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BAGUIO CITY – The local government is setting its sights on three areas within the 34-hectare Burnham Park complex as possible sites of proposed multi-level parking structures that will cater to the parking needs of the increasing number of motor vehicles in the city.
Based on the conceptual master development plan that was prepared by a technical working group tasked by the local government do prepare the same, the proposed areas where parking structures could be reacted include the existing Ganza parking area, the proposed site of the creative center at the old city auditorium area and within portions of the Baguio Athletic Bowl specifically the area of the Army Reserve Command (ARESCOM) and the vicinity of the Baguio tennis court.
A 5-storey multi-level parking building that could accommodate some 500 to 700 vehicles at one time aside from some 172 public utility jeepneys in a portion of the structure that will be owned by the city is being proposed to be implemented in the Ganza parking area, a 2-level basement parking is also being proposed in the old auditorium site while another multi-level parking structure is being eyed to be erected within the ARESCOM or Baguio tennis court areas.
However, the Burnham Park conceptual master development plan will still be subject to revisions based on the results of public consultations that will be conducted by the local government for the purpose of soliciting the inputs of the public on how to further improve the plan.
Earlier, Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong created a technical working group to prepare the conceptual master development plan of the whole Burnham Park taking into consideration previous development plans that were prepared by concerned groups and institutions.
In 2009, the University of the Cordilleras (UC) donated to the local government a comprehensive master development plan of Burnham Park which its experts undertook as its gift to the city during the celebration of its centennial anniversary but the same was not favourably acted upon by the previous members of the local legislative body for various reasons.
Burnham Park was master planned by famous American Arch. Daniel Burnham in the early 1900s as a major tourist destination right at the heart of the city.
In 1995, former President Fidel V. Ramos issued Executive Order (EO) No. 224, series of 1995 that transferred the administration, management and operation of Burnham Park from the former Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA) to the local government with an annual subsidy of P18 million that was reduced to P10 million annually until it was eventually scrapped.
Further, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Executive Order No. 695, series of 2009 that ceded the 34-hectare Burnham Park complex to the local government from the State-owned Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) as its gift to the city when it celebrated its centennial anniversary.
The Burnham Park remains to be the most frequented tourist spot in the city primarily because it is strategically located right at the heart of the city and near public places such as the public market, Session road and city hall.
By Dexter A. See