Who Watches Over San Miguel?
By Jesús Aguado
On the road to Dr. Mora, a water park is under construction, as well as a development that will house up to 20,000 people. In February this year, when the city council approved the change of land use from agricultural to habitable, it also authorized the construction of the water park.
When these new sites were approved, neither the social activists nor ecologists nor those concerned with the orderly growth of San Miguel showed up—not even those who later, in August and September, were against the changes in the Urban Development Plan and Ecological Zoning. Those who “defended” San Miguel or, better said, who voted against the permits for the water park were the PAN city councilors: Gabriela Rodríguez, Fernando García, and Osvaldo García; and José Luis Zavala Rosiles (independent city councilor). However, the work was approved with eight votes.
The argument that the opposing city councilors gave at the city council meeting was that there is a lack of water in the upper zone of the city; they could not approve a project that would waste water when there are rural communities near the water park that do not have running water. Then city councilor Zavala Rosiles commented that they would file a criminal complaint in order to cancel the agreements from the meeting and avoid the construction of these places. Officially, they did not file the criminal complaint and did not even mention the topic of the housing development.
This “touristic” water park and the housing project will finally diversify the attractions of San Miguel beyond the urban area, something that has not been possible for a long time.
For Atención, Carlos Koloffon, corporate director of the company developing the attraction, commented that in the nine hectares that they are developing, there is a well with six-inch pipes, and the water was used to irrigate more than 140 hectares of plants. The grant for the exploitation of the well was issued by the National Commission of Water, which will be in charge of supervising the attraction, according to Édgar Bautista, former director of Urban Development, who will be in charge of supervising the attraction.
“All of our permits are legal,” said Koloffon Lara, and he also assured that the park will offer hydrotherapy, dolphins, toboggans, pools, saunas, sharks, and manta rays. About the quantity of water that they would use for the park—although they did not specify how often it would be changed—he said that since the water is in motion all the time, it passes through a self-cleaning process and they would use chemicals, as well, to clean it. “The water could stay there for years,” said Koloffon Lara.
The corporate director also stated that when they change the water from the spaces, it would be used for irrigating the green areas after being treated in a water treatment plant. The park is currently offering 100 jobs, and when it is finished, it will employ 200 people, plus more during high seasons.
The representatives of the company assured that the park is targeted to the middle class, and they want to attract tourism from San Luis Potosí, Querétaro, and other cities around the state, as well as giving San Miguel a new asset. They said that the total investment is not clear yet because most of the equipment will be imported, and the cost will depend on the dollar currency.
Adjacent to the park, Cumbres de San Miguel—the new housing development—is being urbanized. Rubén Conchas, administrator of the project, commented that the place has been divided into 4,300 plots. Each plot will be 112 square meters, and the land use authorized by the city council is H2, which means that each house can shelter 5.5 inhabitants. Conchas assured that they will not sell houses, just the plots, but they will have some model homes that the company could construct for the customers. The land will have all the public services as well as urbanization.
The new houses, remarked Conchas—respecting all the regulations—will be connected to water treatment plants, and the water will be used in green spaces. He also said that the company is respecting the federal and state laws as well as the local regulations. For that reason, they have transplanted and reforested some areas in the city with more than 20,000 endemic species. The total number of inhabitants in the new site would be 23,550 people in the next 15 years. It will include a supermarket like Mega, Soriana, or Superama.
Koloffon Lara said that the Splash Group belongs to the Guanajuatense Pérez family that started the commercialization of appliances with the Ryse chain 54 years ago. They decided 20 years ago to start developing water parks and constructed Splash in León, another one in Puerto Vallarta, and now the new one in San Miguel. The State Secretariat of Touristic Development is supporting this new San Miguel asset. In a press release he informed that … “It will be a first-level attraction, the most modern in Mexico,” assuring that the managers have the commitment and energy to give the best offers to their clients. The park will open in April next year.
The change of land use from agricultural to H2 (housing and commercial) for the development promoted by Inmobiliaria RIACE S.A de C.V, was authorized, according to the Secretary of the City Council, Gonzalo González, on February 18 of this year. The agreement was approved with seven votes from the members of the PRI party and one from PAN (Javier Álvarez). The housing development would not be Cumbres de San Miguel but Veneros de San Miguel.
On the web page change.org is a letter addressed to the city council, requesting “a halt to the water park with or without dolphins.” The letter is electronically signed by Observatorio Ciudadano de San Miguel de Allende.
The representatives from the water park told Atención that they got all the permits from the SEMARNAT (Federal Environmental Authority) to have the animals there. They also said that the reproduction of one dolphin and a sea lion had occurred (in captivity) in León.
Gonzalo González made it clear that his office had not received any letters (physically) from Observatorio Ciudadano. However, González stated that correspondence should be addressed to the federal authorities, such as the National Commission of Water, as well as to PROFEPA (Federal Bureau of Environmental Protection). The secretary said that whoever hands over the letter will receive assistance.
Abelardo Quero, director of the Urban Development Department, commented that the park representatives have been summoned by the local administration to compare all the permits they have because there are some missing from the administration documents. If the owners of the new attraction cannot prove that all the permits were granted by the 2012-2015 administration, the works could be halted. “We are not against investments, but they ought to be legal,” said González.
The deadline for the RIACE to show the permits to the local administration was Thursday, November 19.
“We have all the permits, and we will give you copies,” Carlos Koloffon, RIASE Corporate Director, told Atención.
These are the permits granted by the former city council (2012-2015), for Splash and Veneros de San Miguel.