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Why Billionaire Russian visited PA

Omni Beach replenishment

still years away … unless

By Staff
   The acquisition of federal beach replenishment permits by the Catalonia Hotel in Puerto Aventuras and at Mayakoba has revived questions about when the long-delayed Fatima Bay project might get under way. At this juncture, there is little money and no date-certain. The project apparently remains years away.

Residents anxious for the project to be done and cranky over the delay should remember that patience is bitter, but the fruit is sweet. What might help is a general understanding of why there isn’t money for the project now, not even enough, says developer Arq. Roman Rivera Torres, to fund “all the studies” required for the permit process.

Where is the money supposed to come from?

The developer and the Colonos entered an agreement approved by voters at an assembly that if the developer paid for all the new streets and infrastructure in Phase 4 and turned them over to the Colonos for public use when completed – meaning the Colonos wouldn’t have to pay for the streets – the Colonos would then be able to collect building permit fees as lots were sold and houses built to fund the beach replenishment plan. The costs of the stonework needed to construct the underwater artificial reef would come from the Phase 4 rock pile from channel construction.

To date, as the developer nears completion of the Phase 4 canals perhaps by the end of April, Colonos GM Armando Rincon said the Colonos has collected only two building permit fees from Phase 4 and placed them in the beach replenishment escrow account for future use. It is hardly enough to get the beach project rolling.

The years it would take to raise enough from building permits was addressed at the time of the negotiations. What helped seal the deal at the time was a reported small group of wealthy owners of waterfront properties who would advance the money needed for the beach replenishment project then be repaid by the Colonos as fees were collected over the years.

Because of that, projections for an early completion were bandied about. Studies and requests for proposals were negotiated with the Oceanus firm and a Florida university professor after Rincon announced receipt of a signed loan agreement.

Initial phase would be for the design of an underwater barrier and construction of a barge. In June of 2013, Rincon announced the project would begin in a few weeks. Oceanus estimated in July 2013 the project would take eight months and if started that month, it could be completed by February 2014.

Then the loan fell through for no published reason.

Some beachgoers were disappointed as were some condo residents along the bay’s shore. Since that time, the developer has placed visible temporary reefs along the shore and reinforced some parts of the Omni Hotel beachfront bar and steps from being undermined by encroaching surf and to help trap what remains of the sand.

Unless there is a surprise funding mechanism, the project appears to be several years away, and that estimate is, thus far, fully dependent upon the pace of collecting Phase 4 building permit fees, which could be a fast or slow process. In the meantime, some beachgoers are making do in good spirit with what remains of Omni beach, or a pool perhaps and/or taking short day-trips to other beaches.

The fishing’s good! Call Capt. Rick’s and grab a pole!

EAR YE, EAR YE, EAR YE !

 

Feel alive! Take a dive with your friends at Aquanauts

Red Cross stalls opening

in search of more funding

   Reopening of the Red Cross clinic and ambulance service in Puerto Aventuras has again been delayed by the Red Cross while it searches for a guarantee of 75,000 pesos a month ($4,995 USD) to operate the facility. The PA outpost was closed without notice last December for lack of resources. The Red Cross had opened a much larger facility in Playa del Carmen (Pop. heading for 200,000) that required much more of its resources.

A handshake agreement with the Red Cross was made earlier this year by members of an ad hoc panel of Puerto Aventuras resort residents and Colonos administration who guaranteed 25,000 pesos a month to cover half the salaries of four paramedics and two doctors (all earning the same amount) in exchange for promptly reopening the facility based in the poblado. Two deadlines have since passed and the facility remains closed.

Horacio Moreno, RC director in Playa, told the local press during the launching of a new ambulance in Playa last week, that the Red Cross was intending to negotiate with Puerto Aventuras hotels such as Hard Rock, Barcelo and Omni to up the ante. The Red Cross needs the 75,000 pesos monthly to operate the outpost. Moreno said the reopening depends on the success of negotiations with the hotels.

Prepare the pool for summer! WeRWater has everything you need!

Billionaire’s PA visit generates

talk of Phase 4 investment

By Staff
   The rumor mill was churning so fast last week over the appearance of a gleaming 390 foot yacht in Fatima Bay off Omni Beach that it caused a mental short circuit in many a talking head.

Forget that the yacht, which looks part submarine and part landing-craft, anchors off many more shores than just Puerto Aventuras. It visited Cozumel before coming here and who knows where else in the Caribbean and world it will next get tongues wagging.

Here in Puerto, the 17-foot draft ship set off a buzz that Russian billionaire owner Andrey Melnichenko just might be here to invest in Phase 4, since it was earlier rumored that Russians were negotiating here to construct a hotel near the caleta. Who better to ask if that theory holds water than developer Arq. Roman Rivera Torres. His answer was something to grin about:

“I WISH!!!!!!” he replied.

Then he explained, “Mr. Melnichenko and his wife, Aleksandra, are traveling the Mexican Caribbean coast and within their itinerary they marked Puerto Aventuras as a place to visit and also as an adequate place to form a base from which to visit the area,” Rivera said last Thursday.

“He was supposed to be here only a day and a half. The seas are calm, weather couldn’t be better and he may be staying a couple of days. There is no interest in investing. As a matter of fact, with people like him, what they appreciate more is their privacy and anonymity, so we are respecting their space fully.”

Casual observers near the Omni reported seeing a huge door open on the side of the ship and a tender come out of it like from a garage, skip over the bay and deposit passengers into waiting limousines on shore.

Melnichenko has an estimated fortune of around $11 billion. The Yacht, the sixth largest in the world when it was launched in 2008 and now reportedly out of the top ten, has a crew of 37, a helipad forward, a custom made covered tender, an open tender and two rescue tenders in the beamy 61-foot garage. It can cruise at 22 mph for 16 days before its 200,000-gallon diesel fuel tank registers empty. It’s smooth and untraditional bow design leaves little bow wake even at 29 knots.

Melnichenko is a reputed mathematics prodigy. He owns more than 90 percent of Eurochem, a top world producer of mineral fertilizers; the Siberian Coal Energy Co., a major world producer; and the Siberian energy Co. known as OOO, Siberia’s leading power generator.

His wife, Aleksandra, is a former Siberian model and pop-singer. Melnichenko was born in 1972 and once was among Forbes’ “under 40” billionaire’s club. He graduated from the Plekhanov Russian Economic University.

Keep your property dry this summer! Call Definitive Solutions

EASTER SUNDAY is April 5 … LABOR DAY  is May 1 in Mexico… CENSUS TAKERS from the Institute of National Statistics and Geography (Inegi) are in Puerto Aventuras to March 27. Personnel in uniform and carrying identity papers will do the polling randomly. Anyone with doubts when contacted by a census taker can call local Security 984-873-5128 or Inegi directly 1-800-111-4634…  SPANISH CLASSES at Latitude 20: Call Gloria Contreras at cel: 984-108-3517 for information… Falling back in love at our age. Oh, why not? – Join Professor Emeritus Jim White at 10 a.m. March 31 in the Colonos meeting room. Prof. Jim White has published scientific data on how to enliven a loving relationship and add years to your life at the same time.… SEASIDE ROTARY is an English speaking Rotary Club that services the Municipality of Solidaridad. The club meets at 12;30 p.m. Tuesdays at the SOHO Bistro in Playa del Carmen. Meetings are open to the public and visits from visiting Rotarians and anyone interested in doing good work to support our local community are encouraged to attend… APRIL FOOL’S DAY is next Wednesday, April 1, when folks and even institutions like the news media play practical jokes…

 

 

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Dancers, golf course venue

please ballet aficionados

The Coppelia’s Ballet Co. of Playa del Carmen performed on the grounds of the Puerto Aventuras Golf Club last Saturday to an appreciative crowd
of 300. Children of the PA colegio had dancing parts in the demanding Swan Lake production and were applauded for their performance.

Thank you to Escuela Profesional De Danza Y Artes for providing a wonderful evening of entertainment. The Company’s production of "Swan Lake" was magnificent. Congratulations to the dancers who were excellent, from the lead ballerina to the young jesters. The music, costumes,and lighting were amazing and all added to the experience.

Also a big thank you to the Golf Club for allowing the production to take place on the golf course. The setting, with the pond in the foreground, could not have been more perfect for Swan Lake. Even the weather cooperated with a lovely breeze to keep us cool and mosquito free. Well done.  (Photo by Gayle Sandholm, review by Deanne Sandholm)

Briefly Noted…

A new ban on conch fishing was implemented last week in Quintana Roo closing the fishery until 2017. Remember that complaint about fishing for the mollusk in Fatima Bay, Puerto Aventuras, was registered with the Colonos a few weeks ago and a suspect identified. Violation of the rule carries fines and jail time… A Patrol Car and a golf cart are new additions to the Puerto Aventuras Security Force as the result of a renewed 2-year contract with the security company. Security Chief Jesus Galdeano said the car will be used mostly for night patrols, particularly along fencing, while the golf cart will make night runs on the golf course, which can be used as escape routes by thieves at night… The Red Cross is building a new outpost in Puerto Morelos as Puerto Aventuras awaits reopening of its local Red Cross facility and ambulance service… Cancun hotels say they are full up with domestic and foreign reservations for the Spring Break and Easter… Mild contamination was found in 30 percent of Quintana Roo’s cenotes and fresh water in “permissible” amounts, reports Conagua, the national water commission. It also reported that Q. Roo water is among the cleanest nationally… A bio-diversity agreement between Q. Roo and the federal Commission on Bio-diversity has been signed, opening the way for an integrated conservation strategy and sustainable use of natural resources… Eight Mexican citizens visiting the Bardo Museum in Tunisia when it was attacked by terrorists, escaped unharmed, the Mexican government has reported. The raid left 19 people dead and 24 injured… The National Housing Fund for Workers has approved a loan limit subsidy for 15,000 homes in 2015. Construction of subsidized homes continues in Puerto Maya as population there grows… Federal authorities have been conducting investigations in Merida since they arrested the leader of the Knights Templar drug cartel there last month. This week they repossessed a house under construction while investigating a female suspect with links to the cartel. Keeping the Yucatan free of drug violence is paramount in sustaining the touristy Yucatan as a safe place to be… – Sort of sea sick  were nearly a dozen vacationers in Playa with allergies from the voluminous amounts of kelp floating ashore…

The Mail Bag……

On both sides of golf access issue

image Dear Editor:
   This comment is in regards to the access of the golf course. My husband and I are on both sides of this issue. We are members of the golf course and we also have a dog. We bought our condo in part because of the golf course, the beautiful view it affords us. We have lived on golf courses for many years and realize the expense and work involved in maintaining a business, because first and foremost, it is a business.

We pay a membership fee every year to be able to play uninterrupted golf on this beautiful course. Our dog longs to run the greens and dig in the sand traps, but we know that allowing her to do that would take away the enjoyment from the people who have paid to play. When we first moved into our condo, the greens were an open house to man’s best friend. At the end of the day, the dogs would be turned out without supervision onto the golf course to leave their calling cards behind.

I say this only because I have been a victim while out playing a round of golf. I fully believe that the intention of the owners of the golf course is not to make life difficult for those who access the golf course, but to accommodate those who pay for the use of a well maintained golf course, which, as stated earlier, is a business.

While I would love to be able to walk my Chacha on the golf course and let her run wild, I know that I am paying to maintain this course and would hope that the fees we pay do not rise because people do not respect another’s property. Also, while I realize that the golf course offers a short route for people needing to get to places, it is a dangerous venture especially for those who are not paying attention and may get hit with golf balls, which, I am sorry to say, I have done.

There are risks to living on a golf course. These should have been pointed out to those who bought property or who are renting. There will be stray balls, but then again that is a price for the view of a beautifully landscaped golf course. We have had balls land in our backyard and pool, but we knew this when we brought our condo. I have never seen a golf course afford the leniency for people and pets as this one has. I commend them for this. They have been trying to make this work for everyone. I think it is time for us to help also.

We need to put the shoe on the other foot and see this issue from their side. Would you want people invading your space and leaving you with the cleanup? How long would that last?

Signed/Linda Williams

What about caleta access?

Dear Editor:

I allow myself this email because there are points to discuss regarding the Caleta access. I wanted to go last Sunday, March 22 around 12:15, but the guard would not let me pass in my golf car. So I went there by foot, and as usual, there were cars parked in front of the access to the Caleta. Therefore, as a resident of Puerto Aventuras, why do I have to go there by foot and apparently non-resident families can get there by car? Am I missing something?

Why is access to the Caleta gated? Knowing that access to Phase 4 is prohibited during working hours, which is quite normal for security reasons, why not allow access to the caleta on Saturday and Sunday afternoon? I hope you can answer my questions.

Best Regards,

Signed/Valerie B.

(Ed.Note: All of Phase 4 remains private property of the developer, including the roads, until such time as the roads are deeded to the Colonos and become public. The developer, by his own good graces, has allowed access to Phase 4 to walkers and bikers and had banned cars and cart traffic because of abuses to the caleta area by occupants of some of those vehicles. If some cars are being allowed, only the individual guard would be able to say why some are favored on his watch and not others. Perhaps this could be investigated by the developer. As to the new gate at the caleta entrance, that is the private property of an owner who is preparing to build there. Access to the caleta has become more adventuresome using the nicely prepared paths through the conservation area. The paths are wide enough to accommodate walking a bicycle, or lock the bicycle at one of the two shady palapa entrances.}

RC paramedics offer advice in Akumal

Dear Editor:
   Here is the latest update from the Red Cross regarding the Akumal Ambulance activity over the last 2 months. The paramedics have treated 27 emergencies, including a number of serious injuries, several near drownings, and sadly, 2 deaths by drowning. 

I attended the opening of the annual Red Cross collection month last week, and I spoke to the paramedics who have been working in Akumal. They gave me some really important feedback relating to our policies on how the snorkel tours are run.  They referred to the man who died last week in Akumal Bay. 

He was a 77 year old man who was on a snorkel tour. He had had 2 heart attacks previously, but was not questioned about his physical well-being prior to being taken on the tour.   He had a third heart attack while in the water, and the paramedics tell me that the snorkel guide, who was guiding a very large group, did not actually notice that the man was in trouble until it was much too late. The paramedics and life guards tried to resuscitate the man on the beach, but too much time had passed and there was nothing that they could do.

The paramedics suggest that there should be some sort of medical screening process prior to snorkel tour participants entering the water in the same way that divers are asked to complete a brief medical questionnaire.  If any health risks are flagged in the questionnaire, then the snorkel tour participant should be asked to seek medical advice prior to entering the water.   The client may be upset that they cannot snorkel on their chosen day, but in the event of a medical complication, the chance of survival is much higher on the shore.  This is very important, and the responsibility of the community of Akumal, to look after the safety and well-being of visitors.

The second point that they raised is the size of the tour groups.  How many snorkelers can one guide safely monitor while in the water? Would a life have been saved last week if the group was smaller and the guide was able to spot the problem and start the rescue process more quickly?

But to end on a positive note, the Red Cross paramedics have been able to successfully help 25 people over the last 8 weeks, which brings us to almost 50 medical emergencies attended in the last 3 months.  We also have a newer ambulance stationed in Akumal further improving paramedic response times.   With spring break here, and Semana Santa on the way, I’m sure that you’ll agree that we need the Akumal Ambulance in place now more than ever.

We are continuing to fund-raise for the paramedics’ salaries and ambulance running costs, and to ensure that we can keep this service in our community. Plaza Ukana very generously donates accommodations for the paramedics at night time to ensure that they are centrally located at all times.   The Akumal Comedy Festival (April 14-18, 2015) is the next large fundraiser event.  100% of the proceeds from the Festival will go directly to the Red Cross and the money from the Akumal shows will be used to pay for the Akumal Ambulance.    Despite the fund-raising efforts, there is still nowhere near enough money coming in from our community to pay for the ambulance.  The money being used to pay for the Akumal ambulance at the moment is money that has been raised through Tulum.

If you would like to support the ambulance project by way of a donation, you can do so via Paypal or with your credit card.   This goes directly to the Tulum Red Cross PayPal account and the donation is labelled "Akumal Ambulance"  https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=ZAAD79BPGYG4U

Please contact the Red Cross directly for donating by bnk:Cruz Roja Tulum – Lic. Verónica Madrid Pérez   admontulum@live.com.mx  984 151 7553 / 984 176 1217

Signed/Marieke Brown

 

Nature Watch…

Sargassum invasion unwelcomed,

but it has its helpful benefits 

   The Riviera Maya has seen massive amounts of Sargassum washing up on its white, sandy beaches over the past few months. Significant amounts of the algae have been reported across the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico this year. Workers along the beaches here in Puerto Aventuras have been working unusually long hours trying to keep ahead of the near daily arrival of new algae. It seems uncertain how much longer the Sargassum will continue to find the beaches of the Riviera Maya.

This leafy brown algae floats in the open ocean and moves by ocean currents and winds. Clumps of it gravitate toward more temperate, tropical waters and into shallower waters like coral reefs. The name comes from Portuguese sailors calling it salgazo, a small grape, with reference to the grape-like, gas-filled berries that keep the algae afloat and promote photosynthesis. It is also known as sea holly. Sargassum is found mostly in the Atlantic Ocean and is highly concentrated in the Sargasso Sea, a 1.5-million-square-mile circle of ocean filled with large areas of the free-floating algae.

It may provide a small attitude boost to Puerto Aventuras beachgoers these days by knowing some of its benefits. These large drifts of Sargassum provide habitat for a large variety of marine life, offering shelter, food, and survival. Numerous young fish as well as turtles, eels, crabs, shrimps and various invertebrates find a safe haven in these floating islands.

And if you like catching one of those large gamefish here in Puerto, it may help to know that with the presence of all of these young fish in one location, large game fish often hover around, awaiting their shot at the young prey. Other benefits include gathering it after it finds its way to the shoreline and using it as a nutrient-rich fertilizer and compost. In other areas, it has been left in place to prevent beach erosion and promote beach restoration. Knowing these benefits may help some see the sargassum with a little less sarcasm!. (Story and Photo by Gayle Sandholm)

Local turkeys “near threatened”

from loss of habitat and hunting

  

   By Staff
   During a recent recreational conversation, the topic of birding worked its way into the debate when one person asked if there was a bird indigenous to the Yucatan, as opposed to transients from elsewhere.

There is and it’s called the “ocellated turkey.” First things first. “Ocellated” refers to the “ocelus”, a simple eye in invertebrates, but, where some turkeys are involved, to the eye-like markings on their tail feathers, therefore, ocellated turkey.

The males weigh an average 11 – 16 pounds, and females about 7 pounds, which, along with the “eyespots”on their tail feathers, separate this indigenous Yucatan specie from is bigger northern cousin, the wild turkey, which also makes itself at home in small northern cities as well as forests.

The ocellated turkey is found in all the Yucatan’s roughly 50,000 square miles that includes northern Belize and Guatemala. Not much distinguishes the ocellated turkey from the wild relative up north. Neither is it closely affiliated with any major historic event as the wild turkey’s relationship with the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. They just spend most of their time on the ground foraging and will run, rather than fly, away from perceived danger, though they fly well for short distances, using their wings to fly up into high trees to roost.

Almost everybody knows what a turkey looks like, but to differentiate, the ocellated bird has a blue head and a mix of bronze and iridescent green body feathers. It can’t be mistaken for another bird. The female lays 8 to 15 eggs in a concealed ground nest and after birth the birds travel in families and prefer to remain out of sight. Nonetheless, it is a “near threatened species” as the result of habitat loss and hunting.

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