Issue of September 2, 2018
     
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2018
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Mayor: Parking buildings needed
by Hanna C. Lacsamana

Misinformed?

Baguio Mayor Mauricio Domogan has welcomed Tourism Sec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat’s remark about the need for continuous talks with the city government concerning the plan to build a multi-level parking structure at Burnham Park, noting that the DOT official might have not been completely apprised on the city’s situation.

He also appealed for the national government to look back at the pages of Burnham Park’s history, where no improvements materialized when it was handled by the Department of Tourism, through the National Parks Development Committee, and the blame was laid at the doorsteps of the city government.

In a forum with the editorial staff of a broadsheet posted online on Aug. 28, Puyat said she rejects making Burnham Park a parking lot. Instead, she raised the possibility of lowering the city’s carrying capacity since it has become congested.

Baguio, which has a land area of over 57 square kilometers, is arguably one of the most densely populated urban areas in the country today with close to 6,000 people per square kilometer or close to 20 times higher than the national average.

Domogan, however, stressed that the areas in Burnham Park that the city is eyeing to improve by constructing parking buildings are already existing parking areas, which need to be improved to accommodate more vehicles.

“With all due respect, the secretary might have not been informed of the city’s problem, o hindi kumpletoyung information na nakarating sa kanya. This is the problem of our constituents and visitors, that we need more parking areas and so we plan to address this by improving the existing parking areas that we are using,” Domogan said.

He said he already made an order to write the DOT secretary a letter to explain to her the complete picture on Burnham Park and the city’s traffic and parking situation.

“However, it is good that she said she will talk with the local government. We (the city government and the DOT) are both part of the government. Instead of being at odds, we should be helping each other how we can really improve Burnham Park. That should be our attitude,” the mayor said.

Domogan added that having parking structures can become a revenue source for the city that it can use for the maintenance of Burnham Park.

He reminded that the park’s maintenance is heavily subsidized by the city, at an average of P30 million annually, coming from the city’s other sources of revenues.

The mayor added he has no objections in the event DOT would want to again take over Burnham Park’s management from the city, as it would allow the city to spend the park’s budget on other projects.

“Whichever will manage Burnham Park is not really an issue for us. What’s important is that the park will be properly maintained. If it will be neglected again, sino na naman ang sasabihin ng mga tao na may kasalanan? It’s the local government of Baguio, hindi naman sila,” Domogan said.

The city has long planned to build parking structures at Burnham Park in efforts to provide more parking spaces for its increasing population and almost year-round arrival of tourists. Several proposals from private entities, including unsolicited feasibility studies finding the plan viable, were introduced, but each was met with public opposition and appeals to let Burnham Park as it is, being the biggest and remaining open space in the central business district.


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