BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan pointed out that the local government remains form on its earlier stand supporting the sustainable preservation and protection of the tree park near the Baguio Convetion Center which is owned by the State-owned Government Service Insurance Corporation (GSIS) to help strike a balance in the state of the city’s environment and the implementation of private and public development projects in the different parts of the city.
The local chief executive pointed out that the tree park near the city’s premier convention facility is the only remaining breathing space in the city’s central business district area that is why it should no longer be developed because it might contribute to the overcrowding of structures right in the heart of the city in the future.
“We attempted to purchased the property using our available resources so that the local government will be the one to maintain it as a tree park and further improve its status but our efforts to do so were in vain,” Domogan stressed.
He narrated that last year, the local government wrote GSIS management insinuating the city’s intention to purchase the property at an initial cost of P300 million.
However, GSIS responded that the prevailing market value in the said area is more than P434 million that is why it is willing to sell to the local government the said property at the said purchase price.
According to him, instead of trying to bargain for a lower purchase price, the local government notified the GSIS management that it is willing to purchase the tree park at the fixed price and that the city was willing to formalize the supposed transaction at the earliest possible time using available resources of the city.
Ironically, the GSIS responded to the offer by again increasing the purchase price to P670 million in a span of only two months that compelled the local government to study its options on the mater considering the varying positions of the state insurance corporation on the matter.
Domogan explained that the local government’s desire to eventually purchase the property was virtually shelved when GSIS management communicated to city officials that it was no longer interested to sell the property considering that it intends to maximize the utilization of its prime property for the greater interest of the corporation which now keeps city officials guessing on what kind of development is being desired in the said area.
It can be recalled that when the GSIS entered into a joint venture agreement with SM Development and Investments Corporation for the put up of a 21-storey condotel in the said property, the local government and various sectors raised stiff opposition on the implementation of the project that will have a series negative impact on the state of the city’s environment because there will be no more breathing spaces in the heart of the city that will maintain a balance in the city’s air quality aggravated by the enormous traffic congestions that will be created by the huge volume of motor vehicles and pedestrians patronizing the condotel structures.
Domogan remains optimistic that GSIS management will respect the local government’s position against the put up of high rise structures in the tree park that could result to the cutting of the remaining patches of trees in the area.
By Dexter A. See
Banner photo by: Armando M. Bolislis