Hope (and trepidation) as “friend of the Ria” replaces ‘demolition man’ at Polis Litoral

News last night has brought hope and a little trepidation to Ria Formosa islanders who only last month saw their lives reprieved from the spectre wrecking ball.

The hope comes in the choice of the new boss at Polis Litoral Ria Formosa, the government backed agency which until recently seemed synonymous with demolitions.

The new man-at-the-top is José Pacheco, a landscape architect employed by CCDR Algarve (the commission for coordination and regional development).

Luís Graça, one of the many Algarve politicians who has wholeheartedly supported islanders in their battle for recognition, hails the appointment as “an excellent choice”.

Writing on Facebook, Graça says Pacheco is a friend whom he greatly respects and a man who “well knows the Ria and the people who live there and whose lives are sustained by it”.

Pacheco is a former director of the Ria’s natural park (nominated to the post by the PSD/ CDS-PP government) and a one-time PS Socialist representing Faro borough council.

Graça suggests “Polis is returning to the initial spirit of its creation in 2008”, which was to ‘let the Ria live’.

But the ‘trepidation’ stems from islanders’ concerns that this new appointment could mean revived impetus for the demolitions programme that remains in place.

“Only time will tell”, said a source for SOS Ria Formosa, adding that islanders and their associations will be requesting a meeting with Pacheco and his new administration as soon as possible.

Polis’ new president is officially due to take up his new post on Thursday, with Rogério Gomes taking the place of João Alves, a former member of Polis’ board who resigned alongside outgoing president Sebastião Teixeira in October.

Another moot point is that Polis’ programme was due to come to an end on December 31, 2015. This was extended by the last government to the end of 2016, which is only 31 days away.

Fears among island communities are that if Polis is wound up then “everything under its jurisdiction passes directly to APA Algarve” (the Algarve branch of the Portuguese environment agency) where ‘demolition man’ Sebastião Teixeira is still in charge.

[email protected]

PHOTO: from one of the many protests against Polis’ demolition programme for Ria communities