From City Hall to A Museum

By
Updated: April 24, 2017

Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley has plans to relocate the city council to the old Commercial Building in downtown Belize City. The plan was announced back in August 2014 but more than two years has passed and the old commercial building has yet to be renovated. Bradley explained what the delay is.

DARRELL BRADLEY

“We have the project fully installed we have the contracts already executed we have everything in place the problem is just the financing, the project would have cost the council approximately $2.5 million dollars to do an entire gut job and renovation for the commercial center so that that would be the new city hall facility. That building is a very strong building in terms of the structure but inside the building it wasn’t suitable for working accommodations. You would have noticed too that one of the things that the city council has currently is that we have a problem with our space, we had the area right adjacent to this complex next door but the condition with that in relation to mold and mice so that what we had to do is shut down that facility and we are now renting the lower flat of the Sagicor building right close by to house our human resources staff because that building is not fit for workers to be in. Likewise the commercial center we had several leading up to the closure of the building we had two staff members who slipped and were injured, we had several injuries from people who visited the building on the staircase, the elevator didn’t work, the bathroom facilities were in a very atrocious condition from the point of view when the plumbing didn’t work so many times we had to send home staff because there was no water in the bathroom and when I did an expectation towards the close date of the closure I made a remark that the bathrooms were in a condition that I wouldn’t expect any worker to use it and there is a certain urgency for us to renovate that building simply because the city council staff has expanded we took over the BML staff all of those people are people who are field workers but we’ve have to have additional HR and administrative staff to accommodate that but our space has not increased. We are renting the lower flat of Sagicor we are also renting premises in the Mona Lisa Building so we are paying a lot of money in rent because we can’t get this project off the ground in terms of securing the funding for it. We have a pending bank loan request, a significant amount of the funding was to come from a financial institution they have been reviewing that for some time but it actually cost us because we need the space and these are not one of the things that the city council is  that we passed our municipal services regulation and one of the things that that does is that that puts in very strong requirements for occupational health and safety so that we are required to provide a safe place of work that is one of the reasons why we had to shut down our human resource premises and we had to rent additional premises .We also have had to relocate several departments from the commercial center even before it was closed down because the areas couldn’t be used. A lot of that space is considered dead space in the sense that we would only use it for storage and that is not very financially sensible for us simply because we need more office space; the city council growing. This is a growing city we are discharging greater functions I think that we’ve improved in terms of capacities we’ve added several engineers to the council we’ve created a flood mitigation unit, we’ve had several additions in terms of personnel and other areas but we still have the same finite space and it is coming to a point where it is really difficult for us to carry on normal operations. Even when we had the situation with people paying property taxes at the start of this year having them come into our facility it was too small you had a line all the way across the street because people could not access the small office space and that is something that we have recognized from a long point that we need to improve our services, that we need space that is comfortable for our staff and that will allow us to deliver high class quality service to residents of Belize City.”

LOCAL REPORTER

“So there is no timeline as to when the project will actually start.”

DARRELL BRADLEY

“Actually we have had meeting on this, I think we’ve had meetings on a weekly basis. Our director of finance can tell you the amount of texts and emails that I’ve sent in relation to the status of the financing for this because it’s becoming a very dire situation for the Belize City Council and one of the frank positions is that it actually costs the council because now we are paying rent and we are paying rent in the downtown area for office space to our needs is not cheap. The Sagicor building is a very nice building, our staff is very comfortable there it is a great improvement from what they had before but it’s expensive so that we would prefer rather than paying rent to be servicing the finances so that we are paying rent on that facility and we are also paying rent on the Mona Lisa facility combined that would have been a significant amount towards the monthly capitalization for this loan.”

According to Mayor Bradley, after the city council relocates the current city hall building will be transformed into a museum.