Vega Alta residents decry proposal to build tourist attraction in floodplain
By John McPhaul
The announcement by María Vega, the New Progressive Party candidate for mayor of Vega Alta, to build an agritourism complex on the grounds of the old Carmen Central sugar mill where the famous chiminea, a local icon, is located has caused consternation among residents of the town.
Residents learned of the proposal from a campaign poster located in the vicinity of the Carmen Central, an antique sugar mill.
Vegalteños are well aware that the area is flood prone, since it is on the banks of the Cibuco River, which floods in times of heavy rain.
“I was very surprised that María Vega [is making this proposal],” said Carmen Ramos, a resident of the sector. “It must be that since she is not from here, she does not know that it is flooded.”
In recent days, a municipal team was on land parallel to highway PR-2 cleaning the area as part of the rigorous work in the hurricane season.
“To win votes they promise anything, but it floods there,” added Ramos’ niece, a resident of the Bajura neighborhood who has known the reality of the land around Carmen Central since she was a child.
In fact, a study called the Vega Alta Territorial Plan, prepared in 2010 by the Technical Studies firm at the request of the Municipality of Vega Alta and then-Mayor Isabelo “Chabelo” Molina, specified on page 27 that the land where the project would be built in the area known as Bajura is within the floodplain.