By Jesús Aguado
After six months of renovation, Parque Benito Juárez has been reopened, and people can decide for themselves if the government fulfilled its plan of restoring the park to its Golden Age. The renovation, followed a master plan that includes new guidelines for providing security for the park’s users and neighbors. The investment was 15 million pesos, the burden of which was shared by the municipal and state governments.
When the restoration began six months ago, the plan was to restore the park’s original esthetic, using architectural structural styles and materials evoking the era when the park opened in 1905. The park gardens were also replanted with plants native to the park.
“With this renovation we want to recoup the old glory of the park and create a space worthy of entertaining the residents of San Miguel,” said Mayor Luis Alberto Villarreal.
The five renovation stages were performed as follows:
•Pavement reconstruction, which included pathways, grounds, cement structures, and the removal of concrete and other similar aggregate building materials.
•Restoration of cantera (stone) structures, including fountains, pillars, gates, and staircases. The park’s original architectural elements were preserved, and additions in different styles were eliminated.
•Restoration of the bridge on calle José Guadalupe Mojica, which had major structural damage that Civil Protection Department officials said was a risk to drivers.
•Structural consolidation of the park’s canyon slopes, whose containment walls were repaired using vintage materials where possible to reconstruct them and to provide stability and protection for the trees.
•Improvement of the sports areas, including the installation of new competition-level scoreboards and adequate lighting for games.
Local government data indicated that this is one of the current administration’s most significant public work projects.
More than 100-years-old, the park covers 2.8 hectares and is arguably Centro’s only large green space featuring native and nonnative plants and trees, thanks to the Feria de la Candelaria, a more than 50-year-old city tradition. Vendors at this large plant sale, which occurs every February, were not charged city taxes on its sales for many years. In exchange, they donated trees and plants to the municipality, which ended up in Parque Juárez and in the nearby El Chorro area.
As a result, more than 4,500 plants can be found in the park or in its vicinity, including jacarandas, peach, laurels, pepper trees, tules (Montezuma cypress), and palm trees. There are walking paths among the park’s fountains, bridges, basketball court, playground, and gazebo where the gardens can be enjoyed.
The park is a local meeting place steeped in art, culture, and history. El Chorro, located along one edge of the park, is the site where the town of San Miguel de los Chichimecas was founded 475 years ago.