A busy New Year for Puerto but will projects come to fruition?
As another year draws to its conclusion, it is time once again to reflect on what’s happened in Puerto de la Cruz during the last 12 months, what improvements have been made, what projects completed, what promises delivered on, a measure, if you like, of how our Ayuntamiento has performed.
Only this year my article is a bit different, this year for fear of having too little to cheer about, I am going to visit the projects much talked about and publicised, which for whatever reason have still to come to fruition.
So many to choose from, I am spoiled for choice, but I suppose I should start with what I call the ‘big three’, the projects, to be polite, for which there is the most consternation amongst residents and visitors alike. Of course, I am referring to the new bus station, the Muelle, and the municipal swimming pool.
I would hope our councillors are suitably embarrassed, but suspect they are too thick skinned, over the continual delays to the bus station. It was an election pledge, our newly elected mayor, in 2015, made an early visit to Madrid to sort out the problems once and for all, or so he said.
Since then, there have been numerous announcements and promises, tweaks to the design which have seen the budget escalate, and ownership of the plot of land has been disputed and then resolved too many times to mention.
So is there any likelihood of a breakthrough? I think so, in fact I thought it had already happened, in June consent was given for the plot of land to be used. Since then I am told that the project has gone to tender, which probably means a construction company has been waiting in the wings for all the red tape to be unravelled. Our mayor did say the construction would begin in December, whilst the president of Cabildo, the man holding the purse strings, plumped instead for January.
I am going to throw caution to the wind, stick my neck out and say I am confident that work will begin in 2018. However, I am less confident of when it will be finished. Will our local politicians, when they next go to the polls in May 2019, be able to tick their manifesto box and say job well done?
More importantly, when the dust has finally settled on the site, is there not a danger that everyone will be disappointed with the end result. After all it is only going to have a ticket office, a cafe/ bar and some-where to wait for the bus, all of which they have now, the only difference is there won’t be traffic driving through it, or at least that is the theory. It could all be an anticlimax.
Will there ever be a new Muelle in Puerto de la Cruz? That is the question on everyone’s lips, or is it? I am sure most people think it will never happen. This project has been floating around for years; Puerto was in the running when the decision was made to build a port at Garachico.
In recent years the project has received a resurgence, there have been ever changing new plans and designs, and the addition of an ‘on land’ side of the project, no doubt to make it more attractive to investors.
The project suffered a setback when it was downgraded to a sports marina and fishing port, they tried their best to put a positive spin on it, but did anyone really expect to see cruise ships pulling into Puerto, in their dreams, perhaps. I admit I was taken in by all the hype and good news surrounding the project in the back end of 2016 and early 2017 and was beginning to believe that this project might actually get off the ground. Not in the short term, I hasten to add, I am not that delusional. Now however, with no recent good news, this project seems to have returned to the doldrums.
So having had time to reflect on my moment of madness the Muelle project returns, in my eyes, to the category which includes the completion of the Island Ring Road and the EL Tren project, both of which though they look good on paper, are unlikely to happen any time soon.
As I sit here writing it is two years to the day since the municipal pool closed for good. It is not without some irony that water damage in the pump room signa-lled the final death knell , but let’s be honest a total lack of regular mainte-nance and mis-management must surely be the ca-use. Never mind that we have been two year without a pool, they are going to replace it with, not one, but two pools and there is a project already in the offing. A grandiose scheme as so many of them are , it will no longer be a municipal pool, instead it will be an Aquatic Centre , open air, the budget won’t stretch to a roof, but it does come with the obligatory bar/restaurant complete with its own terrace.
As it is so close to the sea the site theoretically belongs to the Coastal department in Madrid who have given their approval in principle to the new development, as long as they receive the appropriate recompense. Why build the new pool there, it doesn’t need to be on the sea front, it is hardly the best location, but hang on, read the small print of the plans, the ‘Aquatic Centre’ becomes part of the overall Muelle redevelopment, which has effectively given the pool project the kiss of death. Oh well, you can always swim at Mayorazgo.
I have waffled on too long again, so now I am running out of space, this column isn’t worthy of a double page spread, so I’ll just mention 2 more projects out of the many, two which I think are quite important for the town.
Playa Martiánez has been in the project pipeline since 2008, it has been crying out for redevelopment for much longer. The last major beach redevelopment was at Playa Jardin in the 1990’s. It is time this end of Puerto had a decent beach with the facilities most current day tourists expect. At last this year this project has received approval from the Coastal department, the stumbling block for years has been the treatment of the outflow from the barranco.
Now it seems some kind of sluice is to be built, it probably won’t be pretty; we can only hope it is practical. The latest news on the project was that it would be ready to go to tender in November of this year. If this has happened, there is every likelihood the project will commence in 2018, just ten years after it was first mooted, not bad for Puerto.
Puerto has been crying out for a concert sized venue since Parque San Francisco, with its leaking roof, finally closed its doors. There have been rumours and murmurs for a few years now that the building would be demolished and replaced, drawings and concept pictures have been in circulation, but it is only really this year that the project has climbed to the top of the pile. Culture, it seems, is one of the new buzz words in the town hall. News that phase 1 of the project would start this year sort of caught me on the hop, but start it has and all being good it should be completed by April of next year. Phase 1, incidentally, involves the making good of a building two doors away. Now I may be accused of splitting hairs, but to me the project doesn’t really start until they begin knocking down the San Francisco building, which I believe is to be phase 2. So let’s hope that phase 1 finishes on time and that phase 2 starts shortly after, so the project can really get underway.
A lot of old ground covered today, but unfortunately that is typical of Puerto de la Cruz, the town where it pays to have a little patience, nothing happens overnight, but for me the length of time it takes to get things done is not really the problem, it is the mis-information coming from the town hall along that journey. If I were asked to offer them a few words of wisdom it would be something along the lines of: Don’t tell them what you think they want to hear, tell them how it really is. You can’t put a positive spin on everything. Not every situ-ation is a photo opportunity. We all survived before social media.
Rest assured with re-election looming in 2019, 2018 is going to be a busy year for the town hall in Puerto de la Cruz, I look forward to it.
To finish and to put the above projects in their rightful place you only have to look at how long the extension to Jardin Botanico has taken, 30 years under planning and construction and it is still not completed, every other project pales into insignificance by comparison.