THE Baguio City Government and SM Prime Holdings (SMPH) Inc. signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) Friday to rehabilitate and improve the Children’s Playground inside Burnham Park.
The MOA that aims to beautify the children’s playground was signed by Mayor Mauricio Domogan and Engr. Bien Mateo, SM Supermalls vice president for operations, in behalf of SMPH Inc. president Hans Sy last July 5 in the presence of City Environment and Parks Management Office head Cordelia Lacsamana and mall officials.
SMPHI, which operates SM City Baguio, has expressed its interest in partnering with the City Government by offering to finance and implement the rehabilitation of the Children’s Playground, a section of the park enjoyed by locals and tourists visiting the city’s premiere park.
The rehabilitation of the children’s playground will involve landscaping of surrounding gardens, construction of additional benches and tables for family picnics and installation of park lighting to ensure security and safety of park goers and protect playground equipment.
The mall operator will also fix the drainage system in the playground and will provide additional safe playground toys and equipment to be enjoyed by children and family members.
Mall authorities revealed they allotted P2 million for the rehabilitation of the playground, which stands as their commitment in further improving city parks and properties.
SM Baguio public relations manager Karren Padilla said the mall management will secure necessary permits for the temporary closure of the playground for 50 days so they could place proper notices and start preparation for the rehabilitation.
The mall management has scheduled the completion of the rehabilitation project the soonest for park goers to enjoy the project before the start of the Christmas season, Panagbenga and summer months when tourism activities in Baguio are on its peak.
After the rehabilitation, the mall will turn over all the improvements they made in the playground while the City Government will help SM secure necessary permits and City Council resolutions to carry out the improvement of the children’s playground.
The City Government has allocated P6 million in 2007 for the improvement of the Children’s Playground, which resulted then in the construction of a gazebo construction of playground such as swings and play mats. But years of use have led to the dilapidation of the facilities.
In the past months, Mayor Domogan has continued rallying for various public and private partnerships in Burnham Park to help improve the City Government-owned property.
He said the income generated from concessionaires in Burnham Park is only P8 million annually, adding the city will need more partners to maintain and develop the park based on the master plan created by the University of the Cordilleras.
Last month, musical and dancing fountains were also turned over to the city as part of the project initiated by former representative Bernardo Vergara as part of the rehabilitation of the Rose Garden funded by the Tourism Infrastructure Enterprise Zone Authority for P50 million spread out in two phases.
Other constructions being implemented in the park this year include the construction of gates under the initiative of the Burnham Park Fencing Committee headed by Baguio Diocese Bishop Carlito Cenzon and funded by the P25-million budget from President Benigno Aquino III and implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways.
The city mayor stressed Burnham Park will remain free and open for the public’s use, and stressed there’s no truth to reports circulating in social networking sites that it will soon be privatized.
He said the gates will only be closed at night for security purposes and act as deterrent to criminal elements and protect park property.
“Who would go there, like at 11 p.m., at the unholy hours at night? It is important that we protect the park property to ensure that the public will enjoy it for many more years,” he said.