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Dear Editor

In most neighborhoods, people’s opinions vary. But in the past, everyone that used the prolongación pathway that connects Callejón Chepito to calle Santo Domingo agreed: the walkway was muy feo.

Leading to stairs down to the bridge in front of El Jardín, Stirling Dickinson’s former orchid farm, this bridge over the arroyo is one of San Miguel de Allende’s hidden delights. Back in the day, locals would cross the creek on the rocks. It was a shortcut into town that made the effort worthwhile, even if you got a little dirty.

Cante, a Mexican a nonprofit organization of diverse ecological and cultural interests that began the process of creating El Charco del Ingenio, built the bridge and walkway to improve access to the Dickinson Orchid Farm. Eventually, the property was sold, and trees were cut. The walkway became nearly impassable in the rainy season, with its ankle-high muddy water and its moonscape of rubble from building rubbish.

Well, that’s all changed now.

The populist spirit of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, via Señor Carmona in San Miguel’s Desarollo Social y Humano office, combined with neighborhood amistad, is manifest here: a few short steps, some stonework, some plantings, and community involvement have changed the dangerous eyesore into a beautiful walkway. Local children like Alina and Delilah help plant and sweep; now they have a safe, car-less place to play and ride their bikes.

Locals and expats on Chepito worked together under the guidance of architect John Wolff, who spent many hours with daughter Maddie designing the walkway and working with Desarollo Social y Humano to implement it.

A neighborhood committee was formed, and neighbors chipped in for building materials, while Desarollo Social y Humano paid for labor. Graffitti was plastered over, broken plumbing in the walkway repaired, the illegally cut tree stumps removed. The area around the Virgin of Guadalupe altar was bolstered and replanted, providing the area with beauty and shade. New trees and planters holding cacti and bougainvillea are being watered with a drip system. Solar motion-controlled lighting is soon to be installed.

“The idea behind the committee and the collaboration with the Municipio is that the committee will outlive this specific project and be instrumental in promoting additional community-oriented projects in the future,” Wolff says.

Already we have been told that the current ugly, polluting light fixtures on Chepito will be replaced with shielded LED lights to help return San Miguel Allende to a community with a “dark sky,” a place where we can once again see the stars. Next project!

 

Jeff Spurrier and Ann Summa

 

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