Costambar Community Forum

Costambar is a beach community located in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.
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Posts : 84
Join date : 2009-04-06
Age : 81
Location : #50 Paseo de la Laguna



Contrary to some beliefs and expectations, the Unity Group is not defunct or gone into permanent hibernation. Quite the contrary; Unity remains alive, active and well informed, all for the benefit of Costambar and its residents.

President Aggarwal – on his July 20th 2012 report - went into some questionable details about the financial condition of APC at the midpoint of 2012. He commented about APC’s precarious financial position and reported a RD$ 200,000 shortfall compared to 2011, which he squarely blamed upon “several members of APC who were either candidates on the Unity Slate for the 2012 elections or their sympathizers”. This allegation is pure and simple “bunk”, since as usual, what president Aggarwal has done is to spin the facts to make some believe if all is not well in Costambar, it is obviously due to his opposition. Nice try, but not a factual one. “The facts” are that most members are paying; the only Unity members that are in arrears are Robert Curtis (who owes exactly RD$ 7,500), Rafael Belliard (who is paying fully for one of his two Costambar properties but not for the other, and owes RD$ 6,755) and Beatrice Angermann (who is only a couple of months in arrears) for a grand total of less than RD$ 17,000. Don Docker, Liana Swerdlin, Jack Cameron, Pat Kruchten and Ann Walsh are all current in their payments. Colin Oliver is not reachable, but remember he is owed RD$ 20,000 by Aggarwal, from the “Transformergate Affair” (when Aggarwal sold a transformer belonging to Laura Marcelle Condominiums without their permission), money that Aggarwal has never repaid to them. These figures underscore the ridiculousness of Aggarwal’s charge that APC has been put in a precarious position by non-paying Unity members. It is simply a ruse to shift blame and make readers believe “Unity is the problem”. If there has been a drop in APC collections, the causes must be found in the fact many people rushed to pay at the beginning of the year, so as to be eligible to vote at the February 7th 2012 elections and stopped doing so out of disgust with how they were conducted and his one man management style.
President Aggarwal lists APC revenues but as usual, fails to disclose financial liabilities and obligations, such as:
- A debt to the Puerto Plata Ayuntamiento that has added RD$ 20,000 a month in non-payment for nearly 2 years, for the use of the municipal dump, now estimated as being close to RD$ 420,000 . More about that below.
- Another contractual debt is to Mr. Mark Gill for non-payment of rent for the old APC Office locale. Its actual amount is unknown, but Mr. Gill would certainly know it.
- The added expense of a full time APC attorney at RD$ 15,000/month, allegedly to work only on collecting from those in arrears. If one stops to consider this hair-brained idea, it becomes clear it will cost APC not less than RD$ 180,000 a year. To collect what? How much? Or…. is the attorney also working on Mr. Aggarwal’s mounting legal problems while ostensibly working on APC matters? Many Costambar residents signed a petition this spring, for APC to disclose an itemized breakdown of legal fees paid out in the last 2 years, to whom and for what sort of legal work. To date, no reply has been received. See below.

Once one reconciles all these figures, the conclusion APC is basically in the red – and not “in a sound financial position” - is inescapable. No mention is made about the 200 palm trees planted last spring for beautification that cost RD$ 40,000; monies which could have been put to better use.

Regarding the ongoing case in the Puerto Plata Civil Court (filed by Docker & Belliard on behalf of the Unity Slate) requesting the annulment of the February 7th. 2012 elections on the grounds of its many irregularities, readers will remember that right after the first hearing was held, Aggarwal stated “the judge threw out the case”. If that was true, why is the case still ongoing? He also claims court delays in rendering a decision can be blamed upon Unity failing to submit documents in a timely fashion. In fact, he (not Unity) was the one who petitioned the court for a last minute extension at the June 13th 2012 hearing, in order to submit documents he should have submitted long before. As is his custom, he also pronounced our case “dead on arrival for the Plaintiff’s failure to support its allegations”. Lastly, he implies APC is spending money to defend these charges, but fails to admit the highly irregular manner in which the elections were conducted was the cause for this filing. Had he obeyed the Dominican Republic laws and followed Costambar’s published electoral rules, this would have never happened. When Aggarwal was legally elected to office in 2010, many current Unity members wholeheartedly supported him and even served on his Board. That entire situation changed through his 2 years in office and with the many irregularities committed during the 2012 electoral process, reason why all of our members refused to serve under him, under any circumstances. In any case, the Puerto Plata Civil Court is about to render a final opinion on this case. Stay tuned for ”the facts”, which will be reported to you as soon as available, irrespective of which side “wins”.
If he is so concerned with APC squandering money on legal matters, why did he choose to frivolously sue two Costambar residents (Robert Curtis and David Rentzel), for just having spoken the truth and/or point out some of his questionable doings? Cases that were basically dismissed for lack of any sustainable evidence on his part, but cost APC and those individuals their own money to defend themselves.

The Gonzalo Bustos case comes next and Aggarwal goes on to chastise those that have attended such hearings, as if doing so was against the law. His “law” that is, for such hearings are open to the public in the DR and most free countries. Even though Unity has no dog in this fight, it is interesting to follow his thread as to “how stupid and meaningless this case is”, if only to recognize that is his standard position on any legal case brought on by any other person but himself. Do not lose sight of the fact this is a criminal – not a civil - offense and he stands convicted until a higher court overrules the lower court.
Mr. Aggarwal alone negotiated a contract with the Ayuntamiento (without the participation of or discussion with his existing 2010-2012 Board), in which he agreed to pay RD$ 40,000/month for the rights to deposit refuse at the local municipal dump in Maggiolo, which in fact, is the entire amount the Ayuntamiento pays the owners of the land where the dump is located, for the rights to dump all the garbage generated by the entire Puerto Plata metropolitan area. In other words, he agreed to Costambar footing the entire garbage dumping bill for the Puerto Plata metropolitan area!! The contract also called for the Ayuntamiento to aid APC in prosecuting Costambar residents in arrears, but that never materialized. Then, instead of renegotiating the so-called contract, Mr. Aggarwal proceeded to unilaterally cut the monthly payment to the Ayuntamiento in half (or pay only RD$ 20,000 per month). This remaining contractual debt of RD$E 20,000 has accumulated and Unity figures must now be close to some RD$ 420,000; perhaps even more.

Interested parties should be aware of the fact that (responding to complaints) the Puerto Plata Ayuntamiento recently sent some inspectors to Costambar who – as rumors have it - found the project in terrible shape with uncut grass, uncollected garbage and generally unkempt. As result of this, several meetings have been quietly taking place between representatives of the Ayuntamiento, some APC Board members, the Vallarino organization and the Junta de Vecinos. No clear decisions seem to have been taken or come to light yet concerning the result of those talks - but once again – the persistent rumor have it that the Ayuntamiento intends to take over the garbage collection and apportion the maintenance duties to the Vallarino organization, actions that logically lead to the following conclusions:
1- Mr. Aggarwal’s management of Costambar is a dismal failure, has obviously brought the project to near disintegration and generated not only the deepest division among its residents that anyone can ever remember, but an incredible number of legal entanglements of multiple stripes, which is also something unprecedented in this project’s history.
2- Mr. Aggarwal has been a contentious leader whose sand paper management style, personal interests and vendettas take precedence over those of the community of Costambar.
3- The Puerto Plata Ayuntamiento obviously feels it must step in and “straighten out the mess” created by Mr. Aggarwal, for in the end, the Mayor is ultimately responsible for all the municipalities around the Puerto Plata area. Rumor also has it the Mayor will be issuing a written opinion about the Costambar debacle very shortly. If the Ayuntamiento and others take over functions - as maintenance, garbage collection and security - now solely in the realm of APC, what role would be left for APC itself? In fact, its reasons for existence would simply cease to exist. And all thanks to Aggarwal; nobody else. If the Ayuntamiento takes over garbage collection, what is to become of the compacting garbage collection truck APC and donors paid some RD$ 450,000 not so long ago? Will it be sold; and if so, what will become of the proceeds? More palm trees planted? What about the cost of paying APC employees the separation they are entitled to by law? If APC has to be dissolved or liquidated, it will face huge payments of employees separation mandated by law and extra legal fees; in resume, monies that APC does not possess. Will then all of us be “assessed” and donors asked to once again step up to the plate? Ask Aggarwal, for he usually has those answers at his fingertips.
4- Lastly, but not least, Yash Aggarwal has lost the respect of this community and with that, the ability to lead it. The “house of cards” he built around himself is simply imploding. If he cares for Costambar, he ought to simply step down and let others step in, who can truly bring our residents together and work towards a reunited and better community.
Contrary to what Mr. Aggarwal and his camp believe, Unity is not “acting out of resentment for having lost the elections” - a fact being legally contested anyway - but has a vested interest in the improvement of the project and keeping all Costambar residents fully informed as to what really goes on in our little town and behind the scenes, Otherwise you would never know for his “information iron curtain” has worked so well, that even members of his former APC Board (Cameron and Belliard) have yet to receive the minutes of their last (late January 2012) APC Board meeting, in spite of repeated requests to the effect. Also part of this information containment effort is the alleged recent audit of APC financial records published outside the office, which an accountant residing in Costambar has termed as “just a list and not a true audit”. Guess those interested in seeing it and residing abroad, must get on a plane and fly down to Costambar; all in this day and age of electronic communications and thanks to his deliberate “information black-out”.
Go figure.

From the Unity Group

Don Docker
Robert Curtis
Liana Swerdlin
Pat Kruchten
Ann Walsh
Rafael Belliard
Beatriz Angermann
Colin Olliver
Jack Cameron
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