“Surprise” ancient winkles report threat to water park project

TERRENOS EN LA ZONA DEL VERIL EN SAN BARTOLOME DE TIRAJANA DONDE SE CAncient shellfish could put the new water park project in jeopardy! The mayor of San Bartolomé
 de Tirajana, Marco Aurelio Pérez (AVPP), has today warned that the Nuevo Canarias party (NC) in the Cabildo de Gran Canaria is attempting to stop the long awaited Siam Park Maspalomas project that is due to start work imminently in El Veril, Playa del Inglés, at the main entry point to the southern tourist zone of Maspalomas Costa Canarias.

This barely believable news comes less than a week after it had been announced that all but one of the four requested licences had been granted to enable the work to finally break ground on this important tourism and leisure project, promoted by the Grupo Loro Parque headed by the German investor Wolfgang Kiessling.

Wave pool waterpark Kiessling group in southern Tenerife-kiessling-anunciaThe Town Council of San Bartolomé de Tirajana has awarded three of the four licenses requested by the Kiessling group to build their new water park in the area of El Veril, at the entry point to Maspalomas. The owners of Loro Parque already have full permission to rehabilitate the little old house made of stone, known as La Maleza, to fence the land and place a mast at the main access to the infrastructure. After obtaining the approval to create service roads, from the Cabildo, the project is now just waiting on one last municipal authorization to channel the ravine.

After almost a year of delay, provoked by judicial conflicts, later judged to be without merit, the Loro Park Group have obtained all the permits required of them to start construction on the water park which was first set forward more than ten years ago.

The project, touted to be the largest of its kind in Europe, which will require an initial investment close to €60 million, has the approval of the Canary Islands Commission for Territorial Planning and Environment, and has been deemed by the Town Council and entrepreneurs of San Bartolomé de Tirajana as a highly desirable economic and promotional stimulus for the tourist destination known as Maspalomas Costa Canaria.

Now it seems the Cabildo’s department of Heritage and Culture has issued a “surprise” report claiming a find of pre-Hispanic remains in the area of the little house known as La Maleza.  In fact men with clipboards could be seen walking the site on the public holiday known as Finaos, or Halloween, last October 31st, who it had been thought were diligent members of the town council, but now it appears they may in fact have been members of the Cabildo’s heritage department firming up details for their report which was published a month later.

Siam Park Gran Canaria Plano-General.-Toboganes-y-PiscinasThe Mayor of San Bartolomé de Tirajana has publicly criticised the new report, particularly in light of two other relatively recent and exhaustive environmental reports (the PMM of El Veril and Environmental Impact report prepared for the shelved Train line project) which did not find any significant traces of such remains.

Mayor Marco Aurelio Pérez Sánchez declared on Tuesday that there was “great concern and unease” within the San Bartolomé de Tirajana Town Hall due to probable stoppage of the large Siam Park Maspalomas construction project, due to these actions from the Cabildo’s own Heritage Service reporting the unexpected appearance of alleged pre-Hispanic vestiges in the area.

The mayor denounced the report, signed by the Cabildo’s Minister of Culture, Carlos Ruiz Moreno (NC), which he said was sent by surprise to the Town Council “just at the moment when the permits are being processed for the beginning of works on the new theme park”, and warned that in his opinion “partisan interests” were behind the report in an attempt to derail the project once again.

The mayor expressed intrigue that the Cabildo Heritage report, “made curiously last December 7, amid two holidays,” claiming that it “was a studied [attempt], conscientiously made, [in order] to stop the investment.”

rp-posicion-ayun-siam-park-6The mayor continued in his attack saying that “Island society must be aware what the Cabildo is doing by paralysing investments in Gran Canaria. The Siam Park construction files began to be processed in September 2014, and we have been waiting for the sectoral reports of the Insular Water [Authority] and Cabildo Highways department for more than a year and a half, so as to be able to issue permits and start construction. We know that since last October 23 the report that authorizes the channeling of the ravine of El Veril has been signed, by the highways department, but it has not yet been sent to the town council. In the Cabildo the requested reports have been delayed by the NC, who have done everything they could to prevent the Town Council from giving the license, and when at last those reports have come it is preceded with [new information on] this pre-Hispanic deposit.”

Risking Investment

Marco Aurelio Pérez argues that these actions “make it clear that the enemy of Gran Canaria is in Gran Canaria, and it is the Cabildo governed by NC, a party that has also hindered the Plans for Improvement and Modernization of San Bartolomé de Tirajana and Mogán,”

“…partisan politicking, aims to paralyse this important investment of 60 million euros that would develop a theme park in the south of Gran Canaria and would increase the competitiveness of our island…”he continued.

The eleventh hour report in question calls for preventive or protective measures in the area of La Maleza and for it to be included in the updated inventory of archaeological sites on Gran Canaria, primarily due to evidence of pre-hispanic vestiges that it terms as “extremely fragile” such as two natural caves, a stone construction, and notably evidence of malacological fauna remains, including molluscs like winkles and limpets.

The mayor says that he fully expects the Cabildo will once again halt the project, but has warned that he will be seeking verification of the findings, suggesting that political opportunism is more to blame than any real desire to preserve a hitherto unnoticed archeological site containing long dead seashells.

The mayor pointed out that the Siam Park project in Maspalomas has been considered as strategic by the Government of the Canary Islands and by the Cabildo of Gran Canaria, which is why, he says, he does not understand “that the Cabildo now comes with treachery … to paralyse the license. This was a studied [action] conscientiously [attempting] to paralyze the investment, “he says.

“Stopping the construction of the water park is a measure that threatens the creation of direct jobs and hinders increases for the island’s tourism competitiveness.”