In what had been billed as the last major review of the plan to rebuild Cuenca’s San Francisco Plaza, several public officials stepped forward with strong objections during a Wednesday meeting on the University of Cuenca campus.
The University of Cuenca architectural consultants who developed the plan found themselves on the defensive for much of Wednesday’s meeting, answering questions about the movable vendor kiosks and the lack of green areas and nearby parking.
One architect insisted the the plaza have a large central fountain, similar to the one built there in 1782.
Although the merchants who currently occupy the plaza were on record for their opposition to several of the features of the new design, particularly the movable kiosks, most officials had offered few public objections before Wednesday.
Mayor Marcelo Cabrera, who was instrumental in hiring the consultants, said he had serious doubts about the logistics of moving the kiosks onto the square at night and off of it at night. “This needs a closer look,” he said. “It looks like a work-intensive operation.”
Despite the criticism, there appeared to be no consensus about the ultimate goal of the redesign. Independent architects and several city council members maintained that the plaza should be place for the public, for events and for relaxing, while merchants insisted that it should remain primarily a commercial area. Merchants are opposed to converting two of the streets bordering the plaza to pedestrian malls, insisting that there be parking directly on the plaza.
Cabrera and city council members asked the consultants to rework the plan in light of the objections, setting a new deadline of April 12.