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Does Puerto de la Cruz really have to change? 

PAGE 21 a puerto point of  view

To be honest I am beginning to get bored with Puerto de la Cruz. The town where very little ever seems to change and even when change does occur it takes such a long time.

Although to be fair when I first started coming to the town on holiday that was one of its main attractions. After finding my way around initially, each time I returned I knew exactly what to expect, there were never any surprises to invade my comfort zone.

I first came to Puerto de la Cruz in 1985, since when the only two major changes to the town have been the construction of the sea wall and the development of Playa Jardin, both of which happened a long time ago. Since then, everything else has been largely cosmetic.

Ok, the pedestrian ways have made it easier to walk around, but on the flip-side it is more difficult to park, for some that is. Not me, I still have full use of my limbs and can walk further than the few yards from house to car so I always park in the Muelle car park, where there is plenty of room and glare at the car park touts as I walk away (something else that hasn’t changed; only now they are more aggressive and selective on whom they target).

So, all this talk in recent years of the need for Puerto to re-invent itself, of the need for the town to redevelop and adapt itself, to upgrade to take account of people’s changing expectations, it all leaves me a bit confused.

Do people expect more of Puerto de la Cruz now than they did say 30 years ago when Puerto was probably at its peak, or is the whole idea just marketing speak? I never had high expectations of the town. Guess what, I was never disappointed. I might moan about it, but I never complain. (The dictionary definitions may list them as one of the same, but to me they are quite different)

As a result of this new level of expectation many of the town’s hotels have undergone refurbishment. To bring them into the 21st century it has been suggested. Some works have been extensive while others have been more modest, little more than a lick of paint and a bit of spit and polish. Hotels that had previously been moth-balled have been brought back into service to accommodate the recent rise in tourist numbers.

So has the town turned the corner? The hotels have played their part, but what about the rest of the town? The town where change comes at its own pace, it’s getting there, but not fast enough. Emerging markets put pay to Puerto’s golden days; re-emerging markets could well put a dent in the town’s recent resurgence if they do not react quickly enough.

Flights to Tenerife are more expensive this year, hotel costs are up (someone has to pay for the refurbishments) and tourist numbers for Puerto de la Cruz are down by 5621 (4.4%) when compared to last year. It will be interesting to see how the rest of 2018 pans out.

I started by saying I was bored with Puerto and then went off on a bit of a tangent without explaining why. I think it is because of the lack of activity on Puerto’s projects (the major ones) leaves me little to really whinge about. Oh, there are projects on-going that are probably worthy in their own right, but they are projects that I can’t quite seem to get excited about, at least not at the moment. I am sure I’ve mentioned them all before so I will be as brief as possible; I wouldn’t want to bore you all to tears, that’s if anyone is reading this, I often wonder.

The redevelopment of Parque San Francisco. Great project, years overdue like so many others. Puerto has been crying out for a concert sized venue. Once the building is completed it will seat 750, but demolition and rebuilding is phase 2 of the project. Phase 1 started last year, which is the restoration of an adjoining house which will become part of the overall site. There is no start date for phase 2. Completion of the project is still years away.

The restoration of Casa Tolosa in San Antonio. This is a lovely old house in danger of falling down and one with some history as it was once home to the town’s first publically elected Mayor. A worthwhile project which will eventually become a ‘cultural’ space, but I not sure there are not more pressing needs that should have come before it. Still, again this project is in phase 1, consolidation, basically ensuring what remains of the original features doesn’t deteriorate any further, and perhaps getting rid of the graffiti. Another project which is going to take a while before the town gets any use from the building.

The Coastal Path through La Paz. The second attempt at completing this one after irresolvable differences with the original construction company. I couldn’t get excited about this one the first time and am even less so this time around and whoever dubbed it the ‘coastal path’ need a geography lesson.

This project is even more annoying as there is no access it, so you can’t see what progress is being made, they could be sitting around all day and no one would be any the wiser. This was a well used path and one that did not really need such major investment, however, the project has coincided with the refurbishment of a hotel the path crosses, which could have had some influence on the decision.

The Martiánez tunnel. Not really a project, more like road improvements, the plan is to install street lighting, improve the footpath (the real coastal path), and tart up the tunnel. The road, the gateway to Puerto de la Cruz, the one road signs from the TF5 send you down, has been closed to inbound traffic since November. Great for first time visitors, still, of course, the diversions that are in place are clearly signposted. Another project where you can’t see much progress being made, not even with binoculars, I’m kidding, I am not that interested.

So that’s about it. But what about the major projects, the ones which could have some real impact on the town, the new Muelle, the swimming pool, playa Martiánez, Hotel Taoro, and the bus station, they are all sitting in the pending file, further action still required. Although, hot of the press, rumour has it, the work starts on the bus station on 9th April 2018. (I have included the year for the benefit of all the cynics out there) The first time an actual date has been announced so it could actually happen.

Before I go, there is just one more project I would like to mention. Not the Playa Jardin loos, they are getting around to doing them, but too late I assume to regain blue flag status for this year. No, what I wanted to talk about is the ‘kiosk’ at San Telmo, which is a polite name for the ‘concrete bunker’ that was once the beach bar.

Last year a project was raised for its refurbishment or replacement, but since then there has not been a word. Of course, this building should really have formed part of the San Telmo makeover completed a few years ago, but it wasn’t. Since then it has become the elephant in the room, everybody knows it’s there, but are choosing to ignore it. Now, if there ever was a project that the town could complete on its own without running to Cabildo, this must surely be the one.

What it needs during phase 1 (as everything seems to have phases now) is for it to be demolished. A simple task, one I am sure that a couple of the council workmen could accomplice with a sledge hammer and a shovel and in a relatively short amount of time. Hang on though, it will need more than two, it will need someone with a broom and a couple of men with wheelbarrows and they’ll need a supervisor.

They won’t be able to start before the architect and the structural engineer says so. Then of course, the councillor for Works will want to take lots of photos for social media, and perhaps Urbanisation will want in, and then seeing as it is in San Telmo the mayor will want to make an appearance and Tourism will tag along.

And finally, because it is close to the sea, the Coastal department of central government in Madrid will need to give their permission before anything is done. I have just had a revelation! No wonder it takes so long to get anything done in Puerto de la Cruz.