The announcement of a road crossing the island from Brick Bay to Marbella on the north side of the island comes as somewhat of a surprise. “Dale [Jackson] brought it up at a Municipal Corporation meeting some time ago. We answered that we couldn’t get involved without him getting an environmental license,” said Mayor Julio Galindo. “A road of that category surpasses the capacity of the Municipality.”
“I did bring up the issue. But when Julio mentioned permits I went quiet. I don’t think I need to get permits for a private road,” said the ex-mayor. Dale Jackson is involved in a development and selling of lots on his father’s property that is accessed by the road. “There was a small road there from the 1990s, so I don’t think we needed permits,” said Marcus Nelson, a city council member, who with his family owes land on the north side of the island, and who organized construction of the road.
Who knew permits were needed for such a road were environmental groups including ZOLITUR’s technical division, which is concerned that the road has been built on the site of an important watershed. “In April of 2010 we understood that many trees were cut down for this road. We informed the fiscalia, but unfortunately the system failed,” said Sotero Medina Castro, Zolitur’s Techinal Director.
An assessment of the environmental situation and possible plan on how to stabilize the new dirt road is being worked on by SINEA (Sistema Nacional de Evalauacion Ambiental), a coalition of Roatan’s environmental groups: Municipal Environmentl Unit, BICA, Roatan Marine Park and ZOLITUR.
Whether the road was built with or without permits, many north island property owners would love a well-built road traversing the island. “That road will be great for Palmetto, for bringing people from the airport. Right now we drive through the dump or over hills,” says Gary Chamer, owner of Palmetto Bay Plantation, a resort that would benefit from the road. Chamer says that Palmetto Bay Plantation homeowners association gave around $3,000 when Jackson and Marcus Nelson asked for help in paying for fuel for the bulldozers building the road. Turtling Bay and Marbella developments gave money as well.
“It’s one of the last undeveloped areas on the West End. We would greatly benefit from this road,” said Scott Williams, one of the owners of Turtling Bay, which contributed $4,000 towards the construction of the road.
Currently even the mayor seems to be on board with the project. “When I found out that the road was already built, I thought that not getting involved [as a Municipality] would do more damage to the environment,” said Mayor Galindo. Now Galindo says that it’s important to try to stabilize the road before the rainy season and eminent runoff that would damage the reef. “It would only take $25,000 for the municipality to built culverts and do finishing work,” said Jackson.