Loiza Leaders Demand Greater Awareness By Government
By Raquel Velazquez
June 12, 2002
The Loiza Leaders Alliance for the Sustainable Development of Loiza-Piñones urged the Planning Board and Environmental Quality Board to recognize the demands of their community and commit to a course of action for the Costa Serena tourism project.
"Progress is not just in hotels, but schools, hospitals, transportation, and communications, and our community needs the support of the government to enhance our quality of life," said Alliance Vice President Miguelina Paulino in press conference Wednesday.
As a result of the submission of the East Region Committee and the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources report acknowledging the viability of the tourism project and requesting the Houses final approval of Resolution 747, signaling the governments first step in fostering progress for this forgotten region, the alliance leaders are urging both agencies to commit to a course of action, "within the parameters of sustainable development to conserve the natural resources and promote community participation."
"The essence of Loiza is its people, not its infrastructure. However, adequate infrastructure is necessary to improve the quality of life for this community," said Paulino of the second poorest municipality with an unemployment rate of 27%.
Costa Serena is a $223.5 million tourism development project that will utilize 51 of the 10,000 acres in the Vacia Talegas Piñones sector owned by developer Joel Katz and his firm PFZ Properties Inc. and will be sensitive to the socio-cultural, ecological, and environmental integrity of this region.
The community leaders are grateful for the investigation conducted by the House committee for this long-awaited development project, not only for its respect of the areas natural resources, but also for the direct economic impact it would have for the 15,000 and 2,300 residents of Loiza and Piñones, respectively.
The community-based organization expressed their gratitude announcing their delivery of a letter in appreciation to House Speaker Carlos Vizcarrondo for his efforts and those of the East Region Committee and the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources in acknowledging the viability of the tourism project.
"We want to put Loiza in the vanguard in the tourism arena," Paulino said, "We are asking the government, in which we have placed our trust and to whom we have given our vote, to extend us the tools to be competitive and not allow Loiza to disappear."
This Piñones development project would be most advantageous in terms of fostering small business creation such as entertainment venues, water sports, souvenir shops, and restaurants, the group explained. But above all, it would facilitate employment opportunities for residents during the construction of the project and while in full operation.