The aim of the Línea Verde is to provide public spaces that contribute to enhance community life for more than 300,000 inhabitants living in the poorest area of the city.
Aguascalientes' vision is to insert an urban landmark of 12 kilometres of infrastructures to improve the quality of life of residents living in the most deprived area of the city. This project seeks to be a social platform where people can find a place to improve their mental and physical health thanks to leisure and physical activities. The project is supported by a social welfare program called "Convive Feliz" which provides trainings for jobs and empowers people for self-community management. Since its beginnings, the program has also contributed to the eradication of domestic violence and the reduction of drug addictions in the area.
The main goal is to establish social and urban mechanisms that lead to the reconstruction of the social fabric in the poorest area of the city.
The objectives include:
- To improve governance in the area,
- To promote the appropriation of public spaces by residents,
- To achieve a sustainable and financially viable project in the long term,
- To enhance self-community management and guarantee the continuity of the project,
- To provide public spaces that contribute to improve the health of people through physical and leisure activities. The facilities provided in each pocket park of the Green Line are of similar shape and quality.
Due to an existing gas pipeline, the project incorporates restricted areas along 12 kilometres. This is the first time in Mexico that the national oil company (PEMEX) allows any organisation to build on their restricted areas. Moreover, a water pipeline was built along the project's perimeter. This way, water reaches the area by gravity to avoid high costs of distribution.
Main actors involved in the project include:
- the Municipal Government of Aguascalientes as the project leader;
- the Federal Government through their ministries that funded parts of the project;
- the State Government by donating some plots along the Linea Verde to the Municipal Government.
Private: different companies helped funding small components of the project.
Non-governmental: some NGO´s participated in maintaining the Linea Verde clean, safe, and in-use.
The Green Line project is mainly funded by municipal programmes. The agencies working for Aguascalientes' Social Agenda also invested in the programme coordinated by the Municipal Planning Institute. Federal agencies also contributed funding parts of the project, especially areas assigned for sport and recreational activities, including boxing gyms, skate grounds, running pathways.
Total investment reached 500 million Mexican Pesos – or more than 38 million US dollars - in 2012.
As a comprehensive project, the results encompass planning, urban, social, environmental, cultural, and leisure aspects. Due to the intensive participation of public organisations, the impact of the project is not limited to one aspect but influence the way people live in their neighbourhood and how they relate to each other in a more community-driven approach.
The impact of the Linea Verde is city-wide. By integrating a deprived area to the urban fabric, people participate more in social issues. They are “visible” to the city that had neglected them for years. Second, delinquency has been dramatically reduced by 50 per cent in most cases or types; for example, robbery and assault have been reduced by more than 50 per cent in the last year. Another impact of the Linea Verde is the increase in the value of people´s property adjacent to the area. This increase has been calculated as much as 20 per cent after the Linea Verde started. Residents do not need to go to other parts of the city to find a place for recreational or leisure activities. They now have such opportunities in a pedestrian range and don't need to use their cars.
The social agencies of the city of Aguascalientes and the urban planning office measure delinquency rates, social and cultural activities, the seeding of trees, and the use of treated water. The municipal governement uses them to evaluate the impact of the project and to monitor the participation of the different actors in the project.
The main obstacle was to guarantee sufficient funding to implement the project. The amount required surpassed the budget and it was necessary for the municipal government to lobby funding with other levels of government. The Mayorees' previous experience as a national deputy has been helpful to lobby funding from federal agencies.
The Linea Verde followed a transversal approach in which every single public office contributed to the social and urban transformation. For instance, the Institute for Women visited the area and organised meetings to promote the eradication of domestic violence, whilst the Public Service Agency surveyed inhabitants about the specific needs in the area. On the other hand, the Citizens' Observatory channeled demands from people willing to participate in public affairs. The Linea Verde integrated the efforts of a whole municipal administration in a sense that the "acupuncture approach" worked in an effective way to solve the main problems identified.
The project has shown that through lobbying and leadership, large projects in urban areas can be effective. A 12 km-long linear park is not easy to implement, especially if the main focus is social development rather than urban transformation. Urban interventions sustain the implementation of social ventures and programmes. The Linea Verde is a comprehensive social project implemented on an adequate urban and environmental setting.
The Linea Verde is a good practice that can be extended to other parts of the city and is expected to be replicated in other cities in Mexico. The Linea Verde was inspired from other similar initiatives in South America, particularly in Colombia and Brazil. The Mayorees of Aguascalientes, Mrs. Lorena Martínez Rodríguez, visited these countries and had meetings with city officials running similar projects. Some local governments have visited Aguascalientes to learn from the experience of "La Linea Verde".
- The Green Line: Social Development Comprehensive Plan (La Línea Verde), Guangzhou Award for Urban Innovation
http://www.guangzhouaward.org/644/content_739.html (Accessed on 23.02.2016)
- The Green Line: Social Development Comprehensive Plan(La Línea Verde), Urban Innovation Database, http://bit.ly/1RiF4eN (Accessed on 23.02.2016)