The architectural consultants hired by the city of Cuenca to redesign San Francisco Plaza will hold what they say is the final meeting to discuss the plan on Wednesday but the merchants who currently sell their goods in the square say the talk is just beginning.
“Our position is to say no to the draft plan,” said John Gonzalez, chairman of Merchants Plaza San Francisco. “Much more work remains until this can be considered final,” he said.
The Otavalo vendors, located on the verandas of the north side of the plaza, also object to the new plan. Rafael de la Torre, spokesman for the Otavaleño traders, said one meeting will not be enough to review all the issues that need to be discussed. “We may need many meetings to find a solution to all the problems that the plan presents.”
The vendor’s major objection to the city’s redesign, says Gonzalez, are the proposed movable sales kiosks. Currently, vendors have permanent steel and wood structures that occupy about half of the square. “We want permanent sales stations,” he says. “Temporary structures will not work.” He suggests a design similar to that in the Rotary Market between Marsical Lamar and Gaspar Sangurima. “Those are permanent structures and they are very attractive,” Gonzalez says.
The city’s proposed plan wants to reduce the amount of space that vendors currently occupy and clear the entire plaza at night for public events.
The vendors also object to the elimination of parking in the square, saying it will hurt their business traffic. The new plan calls for building a public parking facility three blocks from the square.
Other objections include the lack of green space in the square. Several private architects have referred to the plan as “barren” and “lifeless.” The consultants say, however, that the plan maintains the look of the original plaza, opened more than 200 years ago.
The vendors say they are scheduling meetings with the Azuay governer’s office and individual city council members to privately discuss the plan. In October, Gonzalez said his group was prepared to go to court, if necessary, to stop the project.
Wednesday’s meeting will be at 6 p.m. in the faculty of philosophy auditorium on the University of Cuenca campus.