Mayor: Only plan to develop city auditorium is final

Aileen P. Refuerzo

ONLY the plan to develop the old city auditorium at Burnham Park in Baguio City, and not any specific proposal including the unsolicited mall-inclusive blueprint submitted by a private company recently, is final.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan clarified this last week amid a barrage of criticisms from the Burnham Park project oppositors who apparently misinterpreted a newspaper headline quoting the mayor as saying that the auditorium plan was final.

“We understand all the comments, criticisms and objections on the social media and everywhere based on the title of (the article)… but nothing in the article points to the approval of a specific plan or a mall in the area. I was referring to the University of the Cordilleras proposed master development plan of Burnham Park as the one that is final as it needs to be developed as a multi-level parking area with a multipurpose floor for seminars and exhibits with a restaurant and souvenir shops,” the mayor said.

“Unsolicited proposals were received in the past and it includes a mall and hotel. Those are just proposals and nothing is final,” he said.

He assured that the City will follow the prescribed processes in approving the specific plan which include the conduct of extensive consultations with the public as what the City Council has been doing now.

The City Council last Wednesday conducted a second consultation with the public where other unsolicited proposals were presented in addition to the unsolicited proposal of mall developer XRC which was presented during the first hearing held last March.

Councilor Edgar Avila, chairperson of the Committee on Urban Planning, Lands and Housing and co-author of the proposed ordinance authorizing the implementation of the master development plan for Burnham Park particularly the site of the former city auditorium and the new library grounds and parks management, said another consultation will be conducted on May 22.

The mayor said the city auditorium and the Ganza parking lot are the only two areas pinpointed for development within the park.

He said Executive Order No. 224, issued by former President Fidel V. Ramos in February 1995 as amended by Executive Order No. 695 issued by former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo sometime in 2009, allows the introduction of development projects within the identified developable areas within the 34-hectare Burnham Park complex to make the government property a self-sustaining park.

“We agree that parking is the best development option in the area because it has been serving that purpose for years now and nobody has objected to the present set-up. Our intention is only to maximize its use as a parking facility by making it multi-level and accommodate more vehicles and being a prime lot, maximize it further by allowing other uses and it happened that a mall was one of the proposed uses presented in one of the unsolicited proposals,” the mayor said.