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December 14, 2016

Assembly OK’s park proposal,
gate project, 5 percent fee hike

CASTING SHADOWS on a discussion of safety issues in the main gate road design are, from left, Colonos board member Daniele Gracis, developer Roman Rivera Torres, Sharon Baigle and real estate agent Sally Evans. (Staff Photo)

By Staff
Colonos voters approved a 5 percent increase in the 2017 maintenance fee at the annual Assembly held Saturday in the Dreams Hotel. The increase includes $12,000 USD each in dedicated funding for the Red Cross clinic and ambulance and for the Transformar Educando Civic Association, a teaching, social services and health counseling provider for the neediest poblado families of Puerto Aventuras, Akumal and Chemuyil.

Also approved following lively debate was a special assessment of roughly $205,840 USD to complete the second and last phase of the main gate project. Work could start in April-May when the special assessments are paid in the first two quarters. The plan adds two more entrance gates for residents, a switch gate in or out to accommodate peak demand hours, new pedestrian access, increase Security office space, improve camera technology and provide a secure and staffed second-level monitoring workspace.

Residents Sally Evans and Sharon Baigle of Bahia Akumal spoke persistently from the floor advocating safety design changes that would ease residents’ access to their road. They explained in detail their transit difficulties and the potential for an accident under current circumstances. They suggested design modifications while another speaker championed use of a traffic cop as being less expensive. Colonos board chairman Jorge Kaufer said the suggestions were under serious consideration.

Resident Angelo Mouzouropoulos suggested what he saw as a better way to present financials for a project such as this to improve transparency.

The golf-to-park transition    

There was considerable discussion over developer Roman Rivera Torres’ proposal to forgo the second nine holes of the golf course in favor of a community park. Several property owners in the park area, including Eduardo Said, expressed disappointment over what they said was the expectation their property would someday front a golf course and increase their property values.

GETTING the details are residents and voters at the annual Colonos general assembly held last Saturday in the Dreams Hotel. (Staff Photo)

But even they were not so much troubled by the park idea as they were in believing the timeline for its development after waiting since 2009 for the second nine holes and not getting them. They tied their approval to having the park developed in a reasonable amount of time.

Several speakers said they could support a park but not the addition of 83 unexpected house lots along its periphery, which the developer said are needed to fund park development and provide assets for its maintenance. Several speakers said they worry about excessive growth and the traffic, parking, infrastructure and other potential problems that usually accompany growth.

Gate use up, golfing down

In presenting the park and gate plans, Rivera Torres said 2,500 vehicles use the gates on an average day, slowing the process at peak hours. The improvements should ameliorate that process. On the golf issue, less than 3 percent of residents use the existing nine holes, giving the operation a monthly deficit. He said more people use the existing course for walking dogs, jogging, and other uses more befitting to a community park that, by its nature, is less costly to maintain and gets more use by more residents.

It was also noted by the Colonos board that approval of the park plan was being sought as a courtesy and an effort to involve the community in its development. The Fideicomiso (Trust) would continue to own the land. Once completed by the developer, the park would be maintained by the Colonos for the exclusive use of residents. It would be free of commercial activity, the board said.

Legality questioned

A question from the floor asked if the change of use was legal and in keeping with the master plan. The developer said it was since the master plan describes the golf course areas as green space, rather than specific use.

The public has already been engaged in proposing park uses, suggesting a jogging/bicycle track, picnic area, pet park, children’s gym, athletic field for use by the Colegio and public, a community garden for planting vegetables, and other uses that will be under discussion. Colonos Chairman Kaufer said development could begin shortly after the house lots are approved, which he said could take about a year. Proceeds from the lot sales, up to $3 million USD, will fund park development paid by the Fideicomiso. (For more details on the above issues, scroll down to previous edition.)

Bikers register concerns

Several residents articulated concerns with the green-lined bicycle path along the community’s roads that were painted for use by children going to school and residents at large. One speaker said the two-way lane is too narrow, forcing a biker to swerve into the traffic lane when confronting another biker going in the opposite direction. Speakers on this issue also requested signage improvements.

Too narrow, but restricted by available space?

In that vein, the former owner of a Centro business last week was struck by a car while bicycling across the pedestrian walk near the confluence of Boulevard Puerto Aventuras and  Bahias Xcacel and Yanten. Minor injuries and bicycle damage were reported to Security. The driver of the rented car was  a guest in a local hotel, Security said.

Another issue resurfaced concerning zoning and a two-unit residence in a one-family zone, which earlier prompted a speaker from the floor to comment that with 83 new house lots coming with the park, enforcement of zoning rules will be paramount to avoid overpopulation.

Attendance was average with most seats occupied. The Colonos board and vigilance committee and staff were applauded for their reports and handling of the association treasury. The meeting lasted about four hours and ended as the cookie tin was found to be empty.

Tax discounts still available

The property tax discount of 25 percent is still available in the Colonos meeting room the rest of this week, ending Dec. 16. Make payment with your bill or last year’s receipt between 9:30 and 4:30…The Colonos employee Christmas party will be held Dec. 16. Bring gifts to the Colonos office until the morning of Dec. 16 if you haven’t already done so… Trivial pursuits will be played at Latitude 20 Restaurant at 4 p.m. Sunday. Proceeds help fund assistance to the children in the poblado… The annual road race is scheduled for January 22. Register at the Colonos office. The event is being sponsored again by Dolphin Discovery…

Commerce Corner
John Klug: The answer-man
to medical evacuation questions

Where do I go? What do I do? I‘m so nervous! Dear God! Who will help me? Who do I call?

John Klug

Call John Klug at 984-169-2600. He is right here in Puerto Aventuras and says he is ready to answer those questions before you are confronted with the critical need for an immediate medical evacuation of a family member to a hospital in the US or Canada for specialty life-saving care.

Mr. Klug is the Riviera Maya’s senior consultant for Travel MedEvac, a membership organization that has the specially equipped and configured MedEvac jet planes always at the ready with experienced pilots and staff to transport an emergency patient and a family member to a destination hospital without causing added distress.

Travel MedEvac flights are efficient, less stressful “and for as little as $250 a year per person (depending on age and time spent in Mexico) you can be protected against upwards of $50,000 in costs for an ordinary medical evacuation flight,” Klug said.

Leaving the details to the experts.

Travel MedEvac membership handles all the necessary steps such as ground ambulance, navigating the legal international aspects of emergency travel and many more adjunct services that allow family members to concentrate on supporting the patient.

Klug, who is assisted by his wife, Bernice, was a publishing executive in Denver, Colorado, for many years before purchasing property in Puerto Aventuras and making it their second home. Bernice worked at the Children’s Hospital of Denver for 30 years as a nurse practitioner in oncology.

Their affiliation with Travel MedEvac membership began while the semi-retired couple investigated how they would protect themselves in a medical emergency while traveling or living in Puerto Aventuras. “Far and away, Travel MedEvac membership offered us the most practical and comprehensive service we could find and an array of affordable membership prices,” Klug said. “I was so impressed I offered to represent them in the Riviera Maya.”

Klug has been involved during his business life with the International Rotary and is now a member of the Seaside Rotary in Playa del Carmen, which is involved in funding a program that employs law firms to obtain birth certificates for children of families arriving from inland villages `in order for the children to attend school. (The government does not educate children lacking a birth certificate.)

Klug and several other residents of Puerto Aventuras also worked quietly through Rotary to acquire thousands of dollars in medical equipment for the new Red Cross station in Playa del Carmen and re-establishing the Red Cross clinic and ambulance service in the Puerto Aventuras poblado that also services resort residents.

“Families living or visiting here who might have health concerns or fears that could someday require medical evacuation, are invited to investigate the comprehensive services provided by a Travel MedEvac membership plan and call me with questions they may have.” Klug said. “I’m here to help.”  (Readers can click on the Travel MedEvac logo in the sponsor column to reach the web site and pertinent facts.)

Puerto Aventuras included
in huge new biosphere area

By Staff
The Mexican government last week announced the creation of the nation’s largest biosphere reserve of 5.7 million hectares, and Puerto Aventuras is included.

The Mexican Caribbean Biosphere Reserve, on and offshore, includes the Quintana Roo coast including Isla Mujeres, Benita Juarez (Cancun), Puerto Morelos, Solidaridad (that’s us), Cozumel, Tulum, Bacalar and Orthon P. Blanco.

The announcement came last Monday from Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto during the opening of the global biodiversity summit in Cancun.  Nearly 1,900 species of flora and fauna, 500 species of fish and 86 species of coral are in the biosphere’s parameters.

The state’s Caribbean waters and coast contain various habitats and ecosystems. Inland are different types of rain forests, while he shoreline is host to dunes, lagoons, flood plains and mangrove swamps. Seagrass meadows and coral reef dominate the state’s sea waters.

The National Protected Areas Commission (Conamp) will administer preservation efforts that will be enforced by the Navy. The attempt will be to protect what the Environmental Secretariat (Semarnat) lists as damage from the intense traffic of cruise and cargo ships, inexpert reef divers, fuel spills and illegal settlements ashore threatening the ecosystems.

The Round-Up…

Underscoring the need for educational improvement as noted at the Colonos Assembly last week by Transformar Educando, were results of international testing by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development showing Mexican students near the bottom, scoring 416 against the average of 492 in the OECD’s member countries…

Election of delegates in the poblado is scheduled for Dec. 18. Press reports note that dissatisfaction with the lack of services to the community there has created much interest in changing representation…

The Navy and environment authorities stopped three companies from illegally doing business in Akumal. The companies were found to be allowing too many people into the water to swim with turtles, contributing to damage of corals and the turtles…

A big-truck rollover on  Highway 307 recently that stalled traffic for up to four hours prompted renewed talk about constructing alternative routes to the airport to avoid gridlock in such emergencies. Four hour delays translate into a lot of missed flights…

A teen-age girl has given birth to triplet boys at Playa del Carmen’s general hospital, where mother and newborns remained under observation last week. The single mother, 18, lives in Cozumel…

State authorities have filed charges against members of various boards, including some in Playa del Carmen. They say the officials were complicit in the questionable property dispossessions that occurred last year in Tulum…

Increased thefts from cars in Playa del Carmen’s mall parking lots has prompted a reminder from authorities regarding laws requiring liability insurance to cover losses and damages not only from theft but poor maintenance of the lots that could cause accidents. In the first months of 2016, there were some 200 reported incidents of theft from parked cars, officials said…

Nature Watch…
Snowbirds missed the chance
to see locust swarm in action


By Staff
We were disappointed when we returned to our condo here in late October. Ours is a second-level  unit and we had grown fond of the two flourishing palm trees that gave us the softly swaying beauty of fronds we could almost reach from our balcony. They added to our privacy and our supply of afternoon shade.

We noted on arrival the lower fronds had been surgically removed with machetes by maintenance staff despite our plea to spare them in the absence of a pressing reason. Evidently there was one.

We were told by condo management that swarms of locusts had hitched a ride into the Yucatan on the outer winds of Hurricane Matthew and feasted in a frenzy of gluttony upon the local flora that, to our chagrin, included our palms, leaving the lower fronds in a limp, moth-eaten condition .

Here’s looking at chew. (Staff Photo)

We wouldn’t have mentioned this were it not for a sluggish hanger-on we encountered on our staircase recently.  It was hanging over the edge of a step looking down at the hard tile some six feet below as though it were contemplating suicide.

By itself there, appearing to be in a serious funk, it seemed inconceivable it could do the damage that was escribed to us by condo management…were it not for their size and numbers. This fellow was no ordinary northern Yankee grasshopper. He (or she) was a good 4-inch plus bruiser that apparently had been left behind by his army, perhaps as a rear-guard.

We are told the locusts could have come from northern Africa – desert locusts – riding the fringe winds of a hurricane. The hordes are known to work up an appetite crossing the Atlantic at the speed of the winds at about 2000 meters above the water. It has been reported that swarms crossed from Africa to the Caribbean that way in 10 days during a 1987 plague.

One swarm contains  as many as 50 to 100 billion locusts weighing approximately 100 to 200,000 tons.

Some residents here reported their windows were covered with them during the roughly one week they were here feasting on Puerto Aventuras cuisine. Some say they could have been Central American locusts, about which we know nothing.

We don’t know what happened to the leftover locust on our staircase. But we  see the damage.

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For emergency phone numbers, church services, “resident” and “gate” card forms and processes; rules for golf carts and motorcycles, pets, construction by-laws, recycling schedule and other pertinent community information and services, please click on the Puerto Aventuras Colonos icon below. Thank you

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