Sunday, August 11, 2019

The March To The Future For Xavier U-Cagayan de Oro

Looking at the futuristic rendering of prospective structures, open spaces, and roads in the perspectives publicly shown, it is plain to see why the awed viewers would be easily taken in to agree that such would be a commendable and acceptable metamorphosis of the current campus.  And truly, it would look good and would do right for Xavier University.  A total and integrated remodeling of an old and minimally-planned campus; and what’s more, creating additional precious finances for the school to undertake its other more ambitious project, the Manresa property.

But how would the entire city be affected by the new development, a city already burdened with many growing problems?  If one of the current problems inherent to the place is congestion, how would the additional buildings for commerce planned not only address but mitigate that problem?  And remember that issue spills over to traffic congestion also.  And more to add.  What about increased volume of drainage, additional energy requirements, H2O requirements, etc.?  Would we envision a complex development with back-up generators (like what we have in the other developments) running during brown-outs, turning this part of the poblacion into one loud noise-polluted amphitheater?

How would the new development address the pertinent issue of “livability” in this part of the city?  Rather than commercialize it even more, why not instead devote areas not set aside for preservation for conservation purposes – like for more greenery and trees, or simply as open airy spaces?  A comprehensive cost-benefit analysis ought to be undertaken, by both XU admin and the city, a city which has been judged by many as not keen enough to address such issues.

It is devoutly wished that such serious considerations and more are earnestly pursued and not just glossed over, keen to the observation that it is easy to be blinded by the sight of grand and tall buildings as glaring signs of “development” progress.  But thinking of our other over-sized cities that observation appears to hit the mark.  We can point to a number of them already beset with burgeoning problems of basic public services.

If confirmed as I suspected that the campus is about 8 hectares, then that equals to 0.08 square kilometers, of a smallish poblacion.  Would the proposed development create its own ecosystem that could adversely skew the city’s own?  Like traffic flow. How immediate surroundings with a lot of old houses would be upgraded or remodeled as to not degrade the supposed gains made by the new development.  All this and more really point to the urgent need for the city to have enforceable zoning laws.

Or are we consigned to accepting that our older cities as they march to the future, will be nothing more than a hodge-podge or patchwork of isolated development sewn together to keep from bursting at the seams?  Or maybe just waiting for the seams to indeed burst.