Five years. That is the amount of time that has passed between the initial proposal of a large public park in the municipality of Mijas and the inclusion of the project in the council budget.
The delay has been due to the technical complexity of the park, combined with the complex bureaucracy of the regional government, the Junta de Andalucía. Finally, though, Mijas council has now allocated some funds for the works in its budget for this year; in total the project will cost around 20 million euros and is expected to take a little under two years to complete.
"This has needed a huge amount of work because there were numerous difficulties to overcome, especially to prevent flooding in the area and to preserve the archaeological remains that have been discovered. It will be a major attraction for the town," said Public Works councillor José Carlos Martín.
The total investment for this new recreational area, which will cover more than 350,000 square metres in the area known as El Ahogadero, will be paid over several years.
"A project of this size will take around 18 months to complete, so payment can't all be made in the same year. Our aim is to contract the works and start the construction by the end of 2021," said Martín, who is also the Ciudadanos party spokesman at Mijas town hall.
This step forward has been possible for two reasons: the good financial health of the town hall and the final authorisation from the regional government, which was given last October.
The park plan, which was suggested during the last term of office and has now become a key project for the coalition council of PSOE and Ciudadanos, has not had an easy path.
Different modifications had to be made to the plans after objections from the regional government's Agriculture, Fishing and Sustainable Development department, and these have been complicated to resolve, but the park now has the blessing of all the different administrations. To give an idea of the complexity in administrative terms, one only has to consider its size: the Gran Parque de Mijas will be as big as the famous Parque María Luisa in Seville and nearly twice as large as the Parque de la Paloma in Benalmádena.
Although in October neither the mayor nor the councillors wanted to give an exact date for the completion of the project, they did say that it could be in operation by the middle of 2023, and at the moment that looks feasible.
The construction will include technically difficult infrastructure such as two roundabouts giving access to the park, parking spaces, the boating lake and its bridge. All of these, in addition to the typical complications of features of this type, include flood prevention measures.
As with other projects in the past, the council also needed to acquire privately owned land which would be needed for the park and therefore had to negotiate with owners.
The Gran Parque de Mijas will have gardens and wooded areas as well as a running track on the perimeter, a cycle and skate path and a climbing wall, but the plans have also taken into account ideas and requests that local people were invited to send to the authority.
The architectural style of the park will be typically Andalusian with allusions to the donkey taxis, Moorish roof tiles, wrought ironwork, decorative pillars, geometric tiling and other elements that define Mijas. These will be used on fountains, kiosks and a pavilion.
Among the most striking aspects in the design of this new park are the boating lake and the bridge that crosses it, and a "fantasy" area, with extensive children's play facilities (including water), outdoor game tables (chess and cards) and a petanca pitch.
The plans also include an open-air amphitheatre which will be used for concerts, theatrical shows, and other types of entertainment.