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Officials: Work on Mérida’s ‘Central Park’ to begin in January

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A rendering of what a Gran Parque La Plancha might look like. Image courtesy Gran Parque La Plancha A.C.

Mérida, Yucatán — Work begins in January to transform a 20-acre chunk of rail yard into something along the lines of New York City’s Central Park.

The project will be based the state’s conceptual Master Plan, according to Guillermo Cortés González, head of the state Technical Secretariat for Planning and Evaluation (Seplan).

The plan envisions a 60-acre “green lung” that has artwork, a botanical garden, a cultural center and workshops. Adjacent to the Centro’s historic train station, the plan also protects a huge parcel of land from developers.

The old train station at La Plancha is now an art school. Photo: David Stansbury

The state government signed an agreement with National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) to assist in the project, turning acres of old rail yards into Gran Parque La Plancha.

“We are already making progress in obtaining the land permits with the federal government. Yesterday (last Thursday) what we did was an agreement for the UNAM to be one of the institutions that is part of the project. That is to say, the University is not only part of the rescue project but also will invest resources directly to the project,” he said.

Previously: Read about the La Plancha Master Plan

The park will be hand-in-hand with the relocation of the freight rail operations, which are being moved to Umán in early 2018.

In April, state officials received the Master Plan, drawn up under a collaboration of various people and civic groups.

“We could perhaps compare the project to the Chapultepec Park in Mexico City, as it is considered that the area has adequate development of plants with the objective of making it a sustainable park,” said Cortés González.

Final designs, based on the highly conceptual Master Plan, are still being fine tuned.

A member of Gran Parque La Plancha, A.C., the civic group that for years has campaigned to create the park, expressed optimism, but also reservations.

“We’re pleased the state government embraces the concept of a public park in La Plancha, turning to an outstanding institution like UNAM for technical support (and apparently some investment),” the member told Yucatán Expat Life. “The Master Plan study prepared by UNAM and UADY provides the state with a very impressive basis for creating a major public park in Mérida´s historic district. We have the space; we have an excellent plan.”
“But the eight ha. (or 20 acres) the state government points to represent only one third of the full 24 ha. the state and its Master Plan identify for park space,” the member continued. “This comes as a disappointment, particularly because the remaining two thirds, constituting the northern portion of La Plancha, may become the site for what one state government official refers to as “public-private” developments (see the portion of the radio interview with G. Cortés on our Facebook page). This new twist, though not entirely unanticipated, raises questions about who will really benefit from what has long been seen as a public legacy that would eventually pass to the community after the removal of railway operations.”

With information from Sipse

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