Monday, February 10, 2014

A Flower Market At Melvin Jones? Bad Idea!

A news story in the February 7 edition of the Sun Star Baguio carried the headline "City Mulls Permanency of Stalls at Melvin Jones". I immediately felt alarmed because I believe that this is a really bad idea. Putting commercial stalls in public parks is generally a bad idea. Remember what happened to Mines View Park before? The presence of stalls really got out of hand over there which ultimately tainted the park's reputation. The same thing could happen to the Melvin Jones area if this plan by city hall pushes through.

Before you get the wrong idea, the city government is not planning on installing flower stalls in the middle of the Melvin Jones Football Grounds. The space being considered is the stretch of flower beds and boxes that run alongside Harrison Road. This is the stretch of space just outside the newly-built fence. If you ever walked along the sidewalk there, then you know how that space looks.

As one of the city's main thoroughfares, you would think that the flower beds are well-planted and well-taken care of. However, this is not the case. Many of the iron railings that are supposed to protect the flowers are in disrepair. Speaking of flowers, you won't find robust flowers there either. The place is brown and barren. It makes you wonder what the CEPMO (City Environment and Parks Management Office) is doing. The CEPMO office is just a walk away from the area. Are they too blind to see those barren beds that are filled not with flowers but with dust?

Needless to say, this is saddening because Harrison Road as we mentioned earlier is highly-trafficked thus the empty flower beds and boxes are seen by thousands of people everyday. What does that say about this city that's known for it's natural beauty? We can't even beautify one of our busiest streets. Yet whenever a city official talks about tourism in the city, he/she can't stop talking about beautification. Where's your beautification? Where?

Now back to the city's plan of permanently putting flower vendors on the spaces separating Harrison Road and Melvin Jones. This is a very bad idea. Allowing flower vendors to occupy and do business in the area will do more harm than good. Allow me to explain why.

1) There's the HUGE concern with regards to keeping the area clean. Look, selling flowers can be very messy. Dead leaves, dead twigs, waste water, etc. A lot of these can accumulate at the end of the day. Where will all of these go?

2) Before you know it, there will be stalls selling burgers, pirated DVDs, street foods, and all sorts of stuff. Things can get really ugly. You can say that the police will be around to make sure that every vendor is selling only flowers as mandated. No offense but the Baguio Police is not exactly the most competent police force around. They can't even eradicate the vendors selling illegal discs along Session Road. This is not to mention the fact that these vendors are hawking their wares in broad daylight.So you can't blame me or anyone who have doubts about this.

3) The area can turn into an eye sore. Right now, the area is an open space as it always has been. There's no roof or anything covering it. If flower stalls are going to be placed there, sooner or later giant beach umbrellas and tolda will be sprouting all over the place. If vendors are going to sell there, they wouldn't want to be exposed to the sun's heat or the rain, will they? Again, the place will get ugly.

4) I can only imagine what the place will look like at night when the vendors pack things up before going home. I'm guessing they'll be leaving their flowers there covered in plastic sheets, tolda, or tarpaulin. The sidewalks of Harrison Road will look like a bodega at night. Not very encouraging at all.

5) What's our public market for? I'm sure they have space there to accommodate our flower sellers.

City Hall cited beautification (this term is getting overused already) as among the main reasons why they are mulling on permanently putting flower vendors there. They used the phrase "added attraction". I disagree. It will only contribute to the eye sores in the city.

City Hall should instead order the CEPMO to get off their butts and ACTUALLY plant flowers on the flower beds and boxes there. If I'm a tourist, a live flower rooted to the ground will attract me more compared to one that's been cut and has a price tag attached to it.