Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Farm for Bogotá?

Horses graze in the piece of land between Simon Bolivar Park and Calle 26.
Believe it or not, this idyllic piece of land is near the center of Bogotá, between Parque Simon Bolivar and congested Calle 26. The land is also at the center of a controversy over its fate.

About 31 years ago, this 26-hectare green space was designated to become part of Simon Bolivar Park, according to El Espectador, but the city has never found the money to buy it from its private owner. Now, the city's proposed and polemical Territorial Ordering Plan (POT) would designate much of it for urbanization. Neighbors are protesting.

The green space is located south of
Simon Bolivar Park, between it and
Calle 26.
The idea's promoters argue that the lot is located in the Teusaquillo district, which has already has more green space per resident than most other parts of the city. But that's a very narrow perspective. Bogotá is a very dense city, and Bogotanos come from all over to visit Simon Bolivar Park, which becomes extremely crowded on a sunny weekend. Those crowds will surely increase with the new Calle 26 TransMilenio line, which includes a station near this huge green space.

What's more, this land has to be unique in Bogotá. If it's covered up by - god forbid - a shopping mall or apartment complex, Bogotá will lose an once-in-a-city's-history opportunity.

Rather, Bogotá could use this unique piece of land to do something creative and memorable. And what occurs to me is a working zoo. Sure it sounds weird, but Bogotá's a very urban city increasingly isolated from the countryside which feeds it. An urban zoo would be great for kids to visit, as well as a great educational opportunity for students to learn about ecology, sustainable development, agriculture and much else in an interactive environment.

The area could also serve as a simple zoo, with species native to Colombia and the Andes, which would complement the nearby Botanical Gardens. (Bogotá does have a zoo, but a good ways south of the city center.)

I'm sure that ther are other excellent potential uses for the open space. But burying it under yet another forgettable development certainly isn't one of them.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


Carlito said...

isn't that green space an "humedal"

Miguel said...

Hi Carlito,

Yes, I understand that part of that area is a wetland, which complicates its use for development and gives it more environmental value. However, I bet the water there is none too pure.