Published On: Thu, Jul 10th, 2014

Update on the “Gran Parque La Plancha” Project

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Two months ago I described for Yucatan Times readers a project to create a spectacular “Gran Parque La Plancha” in the 20 neglected acres north of Merida´s train station.  We have made significant progress with this ambitious project, and I want to share just two of our initiatives with you.  Both are critically important, and both require the support many of you offered in response to my last article.

Governance in democracies involves making tough choices, spawning a rich variety of methods for attracting support from decision makers.  One of the most persuasive, but also one of the most time consuming, is the collection of petition signatures to demonstrate popular support.  Our first initiative targets 50,000 petition signatures in support of the Gran Parque La Plancha.  Our project is stridently non-political, and it will be essential to its success that we convince politicians from all parties of its immense popularity with residents young and old, male and female, citizens and non-citizens.

 

On Sunday morning, July 13, we will collect signatures from 9 to 12 on Paseo Montejo in front of Scotia Bank (next to Hotel Rosas y Xocolate).  Please come and sign our petition and stop for a chat.   You will find future petition drive locations on our Facebook Page (see below), and of course you can help promote this project by “liking” our page.

 

Our second initiative is a Charrette, named for the “little carts” French students used to transport their projects to university evaluations, tinkering frantically en route.  Many names describe the collaborative process we will host in Mérida on August 28, 29 and 30: Charrette, brainstorming session, visioning, ideation.

Ours will incorporate members of the La Plancha community, along with dozens of experts ranging from landscape architects and historic preservationists to artists and hydrology engineers.

Together, they will ensure our project is rigorously reviewed from all angles, captures symbiotic benefits across disciplines, and builds support for a community park that addresses some of Mérida´s most urgent needs: sports and leisure facilities for recreation and public health; extensive tree plantings to beautify the city while improving air quality and flood control; and the renovation of historic buildings for educational, cultural and commercial activities that create investment, tourism and jobs in an abandoned neighborhood.

This photo of the interior of the train platform was taken in 1991.  Renovation of this extraordinary steel-and-glass structure would create a superb space for cultural events and commercial space

This photo of the interior of the train platform was taken in 1991. Renovation of this extraordinary steel-and-glass structure would create a superb space for cultural events and commercial space

We are fortunate to have Charles McKinney, Principal Urban Designer for New York City´s Parks and Recreation Department, join us at the Charrette.  New York City is widely recognized as a leader in designing, building and maintaining parks that are beautiful, environmentally sustainable and ingeniously adapted to their urban settings and multi-ethnic communities.  McKinney has been a motive force in the city´s smart design, and recently directed the creation of the first comprehensive design manual for urban parks produced by a U.S. city.  Like all New York City Parks and Recreation publications, this document is available in Spanish.

Where are we headed?  Ideas gathered during the Charrette will be integrated into a Master Plan for Gran Parque La Plancha.  This Master Plan, along with the petition signatures and a financing proposal that minimizes the burden on strained city and state budgets, will be delivered to the municipal, state and federal governments for their consideration and, we hope, approval.

Merida Train Station shortly after its completion in 1920

Merida Train Station shortly after its completion in 1920

Now, here´s where you come in.  Thus far our expenses have been covered by a small group of volunteers.  Now we must convert an informal organization into a registered “Asociación Civil,” which entails significant legal fees.  Any amount you can donate through the Pay Pal account on our website and Facebook page will help establish our A.C.  Please note that your donations are not tax deductible.  And thank you.

Merida Train Station in 1921

Merida Train Station in 1921

P.S. — If you haven´t seen the extraordinary park concept video “Imagine…” produced by Kevin Nicholson, then please view it on our website or Facebook page.

By Jack Robinson

Gran Parque La Plancha

Website: http://granparquelaplancha.org/

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  1. Mary Maas says:

    The idea of turning all or part of ”La Plancha” into a park has been around for years — this isn’t a new idea that expats came up with. Other groups that have developed proposals include the Patronato para la Preservación del Centro Historico del Ciudad de Mérida Yucatán A.C., and the Fundación Plan Estratégico de Yucatán A.C. I hope that members of this new group are in contact, so that all interested in such a project can join forces and present a strong voice!

    • Alejandro Alejandro says:

      Hello Mary: thanks for your comments, both the Patronato para la Preservación del Centro Historico del Ciudad de Mérida Yucatán A.C., and the Fundación Plan Estratégico de Yucatán are involved in this new iniciative, and the neighbors of La Plancha (Yucatecos, Expats and other) are collaborating together with these two groups in order to try to get the attention of the State and Municipal Governments… and it is not going to be easy, but it isn’t impossible either. Hopefully one of these Mexican politicians take the project as a part of his or her personal election plan to become Major or Governor and therefore make it happen with the intention of gaining votes… That could be the way to achieve the goal of turning La Plancha into a Central Park – Community Center What do you think?

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