Mazatlan’s Central Park goes from utopia to development in progress


The enormous acrylics that will become the oceanic windows of the new aquarium give an impressive appearance to the construction, which in many places is still “in a row”, and that in September should become a tourist destination in itself, within which Mazatlán conforms in general. 

This Thursday, January 19, the aquarium was announced by Secretary Miguel Torruco at the International Tourism Fair (Madrid, Spain) as one of the country’s major tourism infrastructure projects, one of the products that the industry has planned to increase the flow of visitors and improve the quality of the services offered. Its construction, equipment, and commissioning will cost one thousand four hundred million pesos. 

It has not been an easy road, nor has it been the first attempt, nor has it been exempt from controversy, social struggles, and political confrontations, but little by little it is rising above what was just a natural swamp, a refuge for birds and wild species. of various kinds. 

In August 2014, hotelier Ernesto Coppel Kelly announced, as head of an organization called the Mazatlán Union Trust, the development of an ambitious project called Central Park, under whose initiative an international-sized aquarium, a historical museum within an emblematic building (a huge pearl in the center of a shell), the rescue of the shrimp lagoon, a high-spec public park and new roads for that area of ​​the city. The project sounded excessive, as much as its name. Central Park, which evokes Central Park in New York, no less. 

Supporters took the announcement with reservations since the country’s eternal economic hardship did not seem conducive to this type of project. The absence of the state governor, Mario López Valdez, was even noted, which was taken as a lack of willingness, since Malova went to all of them, especially when they were holidays. As if that were not enough, environmentalists began to defend the Forest of the City, on whose land the new development would be carried out, and left-wing politicians launched themselves in defense of the current Aquarium, which, being owned by the municipality, was considered autonomous and independent. untouchable “for a private project”. 

A sharp observer dropped a point: it is about the gentrification of a popular park, which from now on will be for the upper classes and tourists, he warned. Despite everything, the project moved forward, first with the personal effort of Coppel Kelly, who sponsored the executive projects at his own expense, and then with the participation of other businessmen, and finally the government. He himself got foreign investors to join the aquarium and was always close to the authorities to get the necessary decisions and investments. The ups and downs of politics helped him with an important ally: Quirino Ordaz Coppel, who came to the state government convinced that Mazatlán needed impulses of that size. 

Still, at the start of the first Morena triennium in the Mazatlan city hall, the activists of that party were pressing for the mayor to reject the construction of the new aquarium, and the conservation of the project produced scandalous internal fractures. The Forest of the city was created with a donation from the federation. In exchange for the city airport, the land was donated to the municipality, to be used in educational facilities and thus the University City of the UAS was born, in green areas and in other institutions of collective benefit. A piece of land was chosen for the forest and a part for the construction of the Mazatlan Aquarium. A part was diverted for housing for workers, who obtained it through pressure and invasion; another for an agreement that benefited the Union of Health Workers, in a swap that allowed the crossing of roads by Avenida Santa Rosa, and finally an electrical substation (inside the lagoon!).

There was a time when the Forest was in a position to be privatized or concessioned. 

Around 1990, Guillermo Rossell de la Lama, former Secretary of Tourism and former Governor of Hidalgo came as a consultant for the company Reino Aventura, which sought to expand its range of amusement parks in the Republic. The governor at the time, Francisco Labastida Ochoa, had promoted the visit, thinking it would be a good investment for Mazatlan. 

This reporter released the news, which immediately generated reactions. We Mazatlecos do not want Reino Aventura, we want the forest, said the person who served as president of the Mazatlán Ecological Council. It was a note made with great satisfaction, assumed and shared. 

Years later, as a father of a family, we took a tour of Reino Aventura today Six Flags: a hive of people from all over the republic and from Central and South America, who largely traveled to Mexico City to take the family to that amusement center: an entire tourist destination by itself, which generated a great economic benefit. 

In the end, the opinion determined that the land in question was too small for the needs of the investment and everything was forgotten, Twenty-five years later there were those who had the same reaction of those times, but this time the refusal did not bear fruit. 

Central Park is practically a reality. As before, many people go to do their morning or evening exercises, families go to their weekend walks in a much healthier and safer environment. Economic problems did not allow the emblematic building of the museum to begin, but Coppel Kelly does not lose hope that this stage will have its time and that the Aquarium, considered from now on as the largest in Latin America, will become an attractiveness that generates more visits to Mazatlan and, of course, extends the time of stay of tourists. 

Mazatlan has what it takes, says the businessman, whose most successful hotel businesses are in Los Cabos, ranked among the best in the world for its restaurants, spas, and golf course, but he feels morally obligated to pay the local fee. We can correct the mistakes that the city has made and build a first-class tourist destination, he has said and insisted: Mazatlan has what it takes.


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