Friday, July 6, 2007
The Politics of Parks 公園の政治
There's a new strip of park in Fengyuan (Fongyuan) 豊原, located along the north section of Yuanhuan Road 圓環北路, the loop road that goes around the central part of the city. At one time, the area was used to house people who had lost their homes in the Chi-chi (Ji-ji) Earthquake 集集大地震 of Sept. 21, 1999. The temporary housing has long since been removed, and the finishing touches are being put on a park area that features wading pools for children. We went with Amber in the late afternoon to check out the new green spot in town.
There were a lot of kids enjoying the water, but it didn't seem clean enough for us to let Amber take a dip. Perhaps we were just being overprotective, but the last thing I want is for Amber to come home with is some sort of waterborne illness. While Amber was interested in what the other kids were doing, she seemed content with walking around and exploring the new park, so we were spared having to disappoint a small child.
In recent years, there appears to have been some kind of boom in park construction in Taiwan. New parks pop up with regularity, even in smaller cities such as Fengyuan. These are often due to the efforts of local politicians, who then proudly boast of their achievements in the next election campaign (with the use of loud sound trucks). The problem (and there's always a problem) is that, while money is certainly spent on constructing the parks, it seems little is budgeted afterward for maintenance. The result is that the condition of many of these nice new parks soon starts to deteriorate, and it doesn't take long before today's new oasis of green is tomorrow's weedy, trash-strewn eyesore, where you have to watch where you step due to the broken pavement and dog droppings.
Perhaps I'm being too cynical. Who knows, once this latest addition to Fengyuan's park scene is finished, the wading pools will be kept in great condition, and kids (including mine) will be able to splash around in clean water during those lazy days of summer. Forgive me if I don't hold my breath, however...