Construction could begin by the end of year of the largest public park in Cuenca’s historic district. According to the city planning department, the four-acre park will be built on land currently occupied by the old city prison and several adjacent properties purchased by the city. The bidding process is currently underway, officials say.
Planning director Boris Albornoz believes the park, Parque La Libertad, will transform an area of the historic district that has long been neglected. “This will be a fabulous addition to the area,” Albornoz says. “It will add green space, playgrounds, restaurants, stores and a city service center and make the neighborhood one of the most desirable in Cuenca. The neighborhood will change from being considered dangerous and run-down to a vibrant district that residents and tourists will want to visit.”
Albornoz added that the park will have as much, or more, impact on the city as the San Francisco Plaza renovation project, currently underway.
The $7-million project, located just south of Av. Heroes de Verdeloma at Juan Montalvo, will include recreational facilities, green areas, a movie theater, cafes, a reading room, children’s game room, gymnasium, day care center, bathrooms and a city utilities service center. In addition, there will be a large central fountain, performance gazebo, and a seven-story observation tower built on the northeast corner of the property. Including the observation tower, there will be two other buildings in the park, housing businesses and city offices.
Area residents say they look forward to park. During the 50-year operation of the city prison, the neighborhood was considered one of the most dangerous in the city. “We were afraid to let our children out to play because of the the people who hung around the jail. Everything here seemed dirty and forgotten,” said one resident. “The park will change everything. We cannot wait.”