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Concert Feb. 25 to inaugurate PA’s ‘Cultural Center’

Posted 2/13/11 by Pelican Paulie

 

What has been previously known as a church will morph into Puerto Aventuras’ new “Cultural Center” when the first in a series of entertainment events inaugurates the transition with a concert on Friday, February 25, from 7 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $50 pesos for all music lovers on both sides of Highway 307. The committee hopes to attract 300 people at the venue located at the south end of Calle Akumal.

Lucia Perrotta, standing in for her traveling husband, Daniele Gracis, chair of PA’s Cultural Committee, said this will be the first-ever event at the venue that is promoted by and for the benefit of the cultural committee. In a sense, said Sra. Perrotta, this event willserve as a gauge as to what residents might prefer to see and hear in the future.

“We have a 5-piece band that includes three Cuban musicians and it will offer a variety of musical styles to include classical, jazz, blues, bossa, funk, Latin and Rock.”

Gracis had mentioned the plan to begin using the attractive Palapa-roofed, semi-circular, open-walled, coliseum-type seating structure as a cultural center several months ago during an impromptu conversation in the office of Colonos general managerArmando Rincon. He said at the time that bathrooms – nonexistent then – would be constructed to accommodate patrons attending the cultural events. Those facilities will be ready for the Feb. 25 concert.

Sra.Perotta said there has been a growing demand for more cultural offerings in PA, and now, having a center for performing arts, allows for that demand to be met and continued to be offered on the condition that residents support the events with their attendance. Any proceeds left over will go to the Cultural Committee’s revolving fund and be used to promote and underwrite future events. “We have purposely kept the admission price low so that all who love music can attend,” Sra. Perrotta said. As always,  public support of the performing arts is a prerequisite for successful community programs. Come meet old friends, make new ones and get in the rhythm of life.

Members of the band include vocalist Lorena Gonzalez, pianist Adrian Orlenas, guitrarist Jorge Galvez, drummer Julio Cepero and violinist Guuillermo Guiterrez. Assorted beverages will be available for sale.

Balcony imbroglio roils condominium owners

Vigilance panel’s self-interest consent opens Pandora’s Box to inquiries

posted 2/13/11 by Pelican Paulie

Controversy has erupted over construction of two balconies at Torre Esmeralda Condominiums last June that were approved by and built for two leading members of the condominium’s homeowners association who have implied they had the consent of the then condo administrator and the Colonos.

But this week, Colonos general manager Armando Rincon and former condo administrator Oscar Calderon denied they approved the construction that had triggered a torrent of questions from concerned owners and a trickle of vague, undocumented answers from the vigilance committee during the condo association’s annual meeting Feb. 1. and thereafter. The denials by Rincon and Calderon stem from statements byDon Papa, president of Esmeralda’s HOA, and Dennis Burris, of the 4-member Vigilance Committee, claiming they had secured their permission to build the balconies.

“Let them show me a paper with my signature on it,” said Rincon when asked about the alleged approval. “The Colonos has no standing in these private property construction matters to begin with,” he said, indicating it

isn’t  necessary to get a Colonos sanction for such work. He explained the only involvement the Colonos had in June was its discovery that workers on the balconies were evidently smuggled past security into the resort area without acquiring and paying for identification required of all workers according to security policy. He said work was stopped then allowed to resume on the balconies after the identification issue was resolved. “The Colonos had no involvement with permitting the actual construction.”

Calderon said he didn’t even know construction had started on the balconies until it was discovered by his assistant, Cindy Lapkine. She said she came upon the work one day and “I asked them what they were doing and they said it had already been approved by the Vigilance Committee.”

Papa and Burris have repeatedly implied to inquirers, vocally and in writing, that they had the blessings of Calderon and the Colonos in addition to the HOA lawyer and their own consent as empowered members of the Vigilance Committee. They in essencecondoned their own construction plans without any peer review by owners, which, say some observers of Quintana Roo state law, requires approval by 75 percent of the association voters at an assembly. Some of the owners have perceived the actions of Papa and Burris as a conflict of interest, while Papa and Burris believe they were authorized to make such decisions for voters at last year’s association meeting. Some owners said they also sense a perception of stealth in having the balconies built in June when most owners are absent. Papa and Burris say the work was done in the open. Meanwhile, there seems to be little argument over aesthetics of the façade change. Some see the balconies as an improvement and in keeping with architectural design.

What also stirred owners, as expressed in a flurry of e-mails following the annual meeting, is the claim by Papa and Burris that the balconies have not added living space to the units and therefore will not be charged an expanded maintenance fee or, it follows, municipal taxes. Papa and Burris claim the Mexican way of totaling living space is different than in the United States. They say they have already been paying an expanded fee for the “empty space” between their ground floor terraces to their second floor roof line. This claim is countered by Calderon and other officials in the resort who believe the balconies add to living space and should figure into the maintenance fee and the official living space of the building. Calderon also quoted from superseding Q. Roo condominium law noting the state requirement for voter consent prior to construction.

Papa and Burris say they have discussed these matters with HOA lawyer Alberto Avelaiswho, they say, approves of their actions. Alicia Venturi, among others, an owner and architect, has fired a number of e-mail questions at Papa, as president, and copied them to other owners, wanting to know, for example, who among the four VC members voted for the balconies, whether an actual vote was taken and minutes recorded; whether engineers were hired to assure structural integrity; whether municipal permits were obtained if required and other pointed detail questions.The VC members say they answered what questions they could at the annual meeting. They say if permits were required, they assumed the builder would get them. They suggested further inquiries should be made to the HOA lawyer. since, they say, thecommittee members are not experts and do not have all the answers. Bonnie Rodriguez, another VC member and secretary, says she has never taken minutes of meetings nor has she ever seen any. The committee meets when its members are in Mexico, but corresponds by email otherwise, she said. “I assume that members of the VC partaking in decision making via e-mail are retaining their correspondence,” she said. As to her part in the recent construction, she said she had been against a plan by Burris to build a wooden balcony a few years ago but said at the time she wouldn’t object to one that conformed to the architectural design and materials, cement in this case. She said she was not consulted for a vote on the actual construction. The fourth VC member is Marc Baron.

Calderon said there is a history behind the balcony affair between the administration and Burris that began before Burris was on the Vigilance Committee. Calderon said Burris, and Burris concurs, had originally started to construct a wooden balcony and was ordered by Calderon to stop, setting off what Calderon states has been a tense relationship between the administrator and committee that has, he believes, somehow figured into his provoked resignation as administrator on Feb. 1.

Despite the mix of strong feelings over this entire affair, all four volunteer, unpaid vigilance committee members were unanimously re-elected at the annual meeting (there were no other nominations) and applauded for leading the association into its own regime, more oversight of finances and other progress that, say Papa and Burris, required many man-hours of their vacation and away time dealing with association issues.

The balcony affair has apparently smudged the credibility of the Vigilance Committee among some owners who see the situation at an impasse. Answers to satisfy aggrieved owners and/or vindicate the Vigilance Committee may never surface unless neutral investigators from the state and the municipality intercede with determinations that carry the force of accurate, written, official law. There are four other owners waiting in the wings to construct balconies and it would serve the condominium community and its investors well if the required processes were fully understood and followed.

 

News you can use

Tourist traffic up, so is Centro business outlook

Posted 2/13/11 by Juanito

There has been a noticeable increase in traffic around the village and the restaurants are saying… “It’s about time!” In addition to an increase in tourism, it seems many of our part-time residents were late in returning this year too. For those newly arrived… here’s a quick peak at what’s happening right now in Puerto Aventuras.

MORE NEW RESTAURANTS? Although it would seem we already have more than enough restaurants to serve such a small community… here come at least five more. Pelican reporter’s visited the large palapa on Bahia Xcacel, next to the “Aventuras Club Private Residences”, to investigate rumors that a new restaurant was being built there. We were able to confirm that the palapa, which was originally built to house a reception area for

selling time-shares, is being converted into an open-air restaurant. New restrooms were being constructed the day we were there. The person we spoke with explained that they are still in the planning stage and, that as of this writing, the proposed restaurant remains unnamed, and the menu uncertain. Although it was mentioned that one possibility might be to serve fresh seafood, being supplied by local fishermen and prepared fresh each day. Time will tell.

GRINGO DAVE’S” is now “GRINGO’S CANTINA”. It seemed to transform overnight. Apparently the new owners decided to conclude Dave’s consultancy duties, which came with the purchase, and become independent. Odd thing though… Dave still has a small space in the back of the restaurant from which he sells Gringo Dave T-Shirts. And he still mingles among the tables visiting with patrons. It seems some things never change. Kudos to Kristen and Donnie, the new owners of “Gringo’s Cantina”… we’ve heard lots of positive feedback about the improvements you’ve made at the restaurant.

 

THE TALE OF TWO PUBS… continues to cause chatter amongst regular customers. “THE PUB”, Which a long time staple in Puerto’s restaurant community, was first established by Paul Wedge. He operated the restaurant and bar for many years before selling it to Joel Garcia who continues to operate the business today. Shortly after purchase, Joel nearly doubled its size by expanding into adjacent rental spaces He also increased the size of the outdoor seating area. More recently, probably due to the economic slowdown, The Pub hasreduced its size. Interestingly, Joel elected to do that by vacating the original storefront and consolidating into the neighboring property. This left the building’s owner, Mr. Wedge, with a vacant property which he will now fill by opening another restaurant. An outdoor palapa bar was recently constructed, and from this he plans to sell fast food, Mexican Style. The name of his new restaurant/bar will be… (You guessed it)… “THE PUB”!!

According to Paul, he still owns exclusive rights to the name and only sold the business operation to Joel Garcia. Seems like someone will need to change their name… or we won’t know where to go when somebody says… “Meet you at The Pub”!

MIKAMALE…The Italian restaurant next to the Kiosk, opened in a second location during January. Both locales share the same kitchen, but now you can choose which view you like best; Mikamale Garden or … Mikamale Marina. They both seem quite romantic, featuring table cloths, candles and home made pastas.

Pizza lover’s still await the grand opening of PAPARAZZI PIZZA! This brick oven inspired pizzeria is the brainchild of Tiramisu’s “Memo Cameretti” and is scheduled to open soon in a space formerly occupied by The Italian Bakery. Also scheduled to open next door to the Pizzeria and Rosticceria is Donna Carey’s REIKI BAKERY & MARKET. And, that makes five! Did you count them all?

U.S. Consul offers web sites full of useful information

Posted 2/13/11 by Waco Kid

Residents who missed the recent informational meeting at the Colonos Hall concerning FM3-2 issues can review a previous story by Juanito detailing steps to renew visas by email. Check the archives section in the Pelican Press. As in other countries, government regulations are always a work in progress and Mexico is no different. U.S. Consular Agent Samantha Mason of the office in Playa del Carmen, couldn’t use the same power point program on visas used in last year’s informational talk here because there have been so many changes in the process. But she did offer the web sites listed below as sources of information for snowbirds and ex-pats.

Here are the websites:

http://www.solidaridad.gob.mx/ – Solidaridad government web site;
http://merida.usconsulate.gov/ – US consulate in Merida;
http://inm.gob.mx/ – Immigration office;
http://aduanas.gob.mx/aduana_mexico/2011/home.asp – Customs office;
http://sre.gob.mx/ – Mexico Secretary of Relations;
http://www.gobernacion.gob.mx/ – Secretary of Government;
http://portal.salud.gob.mx/ Mexico Secretary of Health;
http://inapam.gob.mx/index/index.php – Senior citizen services;
http://travel.state.gov/ – US State Department Travel site;
http://qroo.gob.mx/qroo/index.php – Quintana Roo government site.

Some other information Samantha gave us:
Her email: playausca@gmail.com;
Her emergency cell: 984-807-8355 Vonage number: 202-370-6708.
The address is Calle 1 Sur between Avenida 15 and Avenida 20.
The building has recently been painted red. Samantha now has an assistant named Ricardo.

About renewing passports: It takes about 2 weeks to get a passport but Samantha said that we should make an office appointment about 4 months before it is to expire. If you notify them in advance, they will send the forms. Depending on the type of passport, the cost is around $110 USD. A representative from the Immigration Office – Mariana Ambrossi – talked about Visas. She primarily reviewed the current process. She said there will be more changes coming about April 29.

Briefly said…

There will be a book sale benefitting the Puerto Aventuras community library outside Cafe Ole on Wed 23rd from 10am to dusk.  All books are only $10 pesos or $1 US. Then on Sat 26th, Library volunteers will be selling books and signing new members at the farmers market at the kiosko from 8am – ?  Every new library member who signs up that day will receive 10 free book sale books!…New diver’s license renewal regulations require applicants to bring with them a passport and copy of the first page; the original and a copy of a utility bill; original and copy of both sides of the license to be renewed; original and copy of the FM2 or 3, both sides. It is believed renewals will coincide with the annual renewal of the visas, essentially, on a one-year basis. Applications should be brought to the new immigration center next to the police station where the ring road connects with Highway 307 in Playa del Carmen…

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