by Carey until they could touch bottom. All the swimmers made it back to shore safely and were met by the scene of the stricken man embracing his wife, Carey wrote.

Michelle Burkenfield, who meanwhile had scoured the beach in search of life preservers and a kayak but found none, joined Carey in suggesting that several life preservers be located at the beach and possibly a readily available board or float device.

“We agreed that Mexico is great because people actually go out of their way to help others. Almost all the people on the beach were doing something to help the panicked man,” including one of the two kayakers who had commandeered the boat to help in the effort.

Now that all these people responded to the call for help, it remains for an agency or business or both to respond to the call for sufficient, readily available basic lifesaving equipment at the beach to help in rescue attempts.

Road project at Main Gate 
could happen in September

New water concessionaire taking over 

   Residents who have been complaining about the rocky surface at the Main Gate entrance designed to slow down traffic may be getting relief this year. The Colonos reports that project is being contemplated for September if a budgeting plan can be worked out by then. Car owners have complained that the uneven surface damages cars over the long term and is difficult to navigate.

In other community business, Colonos General Manager Armando Rincon, noting that the Colonos has been informed the new water concessionaire is ready to assume control of the distribution and administration of the operation, also mentioned that condo administrators have been organizing to get a legal statement concerning the way new fees are calculated for condos.

The Pelican Free Press reported earlier this year that condo administrators in general and condo owners were agitating for reversing the new method of calculating condo water fees described as patently unfair because the current concessionaire unilaterally changed the calculation. It ended the fair practice of dividing the one access meter by the number of condos to arrive at the lowest of multiple rates charged by the concessionaire. The action ending that practice boosted condos into the most expensive rate category and much higher payments.Administrators said that essentially, the concessionaire was unfairly increasing income for the water department on the backs of condo owners only.

In another development, Rincon said lights have been installed on Bahia Chemuyil, where a new sidewalk was laid out earlier this year, and along Marina Mia and Caleta Yalku.

 

Municipal population expected

to double within five years

   As Solidarity prepares for its 21st anniversary as a municipality, Mayor Mauricio Gongora  Escalante predicts Solidarity’s current population of around 159,000 could nearly double to 300,000 by 2020. The municipality includes Playa del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras where officials there believe population could reach 30,000 between the resort, the Poblado and the Puerto Maya development. The municipality also includes Paamul but not the Calica limestone quarry and port, or the ecotourism park Xel-Ha, both of which remain in the jurisdiction of Cozumel. 

Living units, of which there are now roughly 70, and Paamul.,000 in the municipality, are predicted to reach 105,000 within the municipality’s borders. Whether the prediction came before or after the news that a proposed train terminal at Punta Venada, in the municipality, has been derailed (see story below) is unknown.

Solidarity was formed by state decree on July 28, 1993, when the mainland was split from the island  and municipality of Cozumel. On March 3, 2008, Solidarity itself was separated from Tulum when a new municipality was formed there. Solidaridad is bordered on the north by Benito Juarez-Cancun and Lazaro Cardenas, on the South by Tulum and from the Island of Cozumel by Cozumel Channel.

As of the 2010 census of housing, Solidaridad was populated by 83,468 men and 75,842 women, most of them immigrants from southern Mexico states and 12 percent of those figures representing people of foreign origin.

Yucatan dog bites increase

  The growth of dog attacks on humans in the Yucatan – seven a day reported in Merida – is being considered as an early warning by health officials there who plan to put into effect a program of rabies inoculations of some 30,000 pet dogs and cats from Aug. 1 to Nov. 30. in an effort to protect the public.
   Here in Puerto Aventuras, one writer to the Pelican says he is worried when he sees certain large dog breeds being walked by people who cannot seem to control the dogs when they get frisky. Officials here say there have not been any complaints recently of dog bites and that there is little that can be done as long as dogs are, in fact, leashed and being controlled.

Editorial-ito…

Location, location, location…

  “Location” is one of – if not the prime selling point – when it comes to real estate, and recent events indicate that public projects might do better if they heed that advice too. The local press reported last seek that proposed “cultural” areas including public  playgrounds be “located” under the elevated Highway 307 through Playa del Carmen for use by the city’s growing population. That was in 2009 when the elevated highway was proposed.

Now, five years later, the areas are abandoned because, says the local press, the municipality didn’t follow through with necessary guidelines for use of the areas and provide for safety. But a major reason could be location, just as a park and playground designed and implemented a few years ago in Puerto Aventuras by some well-intentioned volunteers on an island flanked on both sides by the major roadway failed to capture the fancy of the public for its location and lack of parking.

Contrarily, sports “domes” and pocket parks built in the Poblado and Puerto Maya close to where people live appear to be getting a lot of use because of their proximity to users and relative off-road safety. It’s a consideration to be kept in mind for future projects.

Commerce Corner…

Riviera Maya loses out

on fed transport projects

Decision seen slowing area growth

   The local press is reporting that the Riviera Maya is being ignored by the federal government in the siting of an airport in Tulum AND by a new federal decision to route the proposed trans-peninsular train to Cancun, some 65 miles away from Puerto Aventuras, instead of nearby Punta Venado, a/k/a/ Calica. The train was originally intended to link Chichen Itza, Merida and other western stops with Punta Venado to expose the Riviera Maya and western frontiers to continued tourist growth.

Riviera businesses and entrepreneurs are not happy with the latest decision to deny the Riviera Maya a share of the transportation spending that would boost area business prospects and increase tourism here. Puerto Aventuras developer Roman Rivera Torres said he checked the veracity of the press reports on July 16 only to learn they were accurate as things now stand.

Rivera Torres said he spoke with Ministry of Communications and Transport authorities and municipal officials in Cancun and learned there had been great opposition to the Punta Venada terminal from the “most influential hotel owners” who pushed hard for a Cancun terminal linking with the airport there. “The opposition thought it was a project to benefit only Calica and Xcaret, which is very narrow-minded and untrue,” he said.

“The facts that weighed in the (new) decision is that the main purpose of the train is to balance economic tourist activity to the west of the peninsula. The ministry officials concluded it would be much more effective to site the train terminal near the Cancun airport rather than Punta Venada,” he said.

“My personal point of view is that connecting the Mayan regions with the Riviera would have been more harmonious than Cancun. The winners will be Merida, Valladolid and the west,” Rivera Torres said. 

Cesar Navaro Medina, former head of the National Chamber of the Restaurant Industry and Spicy Food, partly faulted an apparent apathy of Riviera Maya businesses that did not push hard enough to maintain the Punta Venado site. He also predicted a transportation bottleneck in Cancun if the new route is actually implemented.

The train from Chichen Itza to Cancun will have about 10 stops on its 237-mile trek. Officials are considering starting out with diesel engines capable of traveling at 160 kph but cruising at 110 kph.

Progress on Phase 4 updated 

 

   Phase 4, the final major development project left in Puerto Aventuras, is moving along rapidly as the ongoing canal and marina dredging project is expected to be completed next May, a full year ahead of time, reports developer and architect Roman Rivera Torres.

“The second nine holes of the golf course are on their way,” he said. “It will be a high course that will benefit from the breeze and a view above the tree tops.” He said that while landscaping and urban decoration of main areas has yet to begin, the project infrastructure is well advanced save for the final electrical service. Provisional energy is already available.

Meanwhile, the Colonos reports it has registered four construction permits in Phase 4. As residents may recall, those construction permit fees are to be used to fund the proposed beach replenishment project in Fatime Bay.

 

Mayakoba breaks ground

on new PA-like community

The Spanish firm OHL Development has reportedly broken ground on a 409 acre community project that includes a new 18-hole golf course, an upscale housing  park, a housing area for employees and Mayakoba Village, an urban business center.

It is reported the group plans an investment of $1 billion over a 30-year period, about the same time that Puerto Aventuras took to develop its four phases, the last of which is now under development.

Infrastructure work to open up house lots for sale is expected to be ready in late next year, 2015. Developers there would do well to think twice about mixed-use development that, often as not, has the potential to cause future disharmony between business and condo/apartment residents.

BMW plans Mexican plant,

as does Nissan-Daimler group

   German automaker BMW has announced its plan to construct a $1 billion manufacturing plant in the central Mexican state of San Luis Potosi capable of producing 150,000 units a year.

The announcement closely follows plans by Nissan-Renault-Daimler (Mercedes) to build a $1.4 billion complex in Aguascalientes. A workforce of 5,700 is expected to produce 300,000 units of Infinity and Mercedes cars a year there.

Production of the high-end BMW line is expected to begin in 2019 with a work force of 1,500, said Harald Kruger, BMW’s director. He said thousands of peripheral jobs will be created.

Mexico joins BMW’s production line of 28 factories in 13 countries including one in Spartanburg, South Carolina, USA, that’s been in operation for 20 years.

Meanwhile, Honda has begun production of its 2015 model Fit line in Celaya, Mexico, after two years of plant construction. Honda plans to add production of a new line “Vezel” cross-over model next year for North American sales under a possibly different name. Mexico is now the world’s eighth-largest auto producer.

 

AUGUST PROMOTION: Mayan Security (see logo in sponsor column) is having an August Promotion: Buy a security camera system for your home, business or condo and the ACTIVATION FEE OF $99 IS FREE along with a free month of monitoring or camera hosting. Check the company website at left by clicking on the logo. 

 

Billionaire Carlos Slim proposes

3-day work week to create jobs

  

   Speaking at an economic forum in Paraguay, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim proposed a 3-day work week of 11 hours a day in the entertainment and service sectors to create more jobs and give workers four days off.

“A radical change in the way of work” is inevitable, he said, explaining that “…people are no longer going to retire at 50 or 60 years as stipulated by collective bargaining. In the future people will have to work longer, to 70 or 75, but only three days a week.”

Again Richest man

If you want to know why Slim is smiling, he earned $5.1 billion dollars in just 11 days as stocks in his America Movil telephony empire surged on news Slim is offering the company assets for sale in the wake of the national Mexican government’s legislation to open the telephony and internet market to competition.

The sudden spike in Movil’s stock price propelled Slim’s fortune to $79.6 billion to Bill Gate’s number two standing with $79.1 billion. Slim had dropped to Number 2 when shares of Movil plummeted on news of Mexico’s adoption of anti-trust legislation.

Slim says he is hoping to sell to a company that has experience in the field and is interested in investing for improvements to the Mexican system.

 

Biz Buzz...
  

HOTELS in the Riviera Maya report an increase of 4 percent occupancy for the first six months of this year over last year…MEXICAN STEELMAKER Altos Hornos de Mexico is building an $83 million steel production plant to service the oil industry using much of the technology and processes of German giant Siemens VAI for the production of high-ensile steel used by the oil industry and pipelines. The plant will begin production next year and will be capable of producing 2 million metric tons of liquid steel a year. Alto Hornos employs about 19,000 workers…NEW TELECOMMUNICATION LAWS intended to increase competition and favor the consumer continued to advance amid contentious political debate in July…YOUNG WOMEN WITH DISABILITIES modeled clothing designed with their particular disabilities in mind during a fashion show in Guadalajara, including one in a wheelchair…THE STATE OF JALISCO is being left to its own decision to decriminalize marijuana in specific cases and self-production of weed for medicinal purposes, following a trend in the United States…MOST POPULAR DESTINATION of tourists according to Trip Advisor is Playa del Carmen in the “Traveler’s Choice” survey for 2014. The beach at Tulum was #7 while the most popular area beaches chosen by travelers were Akumal, North Beach in Isla Mujeres, Playa Delfines in Cancun and Paradise Beach in Cozumel…THE NUMBER OF HOTELS in Playa del Carmen has expanded from 51 in 1995 to 384 this year…STATE OWNED PEMEX posted a net loss of $6.77 billion for the first half of 2014 due to reduced production and higher taxes compared to the same period last year. Deputies endorse an opinion to reduce Pemex taxes… MEXICO AND JAPAN ink trans-Pacific partnership agreement…OFFICIALS REPORT that 50 percent of area car accidents involve drunk driving…

Pena Nieto notes decline

in homicides nationally

   While Honduras is now perceived as the “danger” capital of the world, in part responsible from the migration increase north, Mexico’s President Pena Nieto last week declared that Mexico’s capital crimes were on a downward trend, noting a 27 percent drop in the homicide rate including those linked to cartel crimes over the 2012 figure.

The president concurred however that despite the reduction in homicide cases in the first six months of this year, or 8,101 homicides, there were 808 abductions reported by the National Public Security System, an increase of 17.4 percent over the same period in 2012.

Incidents of of extortion were reported down 15 percent, from 4,046 events in the first half of 2013 to 3,419 in the first half of 2014, and down 2 percent from the same period in 2012. Official figures state that from 2006 to 2012, there were 100,000 homicides with 70,000 of those attributed to the drug trade.     

Briefly Noted…

PUERTO AVENTURAS RETAILERS in the villages are asking for police surveillance at night because of a rash of more than 10 recent thefts. One retailer said he’s been robbed three times in a month and is tired of working for thieves…ARTISTS ARE INVITED to inquire and show their work at free public weekly events being planned at the Information Center Art Gallery in Puerto Aventuras on Tuesdays. For more information, call Gladis Perez at 984-802-8305…AN ATLANTIC STORM was possibly forming near Africa as of this writing 5,000 kms south-southeast of Chetumal. It has a 50 percent chance of developing into a hurricane as it heads for rhe Lesser Antilles…AN IMPORTED VIRUS called “chicungunya” similar to dengue and spread by the same mosquito that carries dengue fever has been detected for the first time in Mexico. It was imported by a traveler returning from a sports even in Antigua. Symptoms include muscle pain, fever and general fatigue. And if we thought it was some kind of exotic new curse, four cases showed up in Boston, in the USA. Meanwhile, a new vaccine is said to reduce the risk of dengue fever by 56 percent. Ask your doctor…MEXICO SAYS it has neutralized 88 of 122 identified organized crime targets

listed by the Pena Nieto administration…VIDEO CAMS like those in Puerto Aventuras helped a 5th Avenue sun-glass store in Playa del Carmen identify two tourists who allegedly stole $20K in merchandise. Oddly, employees didn’t know the theft took place until the camera recordings were reviewed. Check Mayan Security logo in left column if you are interested in installing video protection for your home or business…CIRQUE DU SOLEIL will open a theater at Kilometer 58 on Highway 307 between Cancun and Playa del Carmen on Nov. 8 with a show reflecting Mexican history. Ticket prices run from 858 pesos to 2,970 pesos for VIP show, dinner and champagne…MEXICAN GOVERNMENT is taking steps to prevent thousands of illegal migrants passing through the country on a Tabasco train known as “The Beast” in order to eliminate injury and exposure to extortionists…THE RIVIERA HOTEL ASSOCIATION will conduct an internship program this winter for the 140 member hotels to train students in the many facets of the service industry. A similar program was offered two years ago when 350 interns and teachers were paid modest sums to participate…CHOLERA OUTBREAKS in other parts of the country have not affected Solidarity Beaches, reports the head of the state health ministry, because continued testing of local waters by the ministry shows no bacteria contamination… 300 ELDERLY volunteers have taken to the streets of Playa del Carmen to direct traffic outside grade schools for the safety of the young students…RETAILERS in the tourist area of 10th Avenue and Juarez in Playa are agitating for a solution to the problem of sewage overflow when it rains excessively…SOLIDARITY BEACHES accumulated about 60 tons of garbage left by tourists and locals, leading to an appeal by overworked beach cleaners (called “seagulls” in the U.S.) for people to take their garbage with them when they leave the beach and deposit it in containers … A MAGTNITUDE 5 EARTHQUAKE was recorded July 21 in the state of Chiapas in Southeastern Mexico and a 6.4 magnitude quake near Vera Cruz earlier this week. No injuries were reported…THE MEXICAN SENATE began debating secondary legislation on energy reform that will impact oil. electricity, mining and geothermal energy that will set the country on a new course to improve energy competition and production among other changes…DOMESTIC TOURISTS flooded Playa del Carmen beaches in the first week of the domestic high season, promising a profitable summer…A LESBIAN TEACHER dismissed as the result of parental complaints was reinstated in Cuernavaca following a state investigation. “This whole thing was very difficult,” she said. “I hope it ends here.” … BEACH CONTAMINATION was reported last week in the 12th Street area of Playa del Carmen, launching an investigation to determine if the discoloration and putrid odor of the water is a natural phenomenon or possible drainage discharge. A similar event occurred in 2021, say officials…FOUR NEW FIRE TRUCKS have been added to Solidarity’s fire department along with training for some 200 fire fighters…CONSUMER OFFICIALS  have sanctioned a Playa del Carmen gasoline station for operating a fuel pump that was shortchanging customers. It was discover3d as part of an inspection program…  

 

The Mail Bag…

Ferry service taking survey

Dear Editor:

I am forwarding an update from Bruce Nierenberg with regard to the proposed ferry service.  Please respond to his question at BNIERENBERG@aol.com.  A Yes or No answer will suffice..You may forward this email to friends and family who are interested in or would use the ferry service. Please advise me if you no longer wish to be on the ferry update mailing list.Thank you for your participation.

Thank you.

Signed/Tamara Magnusson.

The email:

“We are making good progress on getting a start date for the service.

I expect to have that in the next month. We are targeting to start by April 2015. More info will come to you shortly and you all as our first customers will know before anyone else all the details. Now I have a logistical question for you: If we brought the ship departure point closer to where you are driving from so you did not have to drive to Florida, would that be okay with you and in fact be preferred?

Example: If we left from a port on the Gulf Coast of the U.S. for the trip to the Yucatan that could reduce your driving time up to 10 hours by not having to go to Tampa and still provide all the services you need, would that be okay? 

(A yes or no answer will suffice I don’t need a specific port mentioned as I’m just trying to find out if users would be okay with a port closer to where they left from, like in Gulfport, Mississippi for example.  That could eliminate about 8 to 10 hours off the drive to the ship for them.  I also have found that the gulf states ports are very interested in showing our passengers a lot of appreciation.Thank you for your participation.)

.

Signed: Bruce Nierenberg,Chairman, CEO
United Caribbean Lines,
1369 Lexington Ave.
Davenport (Orlando) Fl. 33837; (321) 427-0332

Liking Omni beach again

Dear Editor:

Went to the beach this week and was very pleasantly surprised. Our beach is returning on the other side of the barriers. Standing in front of the Omni you can now see numerous people standing outside the barriers in a replenished beach. I walked out several hundred feet in a sand covered bottom. It was amazing and I hope it continues to improve. This is the first time in two years I can say I really liked our beach!

Signed/Victor Cabral

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