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Jaraula clarifies issues on The Golden Mile Project

Former Mayor Constantino G. Jaraula has issued a clarification about his Golden Mile Project after allegedly being “ridiculed and vilified” by radio commentators on the “unfinished” renovation of the Amphitheatre.

    In a statement sent to this newspaper, Jaraula explained the historical background of the project which eventually led to the controversial demolition of the former Amphitheatre known as the “Amphi” to Kagay-anons.
    “The block referred to as the Amphitheater, from Burgos to Capistrano Streets, used to be the Public Market. The western half was the “wet” portion and the upper half was for dry goods. The other block from Capistrano to Rizal Streets was likewise for dry goods. In 1958 the Cogon Market was made operational under the leadership of Mayor Justiniano “Tinying” Borja and Vice Mayor Jesus “Jake”Seriña.”
    “Under the same leadership the entire “Divisoria Park” from Burgos to Corrales was fully developed and was recipient of a national award in 1963 for “beautification” among local governments. City Engineer Herminio Lucero was the designer and trusted official of Mayor Borja.  It is unfortunate he died not long thereafter.”
    Jaraula noted how even before he assumed office as Mayor in July 2007 the Amphitheater was non-operational and was enclosed with barbwire.
    “It was “over-used” and needed rehabilitation. This was aggravated by the need for additional space in the City Hall complex so that taxpayers would not jump from one office to another area, wasting so much time in between,” he noted.
The Golden Mile
    Thus, he conceived the Golden Mile Project in response to the crying need to expand the City Hall Complex at the time to accommodate the growing demands of the expanding city.
    “When I took over in 2007 City Councilors did not have individual offices which we used to have. There was a demand for a One-Stop-Shop to consolidate City offices and save taxpayers time and expense. I humbly accepted the challenge and conceived of the Golden Mile Project.
    Among the salient features of the project were enhancement of the river bank to prevent flooding; expansion of City Hall; construction of a multi-storey City Center to house a Public Library, Tourism and Museum,  with commercial floors to partly finance the Project; and redevelopment of the Amphitheatre to be integrated with the City Center.
    In 2009, his administration was able to construct with local funds the Legislative and Administrative Buildings surrounding the Barangay/Tourism Hall by buying the old residential area of the late Assemblyman Isidro “Ñor Idroy” Vamenta and a portion of the late Edmundo Chaves property for a “discounted rate” of P13, 000 per square meter. This was considered a good bargain by former City Councilor Lourdes “Inday” Laviña since the prevailing price was at P25k/Sq.M.
    The Golden Mile Master Plan called for the acquisition of all the areas bounded by the river bank and Burgos Street up to Hotel Ramon owned by the Chaves, Reyes, Roa, Montalvan, Gacula, and Pelaez families.
Moving Forward
    “We started with the 782 Sq.M, lot of the late Angel Chaves right beside Hotel Ramon and at the back of the Amphitheater, with the very specific purpose of putting up the City Center, also at a bargain, thanks to Charisse (Chaves) and Rafael “Pepot”Fortich.”
    “We paid off the “occupants” of the property for their houses (whether paying or non-paying of rentals) and they demolished the same and vacated the area. In fact, this generous couple donated One Million (P1,000,000.00) Pesos as their contribution to the construction of the City Center with the condition that proper acknowledgment thereof be placed in the Center Marker. The amount was deposited with the City Treasurer’s Office.”
    The plan also called for the construction of a foot/pedestrian bridge at the back of the City Center towards Brgy. Carmen, in the area owned by the late Domingo Vamenta.
    “This was and still is a necessity since the Ysalina Bridge is always congested and dangerous to pedestrians. A view from the Science building of Xavier University and the Golden Friendship Park would have been extended up to Brgy. Carmen. Of course, it was fully understood at the time that all these could not be accomplished in just “one term”.  And I only had one term.”
All Legal and Approved
    Jaraula noted all the foregoing were covered by corresponding Resolutions and Ordinances, none of which has been repealed. They are available at the City Council for the honest and responsible commentators and scholars.
    – Resolution No. 9305 – 2008 “ResolutionAdopting the Golden Mile Project consisting of (600) Six Hundred Meters of Walkway from the junction of Toribio Chaves Street to the proposed Boulevard along the river bank , going upstream to the 5th Bridge, and 1 kilometer of Boulevard from Toribio Chaves Street going downstream to J.R. Borja Street (or thereabout).
    Correspondingly authorizing the dredging and reclamation of the Cagayan River as may be convenient and necessary for the early completion of the Project; and for this purpose authorizing the Honorable City Mayor to negotiate with any person, entity, or Corporation to undertake the Project or any part thereof, provided that any and all agreements in relation thereto shall be subject to the final approval of the Sangguniang  Panlungsod.” (Unanimously Carried on September 8, 2008)
    – Resolution No. 9306 – 2008 “Resolution Authorizing the Redevelopment of the Golden Friendship Park (formerly Divisoria), including the extension of the same up to the proposed Boulevard along the River Bank and all the way to Barangay Carmen through a Walk Bridge, and the consequent acquisition of the area behind the Amphitheater, and for this purpose authorizing the Honorable City Mayor to conduct negotiations with any person, entity, or Corporation, as may be necessary to fulfill the foregoing functions, provided that any and all agreements in relation thereto shall be subject to the approval of the Sangguniang Panlungsod.” (Unanimously carried on September 8, 2008)
    – Ordinance No. 11262 – 2008  “An Ordinance Authorizing Honorable City Mayor Constantino G. Jaraula to immediately implement or undertake the Redevelopment of the Community Amphitheatre Area at Divisoria, this City, as part of the Golden Mile Project, and further authorizing: the City Mayor to negotiate with Mr. Angel Chaves for the acquisition of his property affected by the said Project and to file expropriation proceedings in Court in case of failure thereof.” (Unanimously Approved December 15, 2008)
    – Resolution No. 9560 – 2009 “Resolution Authorizing the Construction of a Multi-Storey City Center at the back of the Amphitheater (Chaves Lot to be acquired by the City) and the Immediate Bidding process therefor after compliance of basic requirements and in connection with the Redevelopment of the Amphitheater, further Authorizing the Construction of an Elevated Floor for the Amphitheater with the present Ground Floor serving as the area for Pay Parking and the Stage over Burgos Street, and other purposes.” (Carried by Majority on February 24, 2009)
    – Ordinance No. 11379 – 2009 “An Ordinance Appropriating the sum of P10,975,881.00 from the Item “Non – Office Land Acquisition/Expropriation” in the 2009 Annual Budget to be made available for the full payment of the claim for just compensation including Registration and Documentation expenses of the Lot owned by Mr. Angel Chaves, located at Barangay No. 6, this City, which was affected by the construction of a Multi-Storey City Center at the back of the Amphitheater; and for this purpose, authorizing the Honorable City Mayor to sign the Deed of Absolute Sale thereof. (Approved by Majority on May 5, 2009)
The Incomplete Amphi
    Asked why the Golden Mile Project remained incomplete, Jaraula explained that the reconstruction of the Amphi was almost finished with stage already done but it had to await the construction of the City Center to which it has been integrated.
    “In fact, the first to use it was ABS-CBN. This was specifically why the Angel Chaves lot was purchased to construct the City Center thereon and integrate the Amphi thereto,” he noted.
    “In  the meantime, I used the ground floor of the Old Water Tank across Gaston Park to  “put up” the Museum which is being used until now as such without being expanded,” Jaraula added. Thus, he explained that the main reason why the Golden Mile Project, including the Amphi, was not completed was because the succeeding administrations did not elect to pursue it.
    “There was an offer by a Korean consortium to put up a 30-storey building but my 3-year term ended faster. It was always assumed that the projects covered  by the resolutions and ordinances quoted could not be finished in just one term and subsequent administrations were expected to finish them through since they were neither amended nor repealed,” he said.

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