Botanical Garden needs P70M for rehab-A A +A
Sunday, January 13, 2013
CONSTRUCTION at the Baguio Botanical Garden is currently at a standstill after P13.5 million in counterpart funds allocated by the City Government for the rehabilitation was already spent.
Mayor Mauricio Domogan said Wednesday that the Botanical Garden rehabilitation project may need as much as P70 million more to finish the construction of a multi-purpose building in the area which will include indigenous people’s traditional house exhibits among other aesthetic requirements for one of the city’s popular tourist destinations.
He said the city may again appropriate an amount for the completion of the Botanical Garden rehabilitation.
The project started last year and may miss out again in reaching completion on expected tourism peak season such as the Panagbenga Festival and the Holy Week.
He said the problem was caused by the delay in the release of funds from the Department of Tourism’s Tourism Infrastructure Enterprise Zone Authority which the city does not control to expedite the release of funds.
The city mayor already instructed the City Environment and Parks Management Office to follow-up the funding for the park’s immediate repair and improvement.
The Botanical Garden suffers the same fate as Burnham Park’s Rose Garden which underwent its first phase of rehabilitation last year but still needs another phase of repairs for its total rehabilitation much to the disappointment of park goers.
The city mayor also explained they conducted the construction on a phase by phase basis to make use of the available funding before it will be reverted back to the National Government.
“We want to do the project in one go but the fund that arrived, for example in Rose Garden, is just enough for one phase and if we’re not going to spend it would revert back to the funding agency,” he said.
He added that it is also required to complete the first phase of these projects before a second tranche of budget will be released.
He added that in the Botanical Garden rehabilitation, the city has already done its part in appropriating and implementing the counterpart funds but he said they do not have control with the release of funds from other national agencies such as TIEZA.
During its centennial celebrations two years ago, the Botanical Garden has also been improved with the erection of the Builders of Baguio monument, which symbolizes the prime movers in the growth of the city from an American hill station to a bustling metropolis.
Other non-government organizations such as the Philippine Mines Safety Association have also adopted an portion of the Botanical Garden, which they improved by planting indigenous plants and pine trees to help in the improvement of city parks.
The city has also allotted funding for the rehabilitation of the Malcolm Square or People’s Park but the city council deferred action on the project, the mayor said.
Several other city parks remain in dismal state, which prompted the mayor to inform those who have earlier expressed interests in adopting these parks to make true of their promises of maintaining these areas as the city alone cannot undertake the massive rehabilitation of all these properties.
Concessionaires at the Botanical Garden, meanwhile, have also expressed their dismay at the turtle-paced implementation of the rehabilitation which already affects their businesses as tourists no longer enter the park due to ongoing constructions.
Baguio’s parks including Burnham Park’s silted lake is also currently undergoing dredging and rehabilitation to further draw tourists who wish to see Japanese koi fishes in the lake as well as ride animal-shaped boats rented out by concessionaires to the Summer Capital.
Public works officials, however, assured the project will be done before the conduct of the city’s million crowd drawer the Panagbenga Festival.
The mayor also stressed other areas which need funding include Burnham Park’s bike lane which needs an asphalt overlay but he said they are still awaiting for some national agencies such as the DPWH and the DOT to appropriate funds for this. (JM Agreda)
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 14, 2013.