Uncompleted works and what they could be
By Antonio De Jesús Aguado
Several local public works started with the intention of improving the main accesses to the city; others began to attract international quality events or to eradicate the pollution generated by slaughterhouse. These works have been abandoned and are under investigation because of alleged embezzlement of millions of pesos. Although some of these works are in their last phases of construction, the current local administration has stated that not one single penny will be invested in works that “were corrupted” since the beginning.
The railway station
In 2010, the administration of Mayor Luz María Núñez Flores started the processes for “recovering” the zone where the former railway station building was not in use. The idea was to turn it into a center for art and culture. In subsequent stages, access to the city would also be improved, as well as the houses nearby, in order to kick off tourism in the area, which would improve the inhabitants’ quality of life.
In March 2012, during the ceremony of placing the foundation stone for restoring the place, Édgar Guillaumín, director of Institutional Affairs of Kansas City Southern—the company that owns the station—said that to get the bailment agreement for a 15-year period, the local administration had to fulfill a number of requirements. These were handed over one-by-one with no problems. In February of the same year, the local administration got 11 million pesos from the FONCA (National Fund for Culture and Arts) to be invested in the restoration of the building and surrounding areas, and in March the works began, scheduled to conclude in September 2012. The restoration consisted of replacing the roof and repairing the stone walls, wooden structures and floors. The local government did internal and external restoration to prepare the building for housing a museum. Outside a park would be created with the theme of trains.
Nuñez’s dream museum with the history of the city” was going to be a train-themed cultural center. It was “very sanmiguelense.” The idea was to recreate experiences and memories of San Miguel de Allende from the ’30s to the ’80s, a time when many memorable figures came to the city by train. There would also be a railroad car that people could enter and historical information. With the help of citizens, the museum would be set up through donation of historic material about trains, such as photographs.
Although there was also a project that included improving of the esplanade in front the building and five million pesos for accomplishing it, the work was not possible because the land does not belong to Kansas City Southern. The owner wanted to sell the land at an exorbitant price. No agreements were made, and the administration lost the financial resources. Mayor Mauricio Trejo told Atención that there are many projects for the railway station, but he made it clear that nothing can be done without ownership of the contested ground. He says that his administration is trying to buy it, but if that is not possible, they will try an expropriation.
In 2005, during Jesus Correa’s administration, the city council decided to build a new slaughterhouse and approved it at a cost of 25 million pesos from the state and local budget. The construction of the building, situated on the road to Dr. Mora, started in 2007. Alí Patlán, legal coordinator of the current administration, said that in 2010, the administration in turn decided to change the work (without an executive project) and build a TIF (Federal Inspection Type) slaughterhouse, increasing the price from 25 to 60 million pesos. The slaughterhouse (rastro), states Patlán, has several anomalies that attracted the Órgano de Fiscalización Superior, OFS (State Control Superior Organism) to conduct inspections. This office found out that the building does not fulfill the standards for being a TIF establishment. The legal coordinator said in addition that the administration is currently gathering the necessary proof to file a criminal complaint for bribery because the work was performed without executive project authorization due to the inflated prices and the involvement of too many companies in construction. The analysis performed by the administration has 90 per cent been completed and Patlán expects to have finish it in less than one month.
On the other hand, Rodrigo Maldonado, director of the Public Works Department, said that even if the work was not being done under inspection, the rastro could not be opened because it does not have a wastewater treatment plant and the electrical work is incomplete.
The slowdown on this work has caused the state’s work on the community center in Cuevitas, which is in its second phase, to be behind. Once the new rastro opens, the building from the current rastro will be added to the Cuevitas complex.
San Carlos forum
A band shell was also a project from the past administration headed by Núñez. With this construction, she previously told Atención, international-quality events could be attracted in order to increase the tourism. It was to have a capacity of 10 thousand people. The project would cost 21 million pesos. Construction was in charge of Tegusa S.A de C.V.
In January 2013, the administration stopped this work because the tubular structure was bent by the weight of the concrete, and it could collapse. The city council approved the hiring of a specialist in structures who will determine the risks of using of the infrastructure and the financial viability of its completion. An auditor was also hired to find out if the public budget is due damages.
The same month, the administration filled a criminal complaint of alleged embezzlement related to the construction. The case attracted the concern of the Specialized Agency of Crimes Committed by Public Servants. Alí Patlán commented that the legal case is still in progress. In July his office sent 19 boxes of documents to the agency for the investigation.
The former city hall building
This building, situated in front of the Jardín Principal, was occupied as administrative offices until May 2006, when they moved to the road to Querétaro. The only room in the old city hall that remained in use is the council chamber. This building and the former municipal jail were restored in 2010 at a cost of 33 million pesos with the idea of opening a museum of traditions. However, after the restoration, the museum was not launched, and eventually it was occupied by administrative offices again.
Finally, in May of this year, a project for converting this building into an open public space that would shelter international art was presented by New York architect Enrique Norten. According to the architect, the building will hold an amphitheater to be used for a wide variety of events. Within the amphitheater there will be a salon with a capacity of 50 people for showing experimental films and other videos. The new museum will also include galleries that could attract the best exhibitions of art from around the world. The rooftop of the city hall will be opened as a sculpture garden, and there will be a cafeteria or a bar with the best panoramic view of the city.
María José Garrido, director of Tourism, Economic Development and International Affairs, said that currently there is no money for performing the works, but she is trying along with the local administration to get the finances from public and private sectors.