New mayor Luís Encarnação addresses Lagoa’s most pressing issues
Just over one month after he took office following the resignation of Francisco Martins, Lagoa mayor Luís Encarnação has sat down to speak about the municipality’s plans for the future and address some pressing issues, such as the Alagoas Brancas controversy, the long-promised Ferragudo Marina, the need for improved parking and plans to turn the town’s Fatacil fairground into an attractive venue for year-round events.
In an interview with our sister publication Barlavento newspaper, the former deputy mayor said he is determined to make sure “Lagoa keeps growing and becomes an even better place to live, work, visit and study”.
“I think Lagoa is already one of the Algarve’s leading municipalities in many areas, starting with culture. We are praised for hosting a year-long cultural programme with varied events, which attracts people from neighbouring boroughs and all over the Western Algarve,” he told Barlavento.
Encarnação also says Lagoa has established itself as a leading destination for sports events, not only in the Algarve but in all of Portugal.
“We have four strategic sports: badminton, handball, canoeing and most recently basketball. Speed skating and athletics are also fast-growing sports. And we are also a leading municipality in terms of tourism. We have 17 kilometres of beautiful coastline,” Encarnação said.
But despite all the good news, he admits there are still issues that the council has to face. The “number one priority,” the mayor says, is taking “better care of our public space.
“We have to be better at collecting our urban and solid waste. And give our local citizens and those who visit us a feeling of quality. We have to fix the parking issues in our municipality, especially in the most impactful areas,” he said.
The mayor explained that the council has done what it can in Benagil and confirmed plans to build a new car park at Praia da Marinha, one of the Algarve’s most popular beaches – although the two most serious parking problems are felt in Ferragudo and Carvoeiro, he said.
“We said (when taking office) that this would be a process that would take 10 to 12 years. We also want to continue to improve our sports infrastructures, so that they can be used for free and at any time by the population, and create two big urban parks in the municipality – one of them in Lagoa, where Fatacil is”.
The plan at Fatacil is to build a new horse riding arena that will be equipped to host all kinds of equestrian events and also carry out improvements to the fairground and nearby sports field. If all goes well, works will begin later this year or at the start of 2020.
“The idea is to open up the fairground so that it can host events all year long, especially in the low season to help fight seasonality,” he said.
Also announced was another project to build a park behind the Pavilhão do Arade complex in Parchal, although this one is “more delayed”.
“So far we only have a draft project. The park would be built on a 33,000sqm downhill plot,” the mayor revealed.
One of the pressing issues that Encarnação tackled was the Alagoas Brancas controversy. For those who might not know, locals have been battling plans to build on top of the Alagoas Brancas wetland, said to have been the inspiration for the town’s name.
But the mayor believes that the criticism that the council has received has been “unfair.
“When we (the current administration) got here, the plan was already approved. It was approved in 2008/09. It is the result of an urbanisation plan. At the time, all the entities that had to be heard were heard. There was a public discussion and this matter was never mentioned.
“What President Francisco said still stands: we are here to find a solution. But there have to be compromises. What is at stake are the developer’s rights. If the council decides to unilaterally suspend the developer’s rights, with no consideration for the law, it will be obligated to compensate the developer. This probably would mean spending a lot of money,” he stressed.
Encarnação explained that the council wants to find middle-ground that will “protect the wildlife that exists there while also finding a solution for the developer and safeguarding the council’s position”.
Encarnação also discussed the long-promised Ferragudo Marina, which has been in the pipeline for years. He said that the council cannot say when the project will finally move forward.
“If you ask me what my opinion is about it, I can tell you that it is a project of great importance for Ferragudo, a diamond in the rough. It can be very important to develop that whole area, which currently is devoid of any kind of beauty, is completely underdeveloped and is the site of abandoned buildings”.
The mayor explained that the project has been halted because the investor did not move forward with the works in time and the regional development commission (CCDR Algarve) has yet to give the project the green light.
“We are following the case closely because it is not the council’s responsibility to intervene. Only later on when it has been approved by the CCDR,” he said, adding that if this ever does happen, the council will certainly grant it the necessary licenses to move forward.
New museum planned
Due to be launched in 2021 is a new museum in Lagoa which will focus on the town’s history and the people who helped create it. The project will be unveiled at the start of 2020, with the plan being to have it up and running a year later in Lagoa’s old town hall building.
Adega Única taken over
Luís Encarnação also commented on the purchase of the Adega Única building, which is now in the hands of a new owner.
“The Adega is a beloved building, which in itself is a museum. Our goal is to follow what happens closely. We will always be available, within the limits of our land management guidelines, to help so that the Adega does not become a ruin or a problem, but something that showcases Lagoa’s connection to winemaking,” he said.
Fishing boats renovated
Lagoa council has purchased and renovated two traditional wooden fishing boats which are currently in Ferragudo and which will be used for short boat trips and activities.
“They symbolise the council’s ancestral link to the Arade River and fishing, an activity that was once greatly important,” Encarnação said.
The boats will be officially unveiled to the public soon.
Foreign residents are “citizens of Lagoa”
The new mayor also spoke directly to the municipality’s foreign residents, saying that Lagoa wants to continue establishing itself as a “cosmopolitan town and borough”.
“Everyone is very much welcome here. Lagoa is an inclusive town. There is space for everyone, no one is left behind. We consider our foreign residents, who currently represent 12.5% of our total population, as full-fledged Lagoa citizens”.