• The La Plancha train shed in 2018, left, compared with an architect's rendering.

Merida, Yucatan — Despite promises of a central park at La Plancha, no progress can be found at the barren land behind the old train station.

Worse, the old railroad yard has resumed its role as a trash-dumping ground. Protective fencing has been breached, and residents crisscross the parcel, walking through brush and weeds, for a shortcut.

Not even the controversial Museum of Light has been started, and that was supposed to be open this year.

Given this uncertainty, La Plancha’s proponents are asking authorities to declared it a full Biocultural Heritage Zone. That would at least protect the 60-acre parcel from being developed, allowing the largest vacant lot in the Centro to remain a green space promoting healthy, fresh air and nature.

The land, a rectangle running south-to-north between calles 55 and 43, and west to east at calles 48 and 46, is the largest undeveloped lot in the Centro, and neighbors for years have lobbied to protect it from development.

While work stalled without explanation after a false start in February 2018, federal officials suggested the site could contain a Mayan Train station, carrying both freight and tourists on a rail line that circles the entire Peninsula.

Felix Rubio Villanueva, president of the Gran Parque La Plancha civic association, has said that running the train at ground level through Centro auto and pedestrian traffic is a bad idea.

“Poxilá would be the ideal place, as stated by the director of Ferrocarriles del Istmo,” said Rubio Villanueva.

More recently, Rubio Villanueva explained that Biocultural Heritage plan is in order because, he said, Merida is in the midst of a climate emergency.

At the same time, sports, recreation, culture, tourism, environmental education and the preservation of history and architecture of the area would be promoted, he said.

Additionally, Rubio Villanueva said that ownership of the federal land has not officially passed on to the state government, “and this makes us fear as neighbors that the project so many times desired will not be realized.”

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