Christine M. Watterson Maó
This year will be a year of construction in Menorca as the island's Mayors have opted for public investment to palliate the effects of the crisis, using money provided by the State Government. The idea is that the 16 million euros earmarked for the island will be used on projects not included in the 2009 municipal budgets which will provide employment, chiefly in the construction sector.
With the largest population on the island, the district will receive the biggest share of the State fund, just over 5 million euros. The State has already approved eight of the projects put forward by the Council, totalling 4.5 million euros. The main project, accounting for half of the allotted sum, is a complete overhaul of the Calle José María Quadrado, one of the main entrances to the town.
Other streets are also to benefit: Calle J.A. Clavé's pavements will be widened and repaved and the streetlighting replaced; Calle Hannover will have new pavements and water supply system; and the sewage and drinking water pipes in Calle Rovellada de Dalt will be replaced.
The area around the Claustro del Carmen will be upgraded and have new streetlighting and the green area between Calles Vasallo and Giuseppe Chiesa will be put in order. Another project will be to install a lift in the car park in the Plaza de la Esplanada; and the "Els Passarells" infant school in Calle Sínia Costabella will be extended.
According to the forecasts, work on the various projects should start during the second quarter of the year.
Apart from these eight schemes which have now been given State approval, Maó has already submitted three others and intends to present a further ten to twelve projects to use up the remainder of its allotted sum.
The Grupo Mixto has put forward a project to revamp Plaça des Pins as the main candidate for the district's entitlement of the State fund which is just under 5 million euros. The other scheme to be submitted for State approval is an extension to the Instituto Josep Maria Quadrado which will include a youth club.
The former proposal to build an underground car park beneath Plaça des Pins has been shelved after meeting with public opposition and the current plans retain the pine trees which motivated several public demonstrations in their defence last year. The square will be completely repaved and a central area created to stage shows, events or fairs and where a marquee could be erected, while the children's playground will be retained.
The proposal includes alterations to roads in the area, with the street running between the square and the shops being closed to traffic and pedestrianised. The road between the Paseo San Nicolás and Calle Mallorca will remain open and will be two-way to help traffic circulation.
The definitive project is being drawn up ready for presentation to the public tomorrow before being submitted for approval and inclusion in work to be carried out using State funds. If accepted, the project will have to be completed by March 2010.
Economic revival at end of 2009
The Director of Sa Nostra's Economic Research Centre, Antoni Riera, issued an assurance last week that the economic situation in the Balearic Islands would improve from the end of this year or beginning of 2010 as changes are already becoming evident in some of the root causes, such as the price of oil.
Riera stated that although everything pointed to the crisis situation continuing during 2009, it would resolve itself. He explained that the deceleration of the economy is happening gradually so the recovery would also come about slowly.
According to Riera the construction sector has played a major role in the Balearic market and the loss of confidence of economic agents and the weakening of the economy would result in a growth rate of slightly over 1% this year, far below the increases of previous years. He also pointed out that construction had affected other sectors, such as services, as many activities are linked to it. But he said that the tourist sector had maintained its rhthym better and, thanks to speciailisation in this area, the economy in Ibiza and Formentera may avoid the recession in 2009.