Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Boys From The Blue Stuff

"Gissa job." "Gissa quarter of a million or so euros." "Ta, very much." "Here, have this blue tarmac." Ah but, it's not tarmac, it's asphalt. No, no, it's not even asphalt, it's a special flexible pavement. And what is a special flexible pavement, pray tell? One that bends, one that is capable of changing into something else?

Special flexible pavement is what the Partido Popular-led administration at Alcúdia town hall maintain is what now exists at the back of the beach in Puerto Alcúdia. However the town hall wishes to bend the pavement in its flexible spin way, the result is hideous. What in God's name were they thinking? Did they think? Or did the contractors (Vías y Obras Públicas SA - VOPSA) have a job-lot of blue asphalt they needed to get rid of, and were they happy to walk away with two hundred and eighty-two thousand, nine hundred and ten euros and eighty-three centimos in return for dumping it on top of what had been artisan-crafted stones which used to form the pavement? Put it this way, the company says on its website that it has been responsible for cycling routes, and some of those, e.g. in Puerto Pollensa, are blue. Hmm.

But blue is the colour, not because there were some leftovers, but because it is the colour of the sea. Which indeed it is. On the other hand, it isn't the colour of sand or beach. If you'd been told that vandals had gone along one night and painted a river of blue onto the sand, you probably wouldn't be surprised, given what the result is.

They make a habit in Alcúdia of committing atrocities in the name of urban landscaping. Take the bridge from nowhere on the promenade. An oasis ... among palms ... pergolas reminiscent of a series of ships in the harbour. I won't bother giving you the whole architectural description of this pile of wood, but architects have a habit of dressing up the mutton of their creations with the lamb of poetry. How about the redevelopment of the old power station that almost certainly won't now happen? A clearing in the forest was just one part of the lyricism that explained its architectural fineness. Nothing about knocking the thing down and starting all over. More mundane are the geometric-shaped blocks of what are asphalt on the the promenade. Yellowy, browny, orangey. What are they? What is the point of them? Alcúdia has form when it comes to coloured asphalt. Or special flexible pavement, if you prefer.

I smell, I'm afraid, a very large rat where the beach's blue river of asphalt is concerned. An Ironman rat. About to be staged for the third time, the running leg goes along the beach path. For runners, the old, eroding stones were far from ideal. But the path was not created with runners in mind. It was created to be, oddly enough, a path. One that blended in, one with a degree of artistic and artisanal elegance. What's the betting that the Ironman competition might have found a different location had there not been a running track laid in time for this year's event? Because that's more or less what there now is.

Being blue rather than sandy-coloured, all the sand is going to show up. It's likely to get trampled into the special flexible pavement, thus polluting the river into a bluey-browny-sandy shade. Then there's the sun, which has a habit of making things change colour. Still, as the tourism councillor points out, there is a similar blue path on the Barceloneta beach (in Barcelona). Perhaps there is, but if it's the only other one, maybe this is because other town hall tourism councillors have taken a look at it and concluded that it looks naff.

Over a quarter of a million euros for a running track. It's as well that Alcúdia town hall has been racking up the surplus that it has announced (notwithstanding its debt as well). Add on the quarter of a million euros for so-called improvements to the Bellevue Mile, and you are left to wonder. This project hasn't changed the look of the Mile, the bridge railings have been improved, but otherwise, what has been the point of it? A few benches have been installed, which, as one restaurant owner has observed, can be used for cheapskate tourists to sit on with their all-inclusive carry-outs or bottles of San Miguel from a supermarket or for the hair-braiding ladies to find another place to ply their trade.

More than half a million spent, and they've managed to make things worse. That is quite an achievement.

Any comments to please.

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