Hail the new bus station! But now, what about the old site?
So the new bus station is open, just eleven years after the old one was forced to close
Eleven years, it sounds such a long time, but it’s not really, not for Puerto de la Cruz. Take the extension to Jardin Botanico for an example, 30 plus years that project has been going and it’s still a long way from finished, although I did read that Gobierno, the Canary Islands government, are going to put a bit more money unto it next year.
Whether that will be enough to get it finished, we’ll have to wait and see. It’s such a shame that it has taken so long, the situation made worse, I’m sure by so many premature announcements that it was going to open. Still there were a few of those with the bus station, but let’s be positive about it, it’s open now.
What about the building? It is concrete and it’s grey and the site is surrounded by a grey concrete wall with holes in it. I assume this is meant to resemble a banana plantation wall and expect some architect was handsomely rewarded for its cutting edge design. However, that said the building appears to serve its purpose, though I was expecting it to be a bit more ’technical’ with screens to tell you the time of the next bus leaving, its destination, and the bay it will be leaving from, but perhaps I am just being a tad petty.
It is a vast improvement on the last station, that dark and dingy, fume filled excuse for one, and a great improvement on what the residents have had to put up with for the last eleven years. Have I mentioned its taken eleven years to complete the new bus station? That is almost three full council terms of office, and in that time there were so many promises made, I have a good memory. There were valid reasons for the delay (excuses), not that these were forthcoming, Puerto had a reputation to maintain and it’s not easy to consistently stay near the bottom of the ‘transparency’ chart year on year. There were problems with the ownership of the new site, part of it was apparently owned by some long defunct government department in Madrid and no one wanted to take responsibility or ownership, quite literally.
The problem for me, by my way of thinking, was not the ownership of the new site, but moreover trying to understand why they didn’t just redevelop the existing site. Presumably they knew who owned that? I can only assume it was considered to be too big a project, one that would take too long and be too costly. Besides, Puerto was without a bus station and needed one now , (remember this was eleven years ago, so the virgin site was the best option, which smacks of desperation, the need to be seen to be doing something. In hindsight, perhaps it wasn’t the best option.
Now the bus station is finished, everyone can let out a great big sigh of relieve, put a tick in the box, job done, and move on to the next one. Hang on a moment, not so fast; correct me if I’m wrong, I’m sure the original project was to build a new bus station whilst rede-veloping the old one. It was only at a later date that one became two and the old bus station was quickly brushed under the carpet, or wrapped in a €30,000 advertising hoarding to be more exact. How enterprising, they could generate some income while pondering on either, what to do with the site, or waiting for it to fall down, whichever comes first. Sadly that is not the case, the advertising hoardings were used exclusively for the purpose of telling everybody how great Puerto de la Cruz is, which of course we all already knew.
That is it, my final word on the new bus station; unless, that is, cracks start to appear in the concrete. However, I wait with bated breath for news of what is going to happen to the old one, it is the forgotten project, the elephant in the room if you like, where everyone knows it’s there, but no one wants to acknowledge its presence or talk about it.
Now to move swiftly on to the Municipal pool, this appears to be another project that has hit a brick wall. The pool was dying a slow death, purportedly through lack of maintenance. The final nail in its coffin proved to be damage to the pump room in December 2015. Damage that was quickly deemed to be an uneconomical repair and the pool was closed for good. Puerto was without a municipal swimming pool and a bus station.( Sorry wasn’t going to mention that again, still worth remembering it took eleven years to replace.) I have always wondered whether it was uneconomical in the dictionary sense or une-conomical in the, we haven’t got the money to repair it sense, but that’s just me thinking aloud, besides, a new pool would be a capital project, one that would be financed from outside the municipality, always the preferred option.
And so the project for the rebirth of the municipal pool began, the project has another much grander name, but essentially it replaces the municipal pool, so to my mind it remains one. Ah, but that is not strictly true is it. While the ambitious €12.6 million project (I’ll pause to let you get over the shock) has been sold to the residents as appropriate to their needs, the facilities it is going to offer are more suited to club rather than general use. I wonder now how much it would have cost to repair the pump room.
Where are we now, almost four years on since the closure, clocks ticking? The present administration has recently succeeded, where the previous one failed, in clearing the site of squatters and making it secure, a necessary step required to take the project forward and to be able to formally hand the site to Cabildo who will be responsible for the build. There has been a lot of chatter on social media that the new team at Cabildo may have wanted to change the project, but it seems the project has been passed unhindered and should now go out to tender .
€12.6 million, I read somewhere that this sum is more than three times the amount ever spent on a pool within the island. Whether this is fact or fiction, who knows, I often think if you believe half of what you read you are being overly generous. €12.6 million and it won’t even have a roof, not strictly true the bar and spectator area will have one to provide protection against the weather. Still, if you are swimming you are wet anyway so it doesn’t matter if it rains. It is not the rain, it is the chilly winter mornings, why bother to heat a pool if there is nothing to keep the heat in.
So, if it goes out to tender this month, how long do prospective builders have, let’s say two or three months, to submit, then add a similar period for Cabildo to consider their submissions. More time will be needed for drawing up the contract and holidays have to be taken into account, meaning, surely, most of 2020, a further year, will be gone before a builder even steps onto the site. How long will it take to build? I have seen various timescales, the lowest being two years and probably the highest being three years and four months. My gut tells me it will be that and a bit more, but I’ll say three years to keep the sums simple. Four years to date, plus another year of red tape, then add three years for the build, gives you, without the aid of a calculator, the grand total of eight years without a municipal pool. Not as long as we waited for a bus station, I’ll grant you that, however, the buses still ran, so it didn’t inconvenience anyone one too much. Whereas eight years without what was a popular swimming pool most surely has.