With thousands of local citizens opposed and just 55 in favour, public hearings over a controversial proposal that would allow the sale and re-zoning of city-owned land on the River Plate have drawn to a close.
Thousands of residents flocked to the hearings to register their opposition to the proposed development in Costa Salguero, creating the longest set of such sessions in the history of the City Legislature.
After 30 days of hearings, over the course of almost two months, the result was overwhelming – 97.6 percent were opposed to City Hall’s rezoning project. Of the over 7,000 people signing up to participate in the hearing, no less than 2,003 of the 2,058 citizens voicing their opinion opposed the proposal.
The sheer number of local participants stood out, bringing together neighbourhoods from across the city – environmental activists, architects, academics, young and old, artists, the media, senators, deputies, local politicians, civic and political groupings, and more.
The arguments against the project were equally diverse – the contradiction with Articles 8 and 27 of the City Constitution as well as the Urban Environmental Plan, the need for more green spaces, opposition to the loss of public land and taking care of the River Plate shoreline among other solid technical and political arguments. A proposal to create a large public park named "Diego Armando Maradona" received overwhelming support.
The Frente de Todos caucus in the City celebrated the massive public participation, insisting on rejection of the sale and rezoning of Costa Salguero and Punta Carrasco in favour of a big public park with native flora and fauna accessible to everybody. It also called on City Hall to listen to all the voices involved in the hearing, as well as to the various demonstrations in defence of the shoreline, instead of turning a deaf ear and pressing ahead.
Among Frente de Todos politicians, City legislators Lucía Cámpora and Matías Barroetaveña, along with Senator Mariano Recalde and national deputy Gisela Marziotta, dismissed the privatisation project as "a symbol of the [Mauricio] Macri style of governance made explicit, saying they listen to the neighbours but acting against the citizenry," as the latter told the Página/12 newspaper.
Cámpora alleged that the City government was being protected by the media, claiming to govern well because they fixed pavements while messing up health and education, then trying to shunt the blame while trying to blame the national government for inadequacies. She said the pandemic had underlined the need for green spaces.
Barroetaveña pointed out that the project of urbanising the entire riverside, as expressed by Deputy Mayor Diego Santilli, would be very difficult to reverse once the area was built-up while Recalde expressed confidence in Costa Salguero becoming a public park as part of “our horizon of recovering an inclusive city," now that the citizenry had rejected its privatisation.
For his part, City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta defended the project, telling one local radio station that the initiative would provide “a new space to neighbours that currently cannot use.”
Speaking midweek, City lawmaker Victoria Roldán Méndez (Juntos por el Cambio) said that she did not believe the project would be dropped, despite strong opposition to the project. "I do not think the project will be dropped," she told FM Futurock. "It is an area of the City that is remote, not very accessible and it needs to be developed."
– TIMES with agencies