|Thursday, February 25, 2021
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Promises for Puerto but when can we expect firm dates? 

I have no plan for this month, that is to say I have no topic, not a major one anyway, so I’m afraid it will have to be a case of just start writing and see where it takes me. I’ll start on a positive note for a change, a first for me I’m sure, just don’t get used to it, sometimes even I am obliged to give credit where it’s due.  I don’t know why it is, I find it difficult writing praise, whereas having a good old moan flows easily from my two finger tips, typing isn’t my strongpoint, but anyway here goes:

There is a project underway in Puerto de la Cruz to update all the street lighting. It is a long term project, over a few years, yet it must be quite advanced as I read that they have already changed 2000 lights. No mean feat when you think that the mainstays of the workforce are just two men and a blue and white cherry picker. Yes, you heard me right just two men, not three or four, plus a couple of lookers-on and a foreman to boot, because these men are not council employees, they are contractors, which is why I am happy to sing  their praises.  However, perhaps I am being a little economical with the truth, when working in a street with low level lights they have a team to back them up, but for high level lights, it’s back to just the two of them, and shock horror, stands back in amazement, they even work  after lunch.

The plan is to change all the lights to LED, or where that is not practical to take them off the grid by going solar powered. The cost savings to date, on the 2000 already changed is reported as 60%, on energy saving alone, I guess that is , not taking into account the cost of conversion.  If I was to be just a little critical, believe me I am trying my best not to be, it is concerning their rollout plan, which seems to me, plain old Mr. Joe Public, an innocent and naive bystander, to be at best a bit erratic. They changed one street in the Guacimara district a couple of months ago and haven’t been back since. Maybe, however, their work plan is driven by the availability of parts and streets are changed as a when these become available; if so then I am guilty of doing them an injustice.  My street, a sleepy dead end backwater which surely should have been low priority, has recently been changed. For some reason we have those high level lights, the ones that look more at home on major roads and motorways. However, unlike similar ones on the main road, we had not gone LED, the bulbs haven’t been changed, but we have been converted to solar power. Not a problem for me at all, in fact quite the opposite, as the continuous loud buzzing  from the light nearest to me,  a problem which despite much scratching of heads of the council employees on numerous occasions was never resolved , is now silent, what bliss.

That’s it, there is only so much of interest to say about LED and solar power and changing light bulbs, besides which I have been almost nice for far too long, I have a reputation to uphold you know, time to move on.

It had all been very quiet on the news front with regard to pending projects. It couldn’t last; not with next year’s elections creeping up on them and the need to make an announcement ahead of their summer holiday. So 2 weeks ago now, by the time you read this, a series of  press releases and social media statements with regards  to three  of the most major projects in Puerto de la Cruz. Some good news, some quite bad and some that make promises without committing themselves to a timeline.

Let’s take the plunge and dive straight into the deep end. No, not the swimming pool, though that would have made a good intro, more on that project in a mo.  I am talking about the Muelle , a project where all involved have been wading through red tape for years , who having thought they were nearly there,  were  just waiting for the final nod  from  Costas,( they who should be blamed for all delays regardless of whose fault it is) who have just thrown the most  gi-normous  spanner in the works.  Yes, this is the bad news.  The project with Cos-tas agreement, or so they thought, had been  split in two, with the Seaward project, construction of the port as phase one and the Landside project, all the commercial buildings as phase two. The plan was to concentrate on phase one and leave phase two on the back burner. The rationale being, I’m sure, though they would never admit it, it is going to take so long to complete the port itself, phase two would never happen, at least not within their political lifetime.

Now Costas has moved the goalposts, perhaps everything is not so cosy in Madrid since the change of government, and they want all the planning and more importantly the environ-mental impact reports for phase two before phase one can proceed any further. So is it back to the drawing board or time to walk away. The case for the ‘it will never happen in my lifetime’ school of thought now looks stronger. Will any party be brave enough to include this project in next year’s manifesto; it could prove to be the kiss of death.

Approval for the new Municipal Pool, or the ‘Centro Insular de Natacíon’ to use its correct name, is imminent according to recent reports. Are they sure, we are talking about receiving Costas approval, the same Costas who have just effectively kicked the Muelle project into touch.  Once approval has been received the project enters the licensing phase, which will involve a lot of shuffling of paperwork and should be completed within 6 months. Therefore reports of work starting before the end of the year seems improbable to me and even early in 2019 seems unlikely, but perhaps with fingers crossed it might just begin in time for polling, but I can think of 11.6 million reasons why it won’t. Yes, €11.6 million that’s the cost, and for that you don’t even get a roof, at least not over the pools, but there will be one over the bar. Glad to see they have got their priorities right.  And what about that name, it’s funny I’ve always thought of ‘insular’ to mean small town, narrow minded and inward looking. Ok, so it can also mean of the island, perhaps that is what they intended.

The Parque San Francisco project is the third one in the news recently, and is for me the one out of the three where we are most likely to see some progress. For one it doesn’t need approval from Costas and they already have approval from all the relative cultural departments and secondly phase one was completed   almost on time in April/May depending on who you listen to. Though why phase two couldn’t just follow straight on is a mystery to me, surely the eight months or so while phase one was underway gave then enough time to juggle all the necessary paperwork.  That is precisely where the project sits now, all the I’s are being dotted and the T’s crossed to ensure all the permissions are in place to be able to commence demolition work before the end of the year as promised, or suggested, or hoped for. I think like most things here the timeline is a bit flexible.

That should really be it from me this month. Although, perhaps whilst on the subject of projects I could just briefly mention the new bus station, a topic most dear to me and a regular feature of this column throughout the years of delay and false promises made. It is strange how I have seemed to lose interest as soon as the work started, perhaps good news doesn’t sit easily with me.  Still I am happy to report, after months of shifting rubble and dirt around the site, the first concrete has been poured, so now they can really say that construction has started.