10 May 2021 – City officials saw the light at the end of the tunnel in pursuing the rehabilitation and upgrading of a significant portion of the 34-hectare Burnham Park complex following the commitment made by top executives of the State-owned Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) to raise the required funds for the nearly shelved project.
Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong stated that TIEZA and tourism department officials led by Secretary Bernadette Puyat informed their counterparts from the local government during a recent meeting that the agency will be able to raise the P480 million needed by the city to pursue the development of Burnham Park provided that, the travel restrictions will be relaxed to allow the movement of tourists.
However, he claimed that the development of the city’s premier park will be implemented by next year or as soon as the TIEZA will be able to generate the funds for the project as the said agency is committed to pursue its programmed development to help in boosting the revival of the local tourism industry.
City Administrator Bonifacio dela Pen֮a said that the local government worked out the updating of the Burnham Park development plan that was prepared last year to suit the additional components of the improvements that will be introduced within the portions of the park that need to be developed.
He added that the areas where the proposed development will be undertaken will include the Burnham lake, the children’s park and the Melvin Jones grandstand and football field that will be covered by the initial P400 million that was committed by Secretary Puyat and TIEZA to improve the current state of the park while the improvements within the skating rink, old orchidarium, part of the Baguio Athletic Bowl, Ibaloi Heritage Garden, Igorot Park and Rose Garden will be funded by the P80 million additional funds that was committed by the agency for the aforesaid project.
Before the pandemic, Secretary Puyat, through the TIEZA, committed to provide the P400 million for the proposed development of Burnham Park based on the comprehensive development plan that was crafted by the local government because of the need to improve the current state of the premier tourist destination.
Subsequently, Secretary Puyat and Mayor Magalng entered into an agreement covering the supposed release of the funds that could have started the implementation of the proposed Burnham Park development.
Ironically, the aforesaid fund was not released after the national government allegedly withheld its release as it was subsequently realigned to provide the required funds for the national government’s anti-COVID response enshrined under Republic Act (RA) 11469 or the Baynihan to Heal Use One Act of 2020.
The local government is also proposing for the improvement of the Pine Trees of the World which is within the Burnham Park complex that will help in the preservation and protection of the remaining forested area inside the city’s premier park.
The proposed development plan for the park was an offshoot of the various plans that had been prepared in the past and similar plans that were consolidated and caused the crafting of the overall Burnham Park development plan that was submitted to the TIEZA to facilitate the release of the funds that were committed for the realization of the multi-million project as the development of the park is long overdue. – Dexter A. See