This Will Make an Impact on the City
By Jesús Aguado
Facing an administration without money—a regular situation every three years—was the main challenge of the public servants who direct the destiny of San Miguel de Allende. Once they overcame it and looked toward the beginning of a new year, some of the directors talked with Atención about projects that will benefit both the city and its citizens this year.
Norberto Carbajo, director of Environment and Ecology, commented that the main challenge he faced in the first three months of this administration was having a department without vehicles to perform inspections and to investigate requests from citizens. Nevertheless, every problem was solved.
This year, remarked Carbajo, he will target efforts for environmental promotion and education. In addition, he said he is already signing agreements with state and federal authorities so the department can participate in inspection and surveillance as well as issuing fines to the kilns.
For many years, administrations have tried to relocate the kilns in Parque Ladrillero on the new road to Guanajuato, where eight more MK2 kilns are under construction. Carbajo’s department will work with the brick makers in order to convince them to accept the positive factors of relocation and the use of combustibles legally authorized by the State Institute of Ecology. In addition, he commented that 90 percent of the kilns are already under supervision of this department, and those that are firing bricks are firing them with sawdust and combustóleo, which are legally authorized.
This year the ornamental plants at the entrance to the city will be replaced by others requiring less expense to the public budget, and the pumps for the fountains at the traffic circles, which were useless when the new administration began, will be fixed.
Ricardo Benavides, Secretary of Public Safety, told Atención that the first three months of this administration were especially difficult. However, his office achieved a decrease in ordinary crimes like house robberies and assaults. He did not give figures. Felonies of high impact, like the murders registered between October and November last year, were related to organized crime, and he remarked that thanks to the support from Governor Miguel Márquez Márquez and the state and federal safety authorities, tranquility returned to San Miguel. “We gave our best,” he said.
Among the projects this year, Benavides mentioned the Police Academy, which will finally be used “as it should be.” There is currently an open public call for new police officers. The secretary commented that people in training will live full time in that building and will be trained there for four months until they are ready to serve the community. There will also be a budget for construction of a building to shelter the C4 Emergency System—Center for Control, Command, Communications, and Computing—where all the technology related to safety is located.
According to Director Samuel Mercadillo, his department has been working diligently to put order to parking spaces. There are many streets where parking was tolerable, like Hidalgo, Reloj, Ancha de San Antonio, and Mesones. However, it was causing congestion. They have worked to assure that vehicles have plates since there were too many that did not have them. This department also implemented the use of helmets for motorcyclists. It has issued 176 fines so far to those not respecting the order.
In the city, according to Mercadillo, 38,871 vehicles are registered, but he estimates that there are more than 60,000 from other states, some without registration. He invited all drivers to respect the traffic regulations to ensure better mobility in the city.
Tourism, economic development, and international affairs
This department not will only launch the wellness project that will feature holistic, aromatherapy, and hot springs topics, but it will also re-establish the Route of Indian Chapels, a tour that includes seven restored religious buildings dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. The tour will strengthen as well the sale of art crafts and products manufactured by the natives from the nearby communities. The Tour of Ravines will also be revised, said Director Zonia Torres Saeb.
“We want to approach the organic farmers, producers of vegetables, fruits, dairies, and derivatives because we see a big opportunity to offer them technology and branding development,” remarked Torres. She also commented that her department will work with Mayor Villarreal to attract more companies for the industrial park, such as those involved in the automotive industry. Her department is always thinking of the potential for good salaries for Sanmiguelenses near the Industrial Park.
She said that making San Miguel a wine producer will be supported because there are many investments here. Her group will work more closely with experts from Valle de Guadalupe—Baja California—Coahuila and will continue working with Bordeaux, France, and probably with Argentina.
The biggest challenge faced in this department, headed by Alfonso Sautto, was the breakdown of the heavy machinery that compacts the trash at the sanitary landfill, causing the trash to be thrown everywhere around the place. That failure generated air pollution, a plague of flies, and sickening odors. The department overcame the problem with support from the Public Works Department.
The director said that this year his group will work to get lighting for dark and dangerous areas in the city. They will also buy four more cars to collect the trash, covering the routes with 17 cars instead of 13. Sauto commented that for sure, the slaughterhouse—source of pollution on Calzada de la Estación—will be closed and the new one on the road to Rodríguez will be opened. On the topic of markets and vendors, he said that for the first time there will be a vendors’ census in the city to determine who sells, what they sell, and where and how they do it.
Liaison with nonprofit organizations
Director Teri Kavanagh told Atención that she is very happy with the progress in the area of liaison with nonprofits. “We have had great collaboration with all of our NGOs, and they are all committed to working together,” she said. In 2016 her department will hold several workshops to help NGOs get their donation status from the Tax Department. Also, some lectures, talks, and workshops are in progress to encourage high school and university students to become volunteers with the organizations in town. “One of our projects that I hope we can get off the ground this year is to have a traveling museum for the rural communities. It would be with the Toy Museum here in SMA, and they would get to see beautiful Mexican toys but would also learn the importance of values!”
We will also put together our directory of NGOs and distribute it to all delegates of the rural communities. We are also very committed to visiting each and every NGO in San Miguel so that I can see firsthand how they serve our community and know what they do so that we can help them better,” she concluded.