Senior United Democratic Party (UDP) figure Bindo Lanong has weighed in on the controversy regarding how to redevelop the Public Works Department property at Barik Point, calling for a mixed-use development instead of an outright shopping mall (the current government plan) or public park (which prominent citizens and pressure groups are in favour of).
In a press release today, Lanong said the three acre property has “evoked wide interest” from many sections of society and prompted a variety of suggestions. He said that as the land occupies a strategic location in Shillong, it requires “a highly technical approach for manifold solutions” to traffic snarls, overcrowding in the nearby Civil Hospital parking lot and other areas.
Roads can be realigned through the property to ease traffic, which has to navigate around the land at present, while some space can be kept to expand the limited parking capacity at the nearby Civil Hospital, with the two to be connected by a “rainbow flyover”.
While the former minister is amenable to a mini-park for the benefit of the public, he is not in favour of converting the whole property into a park as the location is already near to Lady Hydari Park and walking distance from Ward’s Lake.
“Too many parks within close vicinity from each other will also add to traffic pressure,” Lanong said.
On the idea of a shopping mall, he said that “public opinion is vastly against the idea” and the government seems to be moving away from it but it would be better to “stop it once (and) for all.”
However, there could be shops of a sort if there is a mini-park on the grounds, as food stalls and other establishments may be set up for the benefit of the public. Maintenance of his plans for the property could be funded by licences for these shops, parking fees and rent from buildings that are constructed there.
Lanong concluded by saying that his proposal is “only an abstract for now.”