Julio Galindo Answers West End Questions
BY JEFF STRATTON
Unable to stay for the whole thing but here’s what I saw:
As the sun went down, the wind kicked up, and two assistants were called in to keep the screen (above) from being blown over.
Family scions from West End’s past sat in folding chairs with business- and land-owners who live in West End.
The last meeting, Mayor Galindo began, “seemed like a confrontation. Let’s not have that tonight.” Scattered applause. He explained that last time, the municipal wasn’t properly prepared to answer every question but that tonight, each question would get an answer.
To prove that, he used a PowerPoint presentation to show and zoom in on the cadastral surveys for West End.
The individual lots on the cadastrals displayed could be selected to show exactly what each property owner would owe, whether if paid off in a lump sum or spread out over a 10-year span.
“Thirty-three dollars a month,” said Mayor Galindo, telling one resident what his payment would be. “Insignificant, really.” Large property owners would take a bigger hit but most small homeowners with one lot were presented with numbers that weren’t intimidating at all, usually well under $50 a month.
If anything, the mayor used the meeting not to debate the merits of the road, but to make it as palatable as possible for the people paying for it. Straight off the bat, he was clear about his position:
“My father and my wife were born down here,” he said of West End. “I’ve made my mind up. I would like to pave this road. If I don’t do it, it ain’t gonna get done. And if we don’t do it now, in the future it would be practically impossible.”
The mayor addressed critics who’ve alleged that the road paving is politically motivated. “There’s no politics at all. I love my island,” he told the crowd. Explaining that he draws no salary as mayor, he added, “I’ve never gone to the U.S. or to Tegucigalpa as mayor, and I’ve never charged the municipal for a meal or a hotel room.”
There was a moment of humor when someone asked the mayor if the road would be stamped and if it could be colored.
“Yes,” he answered, “we can make it any color you want.”
“No,” said a man in the audience, “you can’t make it blue.”
“We want it gold!” someone joked, but a guy in front of me grumbled, “For those prices, it should be gold.”
It was then, about a half hour or so in, that a main backer of the petition against the West End road (Caroline Power) left in what appeared to be disgust. The paved road did seem like a foregone conclusion at that point — it was like the meal was over, coffee’d been served, and all there was to do was figure out what everyone’s share of the check would be.
Even that became cloudier when it was revealed that the lempira/dollar amounts told to the landowners didn’t include the interest rates charged by the banks loaning money for the project.
Those rates, according to mayor Galindo: 9 percent if paid off in 10 years, 12 percent if paid off in 15. “You can’t get money for free,” he said. “I wish it could be three percent.”
“So, if we finance it, that [the original figures quoted] won’t be our monthly payment,” someone pointed out, adding that people opting to finance would end up paying almost double the initial estimate.
That prompted another resident to ask what would happen if he sold his property, or a portion of his property — and someone else asked if the outstanding debt could mean a lien could be placed on his property.
“I’m not going to put a lien against you,” the mayor said, “but I don’t know what the bank is going to ask you for.”
With that, it was time to bail and pop in on Quiz Night next door. If anyone has additional anecdotes from the tail-end of the meeting, please share them.
This is clear: wake up today to find the Roatan Reality chat group flaming like a cross-dresser at a pride festival. Some of the smoke lingering around the hills today must be from all the name-calling.
Maybe Caroline can take some solace in this comment from the Facebook page called No West End Road :
“like-minded anti-progress simpletons” When you start to get labels like this from a poster on RoatanReality, you can be pretty sure you’ve won the argument!