TIJUANA.-There is a urgent need for green spaces in a city with a population of almost 2 million people. The situation is that Tijuana has not built a new park in close to 20 years. The city has grown rapidly, developers are concerned with affordable housing and centro comerciales (mini malls) because it is more lucrative to do so, but at what cost? Tijuana has three famous parks. Parque de la Amistad and Parque Morelos (both in the east side of the city) are the Tijuana's largest and best kept parks. Parque Teniente Guerrero in Downtown Tijuana is beautiful but was made a long time ago and for very few residents. Tijuana has about one square meter of green spaces per capita while the international requirement for healthy living in a city is ten square meters per capita. The need for a new park is urgent.
Two recent developments on large vacant lands in the heart of the city have received divided public opinion. The Galerias mall was constructed at the base of Hipodromos' Xolo stadium on the busy Blvd Agua Caliente. It has a large Walmart (yuk), a movie theatre, restaurants and shops. It is the next door neighbor to a the huge Caliente casino (which has a private zoo filled with exotic animals). Head west on the boulevard and you will see the new very large American Mall style Food court Paseo Chapultepec. It hosts a wide variety of corporate style restaurants chains that include Chili's and some place that serves frozen burger patties with a very lame super hero decor. The new Paseo Chapultepec is the exact opposite of relevant and very newsworthy Baja Med cuisine. This new food court with a huge parking lot is the enemy of Baja Med and neighbors say the traffic situation to get to Tijuana's most exclusive neighborhood Chapultepec is a mess thanks to this new large food court. I just don't see the public benefit of huge malls, strip malls and Westfield type food courts all within a few miles of each other in the very heart of Tijuana's boulevard Agua Caliente.
The perfect location for a new and beautiful park seems to be where Tijuana's historic ( read next paragraph) Downtown bullring once stood. The bullring was demolished years ago and a empty lot now stands there gathering trash, graffiti and third world billboards. The empty and very large lot lays in the heart of the city, very close to downtown Tijuana and one of it's most affluent and old neighborhoods, La Cacho. Questions linger about who owns the property and until today, I am still unclear about who owns the property but it would appear that is privately owned. Whoever the owner of the large and valuable property may be, why have they not presented a plan of what's going to be built there? A park could be made there and suggestions from the public this week have asked why can't there be something built that could both benefit the owners financially and the residents of Tijuana? The tattered lot is a sorry example of what beauty and civic pride the city now has. There has been hardly any public outcry demanding a park there almost convincing me that the residents of this beautiful border city are pleased with strip malls, Oxxos and Walmarts on every corner.
The history of the large lot where the bullring once stood is precisely the reason the spot is the perfect location for a new Tijuana park. The bullring was built in 1938 when Tijuana was booming with tourists seeking casinos, brothels and bars. The structure was demolished in 2007 despite protests from various cultural restoration groups and bullfight aficionados. It was the height of the Hollywood scene for Tijuana. The bullring boom days were the 1960's and 70's. Historians believe Hollywood stars like Ava Gardner and Marylyn Monroe visited the bullring. The Los Angeles to Tijuana connection was huge and continued to be huge well into the 80's and 90's. World famous studio musician Herb Alpert visited these bullfights during the 60's and the sound he heard by Corrida musicians inspired him to create the band Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass.
VIDEO : Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass
The band was incredible success selling out concerts across the world and winners of a few Grammy's. Herb Alpert later founded A&N records making him millions and millions of dollars. I bet Herb Alpert could buy the lot if he wanted to. Somebody show him the pictures of what it looks like now.
I have taken matters into my own hands and using the ever useful social media account when it comes to raising public outcry for a park. I live three short blocks from where the bullring once stood and would be effing happy if something like this was built. I made a Facebook fan page named "QUEREMOS UN PARQUE DONDE ERA EL TOREO DE TIJUANA" (we want a park where the Tijuana bullring once stood). The page has reached Three thousand "likes" and made it to two local newspapers and one morning news tv show. I know it is private property but I believe a proposal came be shown where the owners can make money and the city can get a much needed new green space, the city urgently needs it. If with public outcry when can convince owners, residents and Government officials in the city that this course of action is fundamental to the growth and property of Tijuana, then I will keep asking people to join our cause.
Please like the fan page, share thoughts on it and help us create a much needed park for the city of Tijuana (and not more Walmarts and Oxxos) .
*Follow Tony Tee on Twitter @tonyteefiesta