Progreso, Yucatan — On land, the port city is planning bike paths, a waterfront marketplace and a pedestrian mall.
But off the coast is perhaps the most dramatic piece of Progreso’s revitalization project: An artificial coral reef.
The director of municipal tourism, Manuel Rosado, told El Financiero that the plans will be presented at the end of the month or in April.
“We are doing the environmental impact studies and the reef plan,” he said, estimating a budget of 5 million pesos, or US$259,000.
The Reef Ball Foundation has been chosen to install the reef six kilometers / 3.7 miles off the coast. The contractor will install 1,400 individual structures designed to attract sea flora and protect sea life.
An artificial reef will attract snorkeling and fishing, as well as a healthy ecosystem, said a representative of Reef Ball, a nonprofit organization based in Athens, Ga.
Its “high-tech, high-strength” hollow concrete construction is meant to last 500 years, according to Reef Ball.
The structures’ circular shape favors photosynthesis in the life cycle of corals, maximizing plants’ exposure to the sun’s rays, explained Reef Ball’s Javier Dajer.
It takes about five years for the structures to be covered with vegetation and mimic the marine ecosystem, said Dajer.
Artificial reefs like these have been installed in Campeche, Quintana Roo, Colima, Baja California and Veracruz, he said.
The reef is part of a five-axis plan to upgrade Progreso’s image.
Facades in the city’s center will be painted with unifying colors, some streets will be closed to create pedestrian malls, a bike path will be established, and an entire citywide master plan will be drafted, said tourism officials.
The stretch of Calle 25A between 78 and 80, near the artisan market, has been set aside as a tourist-friendly shopping path. The area is a drop-off spot for cruise ship passengers.
The Progreso Port Administration, meanwhile, has already begun recovery work at the waterfront building that will serve as marketplace and restaurant.
The building, now abandoned, was built approximately three years ago. It was previously expected to be re-opened by Easter 2018.
Sources: El Financiero, Sipse