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Big projects in the limelight but the rest of Puerto is suffering 

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Is it only me who feels Puerto puts far too much emphasis on major projects, so much so as to have a detrimental effect on the remainder of the town?

I can understand why it’s done. Major projects and improvements to the town are seen as vote getters. Four years is a short enough tenure in which to make your mark, so, of course, they want some heavy hitters.

I am sure the clock is already ticking, the count-down is on, and May 2019 is, in the whole scheme of things, not very far away. Which is why there has been so much recent chatter, giving updates of where the town stands, relatively speaking, with regard to the outstanding projects, of which there are quite a few.

Look back on the election pledges of 2015 and tick those completed off the list, there won’t be many. This is why it is so important to make progress now, why it’s essential for some of these projects to be seen to be underway.

So while all efforts appear to be concentrated on the bigger picture, the fabric of the town crumbles, metaphorically speaking. The streets get dirtier, paving stays cracked, potholes go unfilled, planting in the town’s flowerbeds has to last longer, rubbish collection becomes more sporadic and the pruning of dead fronds from the palms is almost non-existent (never mind they’ll come down when we get a bit of wind).

Of course, I am not talking about the ‘golden kilometre’, calle Quintana and San Telmo are on face value reasonably well maintained, though no longer pristine, but as you work your way out towards the furthest reaches of the town, where a lot of voters live, the level of service deteriorates.

I sympathise with the current occupants of the town hall. They inherited many of the problems, massive debt for one, which, to their credit, has been repaid, not necessarily through choice though, I suspect there was pressure from Madrid (I am sure I read somewhere of underperforming munici-palities coming under threat of being taken into administration, not that that applies in Puerto’s case).

Funding crisis

The problem, as I see it, is nothing much gets done in the town unless it is a capital project, specifically a project with outside funding. Fair enough, it is no secret that the town is cash strapped, but once the project is complete and the cash is spent, the council doesn’t budget to maintain it. The municipal pool is a good example, years of under spending, carrying out repairs only that were essential to keep it going, until the boiler room flooding over two years ago proved to be the death of it. The town will get a new pool, there is a project for it, but like everything else, they’ll have to wait for it.

Another example and a more important one given that the town’s income is generated through tourism, are the Playa Jardin beaches. The area was developed in the early 1990’s and lets been honest it looks like it. It is old and dated, the facilities are tired, and the whole area has that rundown look about it.

Like Playa Martiánez, which hopefully will be improved next year, it is crying out for a makeover, but I suppose while it continued to earn its blue flag status everything was fine.

Not any more. This year Playa Jardin failed to retain its blue flag, but you won’t have seen any announcement about it. Publicity shots were posted of the blue flag being raised over San Telmo, yet nothing was said about Playa Jardin. I would have at the very least expected an explanation for the reason, followed by an action plan of what was going to be improved to ensure the blue flag status be regained next year. The major tourist centre in the north of the island and only one, the smallest, of its beaches has blue flag status, someone should be held accountable.

Furthermore part of the beach, along with Playa Martiánez was recently closed to swimming following heath department water tests. New tests were hurriedly carried out and the affected beaches reopened after 24 hours as the water had returned to accep-table levels.

The message from the town hall implied that as not all the beaches were affected, perhaps there was a problem with the initial tests and confirmed that none of the town’s facilities had discharged wastewater in the sea.

That being the case can someone please explain what happens to the discharge from the sewage treatment plant in Punta Brava? Is it trucked away in tankers? If so, what is that brown scum that comes floating past Punta Brava towards the beaches whenever the wind is in the right direction, or should I say the wrong direction.

 

Town hall

Another example of our dilapidated town, a quick one as I am getting bored with this now, is the state of disrepair of the town hall. What should be the shop window for the town is sadly dull and depressing. What message does it send if, to coin a phrase, they can’t keep their own house in good order, what hope is there for the rest of the town?

Voters have short memories, so it is the here and now and the recent past that leaves the biggest impression, which is why all interested parties, both local and island wide will be busting a gut to get things started. This is not a new thing; there is historical evidence of previous administrations twiddling their thumbs for the first two years of their tenure, revelling in their win perhaps, before going hell for leather to get things done in the second half of their term.

What can we expect from this sudden burst of zeal and new found energy? Let us quickly run through the list of projects and talk about the likelihood of them coming into their own.

Playa Martiánez has been waiting for redevelopment for ten years, but now thanks to Carlos Alonso’s input and involvement, agreement has been reached with Costas and the project should go to tender later in the year. Work on this project should get underway during 2018.

 

Port project

The Muelle project, I think has progressed to the stage where it has become a reality; thanks again are due to Carlos Alonso, who has become a stalwart for Puerto’s stalled projects. Will it get underway before the next elections, I’m not sure, but there will be plenty of talking it up between now and then.

The San Francisco cultural space project has started, albeit in a small way. Phase one, which is basically shoring up adjacent buildings is underway, but after that I suppose it depends on available funds. Still this will be claimed as a success in forthcoming election manifes-tos.

The Municipal swimming pool, a grand scheme with two pools has been planned. This project is pretty much still on the drawing boards and has been linked to the Muelle project so I am not expecting anything to happen soon.

Improvements to the TF312 including a roundabout next to the BelAir building is to be included in Cabildo’s budget for 2018 and will more than likely happen before the next election.

The underground car park at Plaza de Constitucion, very little has been said on the progress of this project. However, some ground tests have been carried out and some pictures of proposed road changes published on social media. It would make sense to implement the road changes in conjunction with the roundabout in the TF312 project, but when has common sense ever prevai-led in Puerto.

 

Bus station

The bus station, a manifesto promise of our present town hall incumbents, surely this will be completely before they return to the polls. Everything has gone very quiet on this one, except the kiosk owners on the site were recently given notice to quit. Is that an indication that work is going to start, who knows, but if this project isn’t completed come May 2019 it should be a big embarrassment?

The redevelopment of the old bus station, This project must be really on the back burner, so I think will be looking at the advertising hoardings for a few more years yet.

The Coastal Path at La Paz, this project which ground to a halt over differences with the contractors is now ready to go back out to tender to complete it, Realistically this project should become another feather in the town hall’s cap.

I have probably missed some projects out and am sure some mini projects will occur before the next election to help bolster the ‘Look what we have achieved’ claims, but will they be enough?

Time for a break.