The news that Lagos waterfront is to be extensively altered, doubtless to satisfy the ego of the current president of the Câmara, as reported in The Resident and elsewhere – leaves me speechless! That a country such as Portugal, already with a technically bankrupt economy should even consider such a ‘third world dictator-like’ scheme when its hospitals are understaffed, education facilities are struggling and there is a terminal water shortage – is beyond comprehension. Furthermore, the planners of this lunatic scheme have clearly learned nothing from neighbouring Portimão, which for years has seen its grandiose underground car-park bedevilled with water seepage problems associated with its close proximity to the sea. The Lagos extravaganza is even closer to the sea, so what price a decade or two of disruption and the inevitable cost over runs as inadequate engineers and planners grapple with the problem, all at the ratepayers expense, of course!
Many of us still remember the disruption of the early 1980s when the last improvements (genuinely so it has to be said) including the creation of the Avenida as it stands today were being completed. How can the authorities even think of redoing the whole thing again 20 years later? As for Sr (or is it Dr) Barbosa’s complaint that vehicles and other ‘visual pollution’ are the principle reason for the changes, these are no more than the trappings of modern living in a vibrant seaside city. Besides, when it comes to visual pollution one only has to look at the ‘crane cities’ at Salgados, the defilement of Meia Praia and unnecessary high rise development that besmirches Lagos, and the once beautiful Algarve coastline vistas, or hasn’t the good doctor noticed?
As for the enthusiastic Carla Santos, there really is a rosy tinted view of history! Judging by contemporary photographs from the 1940s and 50s, the coastline along where the present Avendia runs, was little more than an estuarial swamp line. It was in any event, previous Câmaras that allowed old buildings of merit to be demolished or be totally overshadowed by modern development. As in the case of the lovely Igreja de St João (by the ‘ship’ roundabout) – yet never have enough money to spend on renovating the classic buildings and landmarks. I hardly think that a piece of grotty decking is a suitable substitute for all the damage already done.
On a rather better and more optimistic note, it appears that a wonderful new book of aerial views of the Algarve, Algarve Visto do Céu, is about to be published. At 60 euros a copy this should be excellent value for those of us wishing to keep track of where the developers next encroach on nature reserves and other hitherto unspoilt parts of the coastline. I can’t wait to obtain my copy.