Barrio residents block the demolition of a community center, say they were not consulted by the city
Residents of the El Cebollar / Mutualista Azuay neighborhood are blaming Mayor Pedro Palacios for the partial demolition of a community education center. Heavy equipment began knocking down walls of the center before daylight Tuesday but were stopped by angry neighbors who blocked the work.
“We were not consulted about this and because they started the work at 5 in the morning it is clear they wanted to destroy the building while people were asleep,” said Juan Diego Larrea, president of the Mutualista Azuay neighborhood association. “The city told us they wanted to build a new market but did not say they would tear down the community center to do it. We hold the mayor responsible for the destruction.”
Larrea said the center had recently renamed the El Cebollar Knowledge Center since it was used by students when schools were closed during the Covid-19 pandemic. “We brought in computers so the children could complete their homework there,” he said. “Volunteers were helped them with their assignments.”
He added that the center was also used for community meetings and other public events.
During the day Tuesday, neighborhood residents established a roadblock on Abelardo Andrade Avenue to protest the city action and by late afternoon a construction crew of residents was busy rebuilding walls demolished earlier. “We will rebuild what the city destroyed,” Larrea said.
At a morning news conference, Palacios denied any knowledge of the demolition despite the fact the demolition crews were contracted by the city. “I was not told about this until this morning. I don’t have anything to do with it and you’ll need to talk to the contractors to find out what happened,” he said.
The mayor said that recent talks regarding a new produce market in the neighborhood had not come to a final agreement. “I was aware of this but am as surprised as anyone else about what happened this morning. We will find out what happened.”