Pave It? Leave It? Fix It? West End Road Dilema

May 1st, 2008
by George S. Crimmin

[private] v6-5-Speaking OutA few columns ago, I briefly mentioned the main road in West End, and how I felt there was a conspiracy as to why it was left to deteriorate to the point of being unusable. As it turns out, my instincts were apparently correct. Sources inform me that this was done in an effort by the powers that be, to force us into accepting paving as an only option. Are we really that gullible?

A decade ago the local municipal government tried to pave this very road and many of us opposed it successfully. We were promised after that fiasco, that paving would no longer be considered. In view of current developments, I could have just as well labeled this column; Roadway Double-Cross. It is probably significant to note that one of the leading advocates for paving back then, is presently a ranking member of the Roatan Municipal Board. Paved roads are for cars, not people.

Since tourism has exploded in the Bay Islands, one of the principal attractions of my hometown, West End, has been its dirt-road. Survey after survey has confirmed this fact. West End, as is much of Roatan these days, is dependant on tourism for its economic survival. People come here to dive, swim, fish, snorkel, relax on our pristine beaches, and get sand between their toes. Do they want to walk around barefoot on hot pavement?

Our current leaders can only fathom their own narrow personal interests. Our current array of public officials are so self-absorbed that they have neither the time nor the talent for solving people’s problems. Perhaps they haven’t noticed that the general public’s lack of respect toward them is only exceeded by outright contempt for this sorry collection of self-indulgent misfits.

I am personally very disappointed by the actions of some of the members of the West End Town Council. I had thought that they were smarter, certainly with better common sense than what has been demonstrated so far. Then again, this body does not seem to be totally independent. It appears to be beholding to a prominent member of the Roatan City Council. As we used to say back in the `ole days’ things are getting “curiouser and curiouser”.

Some of us have always maintained that we do not want to become a replica of Coxen Hole. How many visitors aspire to spend their vacations there? Coxen hole has become nothing more than a facsimile of a mainland town. If people want to visit such a place, they can always travel to the mainland. Is this what we aspire to? This is certainly what paving will produce. West End has its own unique identity, and its main dirt-road is central to that identity.

Once the road is paved, our peculiarity ends. We become like everyone else. Repeated surveys have also conformed this! I believe it is a tragedy that so many of those who know what’s best for West End, are driving taxi cabs, digging ditches, mopping floors, or chronically unemployed. Our main road needs repair, but paving is not the answer.

Before this road is paved however, these are a few questions that need to be answered. Who did the environmental impact study? Is the company reputable? Can we rely on their conclusions? Were they bribed to produce a favorable report? And last, but not least, who stands to profit most from this process/ and while we’re asking questions, why would anyone with a minimum degree of common sense want to forever destroy a community in this fashion? One has to wonder about motives. It is because of greed? Financial gain? Envy? Stupidity? Adlai Stevenson, American politician and diplomat (1900-1965) wrote: “there is nothing more horrifying than stupidity in action”. That old proverb, “in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is King”, certainly seems to apply in this instance.

I am also reminded of the classic metaphor of crabs in a bucket. If you place one crab in a bucket it will eventually climb out. But if you put a bunch of crabs in the same bucket, none will get out, because as soon as one crab gets near the top the others will grab it and pull it back. Could this metaphor be applicable here? You know, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if it could. In the meantime, what to do about the road? No matter what we do, will not last without proper drainage. I am not an engineer, but common sense dictates that if there’s no place for water to go, it will settle at its lowest point; which happens to be in the center of the road. Of course common sense is not endemic to Roatan, particularly West End. West End is considered a Mecca for foreign businesses. Europeans, North Americans and Latin Americans have all converged here. Dive shops, restaurants, gift shops, and hotels are among the many foreign interests. Foreign interests I might add, that contribute little or nothing to the upkeep of the community. How about giving something back for a change, instead of just taking? Some parts of the road are worse than others, as a direct result of the practices of these establishments. Are you telling me that these businesses can not afford to contribute to a few truck loads of sand once in a while to repair the road? Just taking and taking without giving something back is totally unacceptable. Voluntary action is always preferred, but if not, forced compliance is always an option. Sometimes drastic measures are needed to resolve drastic situations. [/private]

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