One of the biggest challenges affecting parents in Barranquilla and unsurprisingly, one of the reasons many parents leave the city, is the lack of green space. While there are many parks, they’re all quite small and there’s very little tree cover. In the heat of the Barranquilla sun, the parks are uninhabitable during the day.
The World Health Organization has set a minimum green space requirement of around 8 square meters per person. To put that in perspective, cities with the least concrete and most green-space (and thus, contributing to being the most healthy) are London at 27m2, Amsterdam at 45m2 and Stockholm at 87m2. On the other hand, cities with the absolute worst green-space ratios – and thus, the least healthy, are Tokyo with only 3m2 and Bueno Aires with only 2m2. At the start of 2016, Barranquilla had less than 1 square meter of green space per person.
To manage this opportunity, the municipality is drafting plans to construct the largest park in the city, Parque Bicentenario. Stretching across some 38,000 square meters in Barrio La Paz, and costing almost $3,000,000,000 pesos, the finished green-space will have bicycle paths, exercise equipment, and recreational areas.
The concept came about originally in 2009 when Father Swinne highlighted the lack of park space in the South-end of the city. In 2014, then mayor, Elsa Noguera launched into full planning mode to establish the perimeter and contents of the park itself.
Just this past week, after attending a site development meeting with Mayor Char and local leaders, La Paz community leader, Father Cyrillus Swinne, noted, “Bicentennial Park is already a dream come true, this fills me with satisfaction because this sector is disadvantaged. Now we will have an area that greatly improves the neighborhood quality of life.”
Unfortunately, at least based on the architectural drawings, Bicentennial Park still won’t be offering much in the way of green cover. There are quite a few trees but they’re spaced too far apart from one another. Nevertheless, if you recall Char’s campaign speeches, a promise he made which he reiterated during his 100-day speech in April, was that he would create one million m2 of green area and plant 250,000 trees. We look forward to future projects on this topic.
Incidentally, in October last year, we reported on a plan of Elsa Noguera to build a massive Central Park where the army’s Paraiso Battalion is currently garrisoned. Unfortunately, that plan hasn’t yet come to fruition.