Green and open spaces for Bacolod
BY: ERROL A. GATUMBATO
On Saturday, the heavy rain inundated several places in Bacolod City, causing not only traffic jams in major streets, but also anxieties and panic because the rushing water entered a number of houses. From the photos posted on social media, Facebook in particular, you could see numerous streets looking like rivers. The situation clearly indicated the need to evaluate the existing drainage system and other waterways of the city, since heavy downpours these days are normal occurrences, with the advent of the changing climatic pattern of the world.
With the increasing population and migration from other cities and municipalities of Negros Occidental, in addition to the phasing in of more investments, infrastructure development and other economic opportunities, Bacolod is getting congested, and, therefore, it is also important to consider the design of the city in terms of land use and overall urban planning. Aside from flooding, the city is already facing traffic issues, solid waste problems, informal settlers and dwellings, and other concerns that are basically associated with zoning and local law enforcement, like vandalism, sidewalk vending, and improper parking.
For one, there is a need to develop and implement a comprehensive drainage system plan that should be integrated into the whole development master plan of the city. This should be coupled with the cleaning and clearing of all waterways and the strict imposition of ecological solid waste management. Aside from relying on centralized garbage collection scheme, it is important to encourage or even enforce community level waste disposal system. In most cases, drainage are clogged with solid wastes that are emanating from markets, households, or from individuals who just throw away plastic containers anywhere at their convenience.
One thing that Bacolod could also innovate is the promotion of green and open spaces, because they can help absorb rainwater. It can be implemented as part of the requirements for any development of a particular site and establishment, especially those requiring a large area, such as housing subdivisions, malls, and educational facilities, among others. Even in designing roads and parking lots, green spaces can be incorporated. Easements of waterways should be cleared from settlement and infrastructures, and can be developed as greenbelts and parks.
During the past 10 years, infrastructure development in Bacolod was enormous and many spaces have been cemented and if the drainage was not properly considered, naturally, rainwater will find its way to the streets. This particular scenario occurred in Mandalagan last Saturday, because you can hardly find now open spaces along Lacson Street. Most commercial establishments occupying the area made use of every space for concrete structures. Some vendors are also using portions of path walks along this area.
I am hoping that Bacolod City will further acquire property or partner with civic-minded lot owners for the establishment of more city parks that are not fully cemented but would promote green and open spaces. While basketball and covered courts are being promoted in the different barangays, why not Bacolod also allocates funds for the establishment and maintenance of barangay tree parks? It is interesting if these tree parks would be planted with native floral species that may attract colorful organisms, like butterflies.
One ongoing development that is worth looking into in Bacolod City is the construction being undertaken now by the Ayalas at the property of the provincial government along Capitol lagoon. I’ve learned that the contract between the province and the Ayala Land includes the redesigning of the lagoon and a friend told me that the entire development of the whole area would consider green architecture and landscape design.
Another important site in Bacolod City that should be designed incorporating green and open spaces is the reclamation area, since it is not yet fully covered with infrastructures. The development of SM at the reclamation did not consider green spaces since it fully cemented the whole area it occupied, including parking lots.
Bacolod is a relatively small community and how about promoting and implementing bike lanes so that people would be encouraged to use bikes instead of motor vehicles? In a way, this would also promote healthy living while easing the traffic.
There are so many opportunities for Bacolod to showcase it as a modern urban community that promotes healthy living, clean environment, and more green spaces if only local officials will go back to the drawing board .*
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