Parkland or concrete block
When the Minister of Public Works, Benjamin Colamarco, flanked by President Martin Torrijos , proudly announced the beginning of constru...
When the Minister of Public Works, Benjamin Colamarco, flanked by President Martin Torrijos , proudly announced the beginning of construction of the Cinta Costera (Coastal Strip) in December 2007, he fell into the same trap that realtors lay for purchasers of homes and apartments. He gave a finishing date.
Now we know why realtors do it, they want the sale. But the $189, million Cinta Costera was a fait accompli which means take it or leave it. But perhaps Mr Colamarco was trying to assuage the concerns of the driving public about the upcoming traffic snarls that would plague the voting public during the construction period.
So he said the project would be completed in 540 days. That translated to May of this year.
Skeptics scoffed, but others gave him the benefit of the doubt. After all 2009 is an election year, and the president will be leaving office. What better farewell than unveiling this new city gem?
But last week the completion date was moved to June, and later when President Martin Torrijos planted a tree in the new parkland the date moved to July.
While the young tree was being stuck in the ground, at the other end of Avenida Balboa 97 trees were being chopped down. Others had gone before, and more will follow. How long does it take a palm to grow?
The Minister was right on one thing, traffic snarls.
But what about the 26 hectares of parks and bicycle paths, and places to take the kids to play?
Largely ignored by the hopeful public was “parking for 2000 cars”. That’s a lot of concrete and in the Ministry of Public Works own illustrations, not a tree to hide the parked symbols of Panama’s move away from third world status. (If we ever solve the never ending story of the public transportation problem, with no forecast completion date.)
Andres Abrego, a representative of Humberto Oderbrecht, the company building the strip, said the company would try to complete the project on time and try to stick to the budget.
The time schedule has changed. Stand by for later budget announcements.
The hassle with the Fishing and Yacht Club, which has played dog in the manger to the project, has led to big changes in the original plan, and another contretemps over the parking for the Bern owned Miramar Hotel has led to the construction of a replacement car park, under and above ground.
There are some symbolic trees and park benches grouped near the hotel, but inquiries to the Ministry of Public Works about how many hectares of the finished project will be “green” produced no reply.
In the meantime, near the existing Fishing Club marina, a vast expanse of concrete grows daily.
Neighboring residents, told that they will pay extra taxes to fund this new amenity are asking why they should pay for what in the end appears to be largely a new roads project, to speed the flow of traffic for people who don’t live in the area. Maybe it should be a toll road. More traffic snarls.