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December 2015, Week 5

Assembly annual report 2

Report takes a look back,

and a view ahead to 2016

By Staff
What did Puerto Aventuras accomplish in 2015 and where does it hope to go in the new year of 2016? The generalities were included in the Colonos board’s portion of the 2015 annual report to the people.

Spending hugged the projected 2015 budget within a 2 percent deficit margin but was covered by surplus collections over the last few years. This enabled the Colonos to complete the first stage of street lighting improvements, increase security technology, and replace unraveling brick pavement on Bahia Xcacel  with stamped concrete along the road fronting the Hotel Catalonia and on Bahia Xel-Ha. Also, 85 lights were installed on Bahias Xaac and Soliman.

There was sufficient money to also finally replace the nerve-wracking rough stone at the main gate’s downward slope with stamped concrete, place a few topes and vados along the main boulevard and cameras at the resident gates. Address plaques were placed on homes and signs posted in condo areas giving the block and lot numbers to improve mail delivery.

On the social side, a successful road race was held with more than 500 runners, a food fest attracted 400 diners and 22 exhibitors, tennis courts were leased and lighting assured by the Colonos for less expensive night-time play. Also, the sargassum invasion came and went and came again but generally was beat back in a spirit of cooperation between residents of Kantenah Lagoon and Colonos.Also, 20 dog waste receptacles were placed around the community and six trash cans positioned on the beach.

Enhanced security

Twenty-one thefts were reported from January to May 2015, alerting the Colonos to an urgent need for improving security by taking the following actions: Beam lamps were installed on security cameras along roadways to enhance camera night vision; a guard tower was built and manned along the border with Hard Rock Hotel; barbed wire was set up along Villas del Caribe on Bahia Chemuyil; a security camera was installed at the south canal to prevent boat theft (there weren’t any); a cooperative action between the Fideicomiso (trust) and Colonos (property owners’ association) to build a new fence along the Phase 4 highway perimeter was reached and the project is  now under way.

A few more improvements were made at the main gate where, experience has shown, persons suspected of criminal acts within the gated community can usually be identified from the videos and in some recent cases, caught and arrested.

Call to self-protect

Cameras were also placed at owners’ entrance lanes, automatic turnstile at the pedestrian access point and a screen system matching the worker I.D. card with the person carrying it. Colonos board chairman Jorge Kaufer noted that with the improvements, including extra guards posted at no charge by the the security company, thefts dropped to three between May and December.

As pointed out from the floor by resident Angelo Mouzouropoulos, the improvements do not absolve property owners from taking responsibility for their own security, locking windows and doors and other common-sense steps to self-protect.

On the comforting side of the security issue, not a single crime resulting in personal injury has been reported for many years within the community  and the grounds continue to be nicely maintained by the Colonos workforce.

What’s up in 2016?

Given the understandable emphasis on protection during 2015 and the main gate’s primary point of security, the Colonos is working on a plan to update the gate area in 2016.

The vision is to create two additional homeowner lanes, an improved pedestrian entrance more separate from a vehicular lane and an office containing video and other security equipment to provide added security and faster, safer entrance and exit at the gates.

This would avoid future gridlock at the gate as Phase 4 and home sales increase domestic and commercial traffic through the gate. A suggestion was made from the Assembly floor to also assure the gate is manned by at least one English-speaking person, particularly at night, in case of emergencies among the English-speaking stakeholders and visitors.

Some of 2016 will be spent studying physical designs, price estimates and funding sources for the project and once a viable plan has been adopted, it will be presented to the community for discussion and approval.

Expansion on way

Another event that could impact life here in 2016 is a plan to accept Phase 4 as part and parcel of the Colonos homeowners’ association. Phase 4 must meet a major provision, however: It has to be self-sufficient and provide sufficient maintenance fees to offset the increase to the general Colonos budget.

Acceptance would merge Phase 4’s roads in with the rest of the resort. This would end their private status and open the gate for use by the entire community. It would also shift the responsibility for maintaining and securing the roads to the Colonos, ending some confusion over access that occurred during infrastructure construction.

Sufficient fee generations could be near with 50 of the 110 lots sold and paid for and construction of a 42-unit condominium slated to begin in February. Several more lots in the development are reserved for condos and several for hotels. Two of the latter lots were under agreement with Russian investors last year who pulled out of the deal leaving their cash binders behind, according to the developer.

An informal census taken several years ago by the Colonos administration settled on a full-time population of around 1,500 that increased to about 2,200 with the high-season arrival of winter-only residents. Continuing construction and sales in most phases of the resort has not been robust lately, limiting the rate but not the potential of population growth. 

Housekeeping and social issues

The Colonos will continue awareness programs involving animal control, traffic and golf cart management, pursue rubbish and recycling efforts and continue  maintenance of the well-kept resort grounds.

The traditional road race will continue in 2016 on Jan. 31 and the food fest in March while concerts, popular here for a few years, appear to be on the wane. For self-improvement, music, Spanish and art lessons will be available in the private sector. With these projects and awareness programs in mind, the Colonos board says, “Let’s be good neighbors and encourage others to do the same.”

 

Trivial Pursuits Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016, 4 p.m. at Latitude 20 with Shannon Rachynski. Proceeds go to the needy.  The Dec. 13 trivial game collected  gifts and raised 3,000 pesos with which to buy more gifts for the children of the poblado … Annual road race scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 31. Time is getting short so sign up at the Colonos office. There are 10K and 5K races and shorter jaunts for children. More information later… Group Spanish lessons are returning to Puerto Aventuras this year with Maestra Gloria Contreras who has been teaching informal groups here for quite a few years. Classes will be held Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:30 a.m. for beginners and 12:30 p.m. for advanced and intermediate. Contact her at gloriatraducciones@hotmail.com or call cel 984-108-3517 for more information… Check your local restaurants to find those offering New Year fare and events.

 

 

Blockade compels Akumal

to ‘access’ negotiating table

By Staff
  A four-day protest blockade that sullied Akumal’s tourism image just before Christmas diminished business revenue considerably, it has been reported. The roadblock ended in a tentative agreement reached Sunday (Dec. 20) that reopened road access to the beach and nearby commercial area for the holidays, but not before discouraging some tourists.

The protest underscored Akumal’s long-lasting quarrel over beach access pitting private versus public sectors, its lack of a local governing body to forge agreements and the apparent disinclination of the Tulum municipal government, state and federal agencies to intercede.

As one Akumal businessperson recently told the Pelican, “Unlike Puerto Aventuras…we are still stuck in this no man’s land where we are not private, but we are not a municipally supported community either.” The village is part of the Tulum municipality.

Nearby Akumal has long offered a ready respite to Puerto Aventurans seeking a change in surroundings, looking for a more spacious beach, better snorkeling and  different restaurant fare and ambiance. Akumal’s access problem then is of concern to Puerto Aventurans.

An understanding of Akumal’s quandary is partially explored in a local newspaper report about the blockade provided by the Akumal Ecological Center (CEA). The CEA is the operating arm of “Centro Ukana 1 Akumal”, which manages the property itself separate from the CEA programs and is a party to the access conundrum.

“Litigation between private individuals, coupled with the lack of state and municipal government intervention, has left millions in losses and a bad image of the destination after four days of blocking the main access road to Akumal beach,” the newspaper report noted. The blockade ended Sunday (Dec. 20) after a temporary agreement was reached between the opposing parties.

“Meanwhile, Ukana believes the controversial pathway to water has been its private property for more than 40 years while the indigenous community says it has had free access by right for more than 40 years.” And there the argument stands pending legal determination by apparently hesitant civil and/or judicial authorities.

In the temporary agreement reached Dec. 20, Ukana says Akumal “residents” may use the access path – not to be confused with the main road – for recreation as always but wants commercial activities, many operated by indigenous people, redirected temporarily without fees through the commercial entrance while negotiations are being conducted.

A source close to the situation says that in the long term, Ukana-CEA wants to keep the path it claims as its own open free to beachgoers, but re-route commercial traffic and charge commercial operators $12 USD per person to help defray costs of maintaining the beach. It would also serve to keep the main road clear of commercial operations that have been causing traffic jams, according to Akuna.

The $12 fee would provide $4 for bay management (lifeguards, rest rooms, etc); $4 to CEA programs (turtle management and protection, water quality studies etc.) and $4 to support pueblo community projects.

Some Akumalians expressed the hope a new year will bring new ideas to the opposing sides and lead to a fair and permanent resolution of the access issue.

 

Where is it?

Renewing bank cards a mix

of frustration and frivolity

By Staff
  In late November we queried Bancomer as to whether we would receive a new debit card by mail as ours was to expire in December. “Come back after January 1st  and we’ll issue a new one,” said a bank spokesman at the Centro Maya branch. Period. No. They don’t mail it as they do in the US.

We dutifully complied, albeit a few days before Jan. 1. Shunning the preferred lane, we waited 20 minutes in the teller line. The teller filled out papers, asked for passports, sought guidance from another teller, had us sign some stuff and then told us to sign in, sit and wait for a “customer service” person located in one of those somber cubicles that vaguely remind us of emotional torture chambers.

Waiting was long, a little over an hour, but not without comic episodes to assuage the frustration. An older man seated in front of us was going bonkers after after sitting for more than an hour waiting for service and watching stern bank employees running about hither and yon like robots carrying muy importante papers for who knows why.

The man left his seat to check his position on the name list and abruptly a woman and child grabbed the seat. He had to stand and pace about, slapping his thighs and scratching his head in frustration. Watching him elicited empathy spiced with a pinch of comic relief from those still seated.

“We will probably die here before we get service,” a matronly woman said in Spanish after “walking” and wiggling her fingers to mimic the customer service employees seemingly spending more time conferring, pacing importantly from cubicle to locked doors, teller cages and back than in servicing customers.

“Maybe we should get together and order pizza,” said another, drawing some muffled giggles. We counted four people who got sick of waiting and left in a huff without receiving service.

Patience paid off. After a little more than an hour, we were summoned into cube-land. We gave the lady the papers the teller had us sign and our debit cards. She wanted to know why we were there. Huh? We thought she knew, that it was apparent.

Passports were requested again. Hey, didn’t we just do all this? So we did it again. She fiddled with the computer, dropped stuff on the floor, picked it up, stamped some papers, went into a drawer and came out with two envelopes containing debit cards. She reached for scissors and cut our existing cards into four or five pieces into the circular file before we could say we were immediately going to shop at Soriana’s. Will the new cards be good?

“Si”, she said.

For all the fun we had burying our frustrations with humor, we learned the joke was on us.

After buying about 600 pesos of food, the new card was not accepted. Not at Sam’s Club a little later either, where the cashier had the decency to tell us he thought we needed to wait 24 hours before using it. Our US credit card saved the day. Come to think of it, at an exchange rate of 17.2, maybe the joke wasn’t on us after all.

The question remains, however, was the cashier at Sam’s correct? Would our card be good in 24 hours? Tune in next week for the exciting conclusion of “The Debit Card Coma.” Happy but patient banking in 2016.

You’re welcome.

The Round-up…


Hotels and other projects in 2016 are expected to keep the unemployment rate along the Riviera Maya at 3.6 percent, which is below the national average, doubling some 20,000 temporary construction jobs but adding to the population and traffic growth of the area. Two major projects include the first stages of the Mayakoba city where 5,000 new residential units are planned, the Dreamworks project adjacent to Cirque du Soleil and continuing buildout goal of Puerto Aventuras…

Foreign nationals taking up residence in Quintana Roo increased 27.5 percent over the last five years, or approximately 1,000 new residents a year, says the National Institute of Statistics and Geography ((INEGI). The figure rose from 18,517 foreign residents in 2010 to 23,614 in 2015. Growth is expected to continue with changes in immigration law providing less cumbersome access to permanent resident visas, particularly for retirees…

Monitor spider monkeys… A permanent program to monitor the effects defoliation and urbanization have on spider monkeys is being proposed. Only one Puerto Aventuras sighting has been reported to the Pelican in the last two months…

Early news reports indicate a successful start to the high season with hotel occupancy at nearly 100 percent  in the holiday week. Marine services suffered somewhat because of weather conditions although tour operators pointed to increased sales. One report claimed that Puerto Aventuras experienced a “business boom”…

On the sad side, first responders in Cancun said emergency calls far exceeded the norm over the Christmas holiday, reporting two homicides and attempted suicides and many other injuries from various types of mishaps such as falling, accidental cuts and multiple traffic accidents resulting in injuries. Playa del Carmen reported many calls for assistance and one traffic death on the federal highway when a pedestrian was hit while trying to cross the busy road…

Rising land prices on the Riviera Maya are beginning to exceed what hoteliers say they can accept to build new facilities and still make a profit, says the National Tourism Business Council… Mexico’s trade deficit reached $1.57 billion in November as oil prices continued their slide and exports declined by 4.1 percent from a year earlier. State owned Pemex said it would shed jobs to counter a 50 percent decline in petroleum exports…

Perceived education flaws – A poll by the National Autonomous University of Mexico reports that 4 out of 10 people polled believe that teachers are not well prepared to do their jobs while 5 out of 10 polled said the major problem is the lack of schools… A wildlife documentary is being filmed along the Riviera Maya showing flora and fauna and will be released for showings in commercial theaters when completed…

Disturbing pollution is not only a problem in Beijing where people need to wear masks on some days. Mexico City had to cancel some large  Christmas festivities because of high concentrations of particles in the air… Added security measures taken by Puerto Aventuras during 2015 and planned for 2016 are in line with Mexican thinking these days. A poll shows “security” is the nation’s top wish for the new year, followed by 17 percent seeking better government and 7 percent wishing for the elimination of corruption…

 

PRODUCTION DEADLINES: The Pelican Free Press encourages and welcomes public announcements of events and activities. The deadline for publication in any given week is Monday at 5 p.m. for production mid-week, usually Wednesday. Thank you.

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