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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Rep. Nogales: Forests in south of San Juan are at risk of vanishing

Rep. Mariana Nogales Molinelli(Facebook)

By The Star Staff

Citizens' Victory Movement (MVC) Rep. Mariana No-gales Mol i nel Ii warned on Wednesday that much of the remaining forested area in the south of San Juan could soon disappear due to a series of construction projects that will replace green areas with concrete.

The legislator said her office identified at least 13 proj-ects that include 300 new single-family housing units, two collection centers and a landfil I, as wel I as more than 990,000 square meters of cement.

"All these projects are presented as 'development' in the most positive terms, but when you look at the whole picture what you really have is a chaotic, disconnected and destruc-tive urbanization process," Nogales Molinelli said in a written statement. "It does not respond to a plan to meet the needs of the population, to maintain a healthy relationship with the environmentorto strengthen us in the face of climate change."

The deforestation in San Juan will exacerbate the effect of the "Urban Heat Island" that is already present in the north of the municipality, the legislator said.

"In 2011, San Juan had temperatures up to 7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than rural areas, a difference that is even greater compared to forested areas," Nogales Molinelli said. "This effect is attributed to the fact that building materials such as concrete, cement and asphalt retain more of the heat produced during the day and release it at night, increasing the temperature not only during the day but also after sunset."

The legislator high I ighted several projects under construc-tion, including the Ensuefio Project, with 89 units of public housing; Montehiedra Reserve, with 22 luxury mansions; and Paseo La Cima, with 104 walkup housing units. In addition, she noted the eight acres owned by a company belonging to island Secretary of State Omar Marrero Df az's family, Martel Inc., which she said have been deforested without permits.

"We know that there is a need for affordable housing, but our approach is that continuing to expand the urban sprawl is not the solution," Nogales Molinelli said. "Instead, we must rescue all those abandoned spaces in urban centers and plan a city that meets the needs of all people. This is not an impos-sible dream. It may be a reality, but for this to happen, there needs to be a willingness in the government and the agencies to do the work of planning and enforcing the laws that protect that planning."

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