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Ask the boss Pedro Costa

Ask the boss - Pedro Costa

Head of the Campo de Ourique Parish council answers questions from our readers.

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Editores da Time Out Lisboa

Why do you want to kill the heart of the neighborhood? It beats so hard with the children playing, the gentleman’s games among exotic and ancient trees... The metro has to go to a place that makes sense, not the heart of a neighborhood...

The Campo de Ourique Metro is the true mobility revolution of this neighborhood. It creates an undeniable alternative to cars and ensures that new generations aren't pushed into this outdated model. Jardim da Parada is, in fact, the heart of the neighbourhood, so it was crucial to ensure it would remain unharmed. The project only foresees the construction of two elevator shafts in the place where the public toilets are located today. This will be the only lasting impact. During construction works, 15% of the garden will be occupied by the construction pit, and we will need to remove the children's playground (temporarily heading to the garden of the Santo Condestável church), as well as replacing four non-classified trees. There are no viable alternatives to Jardim da Parada to ensure the metro is safely built. It is up to us to guarantee the project is constantly improved, as well as reducing and monitoring its impacts throughout.

When and where is the new health center planned for? Is it true that you can go to another parish? 

The new health center, in Campo de Ourique, has been announced for years, and the barter was approved even before the pandemic. We are still awaiting news from City Council, with President Carlos Moedas reaffirming his intentions to more forward with the signed contract. This is something I have insisted upon every meeting with the councilor in charge of Construction and my hope is that it moves forward this year, recognizing that, unfortunately, we have lost a year to paperwork that could have, and should have, been done faster.

Is there an affordable house leasing program planned specifically for the neighborhood?

Housing is, as identified by the results of the Campo de Ourique 2030 Forum, the neighborhood's biggest problem. This means there isn’t just one answer to solve the problem: first, we have to put an end to housing poverty in municipal housing, in areas such as Sete Moinhos or Maria Pia, where City Council has left residents without solution. Rua Maria Pia is also home to the largest set of vacant houses owned by the City Council and in urgent need of rehabilitation. Central State also has an obligation to solve this problem. That is why we have been demanding, since the very first day, that the Barracks in Campo de Ourique and the Council of Ministers Presidency building be converted into housing allocated to the Affordable Rental Programme. 

Since cleanliness is one of your stances, how come the streets are getting dirtier?

Urban hygiene is this executive's top priority. An everyday job. The beginning of this mandate was marked by difficulties in garbage collection by the municipal services and by the hesitation of the municipal executive in maintaining the reinforcement of the means necessary for the work done by the parishes. Both problems have seen improvements and advances in recent months, which has allowed us to improve processes and reinforce human and mechanical resources. We acquired four vehicles and hired seven new workers, with the results already visible. But we will continue to improve the system, ensuring more regular cleaning, punctual washing and the effective fight against the lack of civility by some residents, through the collection of bags deposited outside the correct place and time, or the abandonment of dog waste.

Many streets’s pavements, especially those with greater traffic, are full of holes and poorly made patches. Are you going to do anything about it? 

The maintenance work of traffic routes is a municipal responsibility. At the request of the municipality, we identified the streets Sampaio Bruno, Francisco Metrass, Rainha Santa Isabel, the alleyways of Santa Quitéria and Campo de Ourique as our priorities, as well as sections of streets such as Tenente Ferreira Durão, Azedo Gneco, Silva Carvalho or 4 de Infantaria. Besides, this month we hope to start negotiating the contracts for the delegation of powers, where we prioritize the total recovery work on Rua Arco do Carvalhão, Praça Afonso do Paço, Freitas Gazul or Sol ao Rato.  

When will the renovation work begin on Rua Ferreira Borges, one of the best known and busiest streets in the neighbourhood? Would you consider turning it into a pedestrian street?

At the end of the last term, we prepared a public discussion process to create a recovery plan for the Ferreira Borges and Maria Pia streets. This work allowed City Council to move forward with the project from day one. At the last meeting, the vice-president announced that work would begin in 2023. The project focuses on modernizing and improving traffic safety, without removing car circulation, though. The plan for the future of Campo de Ourique must be to reduce cross-traffic and excessive parking, reduce speed and create safe crosswalks for everyone, with trees and green initiatives. This is a transversal mission, a plan for any intervention.

What is the plan to solve the parking problem in the neighborhood?

Campo de Ourique has evolved a lot in recent years. We can no longer look into public space only to try and find parking spots. Today, the mandatory path is that of improving public space so that everyone can enjoy it, without forgoing better parking. This involves large-scale solutions, such as the expansion of the Pátio das Sedas park, where we will gain 500 new spaces once work is completed, or solutions to shorten distances such as the opening of access to the National Swimming Club park. The plan exists, as well as the projects, so it’s imperative to move forward with urgency.

This article was published on Lisbon by Time Out newspaper, January 2023 edition.

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