Cafe Ole bar, bandstand demolished
This just in…
Camel kills ex-PA restaurateur
Richard Meleskis, 60, an early businessman in Puerto Aventuras before moving to a ranch in Tulum, was killed on the ranch Monday, Oct. 13, where animals were kept, the local press has reported. A witness said Meleskis was attacked and killed by a camel as he passed by the animal. The witness, identified as Manuel Medina, and another person tried to assist after hearing cries for help by tying the animal to a van and pulling it away from the victim.
Meleskis was brought to the house alive on the ranch named the Tulum Monkey Sanctuary, but died moments later, the witness told investigating officials.
A U.S. native from Chicago and congenial conversationalist, Meleskis had acquaintances and friends in Puerto Aventuras and was a frequent participant at informal breakfast gatherings there. Meleskis formerly owned Richard’s Quarterdeck Restaurant in PA. Federal officials, who counted some 25 animals on the ranch, closed the property, which was sometimes open as a zoo. Officials were investigating the legal status of possessing the animals that included deer, emus, stags, spider monkeys and the camel, among others.
begets regrettable pile of rubble
Rules enforcement exploded in the Centro Marina on Oct. 11 when the Centro owners’ association began dismantling the bar and bandstand at Cafe Ole for alleged breach of various construction and anti-noise regulations.
Shortly before the razing began, café owners Gaylita Dunaway and Gary Adams took to the internet asking recipients in an e-mail to petition the Centro association to refrain from destroying what they had built, hinting the demolition could mean the end of Café Ole.
It was not known at this writing whether the aggrieved Café Ole owners, made aware of the upcoming demolition, attempted to file a protective injunction with the courts to possibly prevent the association action pending negotiations to settle the differences they might have in a less destructive way.
E-mails to the Pelican Free Press shortly after the demolition began shortly after 7 a.m. according to Security report, indicated that the seriousness of the association’s actions was dividing the community in a mix of vengeful anger and sadness that an issue like this was allowed to come to such a regretful head.
There was talk on social media of boycotting the businesses of those association leaders responsible for the demolition and accusatory remarks demonizing the association leadership and others believed to be involved. Security reported a crowd of an estimated 300 people eventually gathered at the site as various lawyers and officials argued over the work and the need to keep the peace between residents and demolition workers.
“The town is really in an uproar over this one,” wrote one observer. Evidently, some residents were standing by the partially demolished bar and bandstand in an effort to stop more destruction. “But most of the damage is mostly done. It will cost more now to fix than to start over,’’ the observer said.
In addition, Security personnel were on hand only to assure that no one was injured as the crowd began to gather. It was Security’s job to keep the peace, said Colonos GM Armando Rincon.
Resident David Zannoni came upon the scene a while after demolition. “There is just rubbish now outside. It is a horrible sight. I spoke to the owner (Gaylita Dunaway). She was obviously completely broken and desperate. She told me this was her life and asked how was she expected to earn a living.”
Resident Angelo Mouzouropoulos believes there has been a miscarriage of justice and has asked the Colonos to investigate which local organizations have granted themselves the right to destroy private property without reference to the Mexican legal process. However, Colonos general manager Rincon inferred the situation is a matter of civil law between Cafe Ole owners and the Centro Comercial Association that rightfully should be argued and resolved in the courts.
Meanwhile, Rincon said a local newspaper reporting on the incident inferred Puerto Aventuras might not be a good place to do business, thus giving the community a black eye of sorts. Additionally, Colonos board member Tim Howard said he had written to fellow board members asking them to think of ways to diffuse the situation, “which is very bad for the image of Puerto, and possibly its economy as well.”
In support of its actions, the association minutes listed a number of alleged rule infractions by the café owners. They included refusal to sign a common-space lease agreement until the very deadline, twice opening a hole for a window in a wall that condo residents said threatened the structural integrity of the building, exceeding permissions given for construction and facade modifications and being uncooperative in correcting them, among other alleged transgressions involving the band stand and bar construction.
All the while, the Cafe Ole proprietors say they received permission several years ago to build the structures. Some wording in the translated minutes appears to agree that at least some approvals for the work were given and subsequently rescinded.
The association minutes say one of the cafe owners was present when the association voted thus on Aug. 2: “It was agreed that (the Cafe Ole owners) should demolish all fixed structures that are in public areas adjoining the Local A-1 (palapa, pallet band, granite countertops, drawer-style kitchen hanging on the wall of the building, glass wall, concrete benches and a concrete wall) leaving the step in the common area, within a period of not more than thirty days from the present (Aug. 2) assembly, Gaylita Dunaway being present (as) the occupier of the premises… (was warned) that otherwise the immediate withdrawal of the palapa, pallet band, pots, granite style kitchen drawers hung on the wall of the building, appropriate wall glass, concrete benches and a concrete wall…the administration (following the order of the assembly) and its administering representative will clear the common area, returning it to its original state.”
An observer who read the recently-released minutes of the Aug. 2 association meeting perceived the association’s heavy-handed enforcement actions as understandable in view of the fact that some unspecified business owners have been in arrears as much as seven months or more in common-area dues and have been ignoring agreements and regulations for too long despite repeated association pleas for cooperation.
Association rules say business owners who owe more than three months dues are subject to eviction from the common property they use for their business. The minutes of the Aug. 2 meeting also note the association’s actions were approved by majority vote in some cases and in others by unanimous tally of the roughly 46 percent of votes represented at the meeting.
The votes also supported charging the Café Ole owners for the demolition and any damages caused to the property of other owners as the association attempts to return the common area to its original design.
In other steps taken by the Aug. 2 assembly, businesses that provide entertainment were also put on notice that future noise infractions will have dire consequences. After two warnings, use of common areas will be revoked and if the enforcement order is ignored, the owner will be given 30 days to vacate the common space or face court proceedings, the minutes explain.
The association had apparently been trying to get business owners to willingly follow legitimate rules adopted at assemblies but without much success according to some sources, thus prompting more stringent enforcement.
Businesswoman Donna Carey, who says she has never served on the association board, also used the Internet to defend her self-described neutrality on this issue when some residents reacted to the demolition by faulting her as somehow complicit in the association’s actions, an accusation she denies.
“I have had nothing to do with the decisions made or implied on either side of this unfortunate situation,” she wrote. She said she had acted as translator for Gaylita Dunaway during the Aug. 2 meeting, then attempted to broker peace between the parties.
In a previous Pelican Free Press story, Carey noted she had withdrawn as peacemaker because “past relationships with all involved could be misconstrued as conflict of interest.”
The battle isn’t over. Rincon said he believes there is likely to be legal proceedings. Cafe Ole owners could not be reached by deadline.
In other business, the assembly agreed to have its administrator bring comprehensive proposals and budgets for resurfacing common areas and installing new lamps along the marina to next regular assembly.
Baiting the rodents?
Rat sightings signal
time for precaution
Information from a Centro area business person that two rats were recently seen in Centro and one in the Omni driveway spurred an inquiry to the Colonos administration whether other reports of rats have been received.
Colonos GM Armando Rincon said the Colonos has not received any complaints about the rodents, but noted that there have been reports from residents, particularly in Caleta Xel-Ha, of a considerable coati population increase.
Rincon took the opportunity to ride around the community taking photos in the early morning to show how larger, nocturnal foraging animals like coatis and raccoons are able to tip over rubbish containers that are set out at night by residents who should be waiting until morning to deprive the animals from nighttime food sources.
“People in Puerto are not taking care disposing of garbage at the proper time,” he said. “Containers of garbage should not be put out at night but in the morning when the garbage trucks make their rounds.” Judging from the photos above, the animals are having a feast at night and paving the way for an increase in the rodent population as well, Rincon implied. “Neighbors need to create the conditions of cleanliness by disposing of their rubbish during the morning and build animal-proof container sheds for their garbage cans.”