• The San Juan Daily Star

Public acquisition of Luquillo land for conversation begins

Rep. Carlos “Johnny” Méndez Núñez

By John McPhaul

Rep. Carlos “Johnny” Méndez Núñez, the New Progressive Party delegation minority leader in the island House of Representatives, met late last week with Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) Secretary Rafael Machargo Maldonado and residents of the Fortuna 1 community in the Mameyes neighborhood of Luquillo to begin the process of purchasing land in the area to protect its ecological value.

“Last Thursday we held an extensive meeting … to finalize the action plan aimed at the preservation of around four acres of land located in the area of Parcel 162,” Méndez Núñez said Sunday. “This is something that we started in 2008 when we settled and finally we were able to sign Joint Resolution 92 of August 2008 into law, which establishes that these lands will be acquired for their conservation.”

Before the conclave, the former House speaker emphasized the matter in a meeting at La Fortaleza.

“We discussed the matter with the secretary and it was determined that the department would initiate the process of purchasing that property in Fortuna 1,” said the lawmaker, who represents District 36 (Río Grande, Luquillo, Fajardo, Ceiba, Vieques and Culebra). “The funds that will be used for the acquisition, once the corresponding process is completed, will come from federal allocations associated with the [American] Rescue Plan Act of 2021, signed on March 11, 2021. With that we managed to protect these lands for the enjoyment of the community and future generations.”

At the meeting, held in Méndez Núñez’s office in the Capitol, the DNER chief announced that he had ordered the development of a new land demarcation for the aforementioned parcel.

Machargo Maldonado also ordered the DNER’s permit office to begin the appraisal process for the eventual acquisition of the land.

“This area under discussion is an open one that constantly facilitates the flow of people, impacting the ecological value of the land,” Méndez Núñez said. “The effects of coastal erosion in the region and the urgency to act to conserve it is obvious. The coming acquisition of these lands is great news for everyone.”

The legislator said he will continue meeting with area residents to identify more alternatives to improve the quality of life and conservation of the region.

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