By Bruce Cook
In January, 2020 I made a proposal to the Historical and Heritage Areas of the Canton of supplying Memorial Benches to the city. The proposal was well received and we proceeded to locate 72 appropriate sites for placement. The director then forwarded a letter of recommendation for approval of the project to The General Manager of the Municipal Cleaning Company (EMAC EP). I received an invitation to give a formal presentation on Thursday, March 5th, 2020. That was the week the lockdown for Covid started and the presentation never occurred. Three months later, the week just before the lockdown ended, I received a letter of rejection. The letter mistakenly cited a number of misunderstandings on their part due to my not being allowed to make a formal presentation.
The proposal forwarded to the Municipality from the Historical Department had 72 proposed placements throughout the city, strictly on Historic property. The rejection letter states “The plan for the construction and placement of decorative memorial benches along the banks of the Tomebamba river, in the Hotel Oro Verde sector.” This indicates that they never understood the proposal in the first place and then further stated, “The maintenance of the 72 benches with commemorative plaques on behalf of the foreign citizens deceased in the city of Cuenca, being furniture of character are prone to vandalism, and consideration of driving and management is required the same when the relatives if the deceased leave the city. Furthermore, the process of placing a “commemorative plaques on behalf of the foreign citizens is to come from the municipal cemetery of Cuenca.” Why? They have never been in contact with the cemetery in any manner.
My project proposed to encompass all of Cuenca and its residents, not just Gringos in the Hotel Oro Verde area.
I have a website titled MemorialBenchesForEcuador that is in English and Spanish. I have a partner who is Ecuadorian to assist the ‘Spanish speaking clients. In the website I explain the various purposes of the benches. People have expressed buying them in the name of a pet that has passed. And others have expressed that they would like to purchase one as a gift to the city for the experience of having lived here knowing that the benches will be here long after they are gone.
The need for more public seating is enormous. You can walk from Av. Huayan Capac to Hospital Del Rio and back up the other side and never see a bench, except for those in the new Parque Eucalyptus.
I recently talked to a friend that had heart surgery. He was saying that the doctor wanted him to exercise by walking. The river is next to his home, but there is no place for him to rest. The few rocks and stumps are far and few. Sitting on the ground is not an option for the elderly.
This program has been implemented in thousands of cities around the world. It is good for the people and it is good for the cities.
Come on Cuenca, get with the times! How can you go wrong with free? Please reconsider my formal proposal for a program of memorial benches.