Amovate and the Community Oct 2011

AMOVATE is forging ahead with its plans to work more closely with the Câmara and the Junta in order to improve the facilities and the visual appearance of Vale da Telha.

The cleaning work around the VDT Lake has already started, the machines are working there cleaning the road….

We already have an undertaking following our submissions, that the local authorities will clear the path around the lake and bridge the gap at the end of the “dam” that at the current time makes it impossible to complete a full circuit of this lovely feature of Vale da Telha.

And it is looking increasingly more promising that for the first time we will have a permanent road sweeper / cleaner based up here to keep the main thoroughfares tidy.

Since the AGM on October 6th the Committee has drafted a series of proposals to improve various aspects of life up here and has already held some meetings with Câmara and Junta leaders. We also believe the residents can do more to improve the situation.

Our three new Committee members Vice President Gabriel Reis—the Aljezur GNR commander—and prominent local businessmen Armindo Santos Almeida and Alvaro Figueiredo, have been particularly active in driving these ideas forward.

They will also represent Amovate and the area in regular meetings and briefings with the President of the Câmara and his officials—on a monthly basis, we hope.

It is quite clear that in the past year or so Amovate’s activities are striking a deeper chord with the local community.

In the two or three weeks following the AGM, 31 new members have joined the organisation—one French, two English and, most significantly, the rest being Portuguese.

When the new Committee took over a couple of years ago our first declared intention was to rid Amovate of its unfair reputation of being just “the English Club.” Nobody can fairly level that charge at the Association now although we accept that unfortunately there still remains a small hard core of people with an anti-Amovate bias.

And nor can anybody accuse Amovate of not working for the local community, which is why we urge more of you to join the Association. The more members we have the more the authorities will listen to us and act on the wishes of those we represent.

There isn’t just safety in numbers—there is a degree of power and if you’d like to be part of it, check out the membership application details on the website.

A bigger membership will help us get action on the points we have listed below and which we are now discussing with the local authorities in an attempt to see some action.

We believe that in the past Vale da Telha has been the “child” the Aljezur family did not want, yet we know that many millions of Euros have flowed down the hill linking the communities up here to Aljezur, and into the coffers of the Câmara.

We certainly don’t think enough has been flowing the other way, and even though the Câmara, like everyone else, is now struggling in these difficult economic times, we still feel a lot more can be done to correct that imbalance which has been so unfair to VdT in the past.

To that effect your new committee has drawn up a list of priorities we feel must be tackled over the coming months. Those priorities—about which we are already in discussions with the Câmara–are listed below, with updates. If you have any further ideas we can bring to their attention (remembering their financial restraints) please e-mail those ideas to us at: info@amovate.com

• Identification and location of builders’ rubbish

As everybody knows only too well builders rubbish and materials, including items of rusting machinery, are spread indiscriminately around the urbanisation and give some parts an air of abandonment and neglect. The aim is to address the builders responsible in order to raise awareness of cleanliness and order. We will point out that these people make a living out of selling houses in the area, yet they are perhaps more guilty than anyone of contributing to its ’uglification’ (for want of a better word) of certain parts, which can deter people from buying here in what is otherwise such a naturally beautiful part of Portugal.

• Identification of road surface damage

There are several stretches of road that need urgent intervention due to the advanced state of degradation and consequent road hazards, such as repair of potholes on the roads, protruding drain covers, landslips and consequent damage to the pavement, etc…

Following this point:

• Cleaning and maintenance of kerbsides, etc

There needs to be a greater degree of cleaning and maintenance of kerbsides, rainwater run-off gullies, ditches and water courses which needs to be carried out before the rainy season. It is important to make homeowners aware of the need to keep the pavements outside their properties clean and clear, with no obstacles (e.g. large rocks to deter parking, cacti, eucalyptus…) so we can safely walk along the roads. The front wall of your property may be your boundary but you do surely accept that you have a moral obligation to keep the strip of land across the front of your property clear and in decent condition for the benefit not only of yourself but of the entire community.

• Roundabouts and Triangles in the Urbanization:

– We are trying in conjunction with the local council and local businesses to organise and beautify green spaces, presenting proposals for redevelopment of these areas that are completely abandoned and that give a picture of neglect.

– We have set out to involve the School of Aljezur, by undertaking a joint project with the students of its gardening and sculpture classes, asking them to submit projects for rehabilitation / renovation / refurbishment of the Pines roundabout to the entrance of Vale da Telha.

As you will have seen, workers have already been clearing the roundabout of accumulated rubbish and pine needles.

Amovate Vice-President Gabriel Reis has already met the head of the school to explain the idea, which was received enthusiastically. The head has promised full co-operation and will be instructing his pupils accordingly.

Projects designed by various teams of the schoolchildren would be considered and voted on by the Câmara and AMOVATE with the winners—and all the other teams from the school which entered—carrying out the renovations as part of their training.

It is necessary to point out that some of the pine trees may have to go as they are considered to be increasingly unsafe and liable to topple over.

Green Waste Collection

– We are seeking an urgent meeting with ALGAR, the body responsible for all rubbish collection across the Algarve, so that we can discuss and discover workable solutions for green waste collection in Vale da Telha.  It is a large problem causing unsightly areas that needs urgent resolution. Given the scale of urbanisation and its nature (within the Natural Park, where the lots are approximately 1000m2 on average, of which 500m2 must be green areas) and the fact that we want to keep a healthy balance in harmony with the environment, a solution must be found with the relevant authorities.

• Schedule a meeting with the Chairman of the Junta de Freguesia to discuss various issues coming under their remit.

– Gabriel, our vice-President and committee members Armindo and Alvaro have in fact already had that meeting. Here is what they discussed, and updates:

– Improving the areas of ​​the rubbish bins (i.e screening them). The President of the Junta said he will explore the feasibility of hiding all the rubbish bins behind wooden screens.

– Possible signs (in wood) identifying areas of urbanisation (Residential Areas).

– Road signs identifying the residential area at certain strategic points

– Replacement of the Vale da Telha maps in some areas. The President said we should submit proposals to him about the first two measures regarding signs, showing how we would like them to appear, and he will contact the company that supplied the large painted maps at various vantage points to see if they can be repaired or replaced.

– Discussions about the possibility of placing some speed bumps in strategic areas in order to slow the speed. The Junta President said for various reasons this would be impractical but we will go back to him with the ideas for strategic road signs, such as “Slow Down–Children Playing”, “Slow—Residential Area.”

– Placement of a litter bin next to the ATM at Vales. He said he will have a look at that, but sees no reason why that cannot be done.

– Maintenance of mailboxes at Pines roundabout. These mailboxes are not under the authority of Amovate but are the responsibility of the Junta, and the President took notes about the damage, and says he will address the problem.

• Urgent meeting with Câmara President regarding street cleaning

– The Portuguese committee members wondered whether it would be possible to take one or two out-of-work individual registered with the Unemployment Centre in Aljezur to work full time across Vale da Telha on street cleaning duties, clearing the road edges, pruning problem trees, etc. We are told that current employment law allows for there to be a protocol between the Câmara and Amovate, relating to the payment of wages. The wages would be subsidised by the Government on six-monthly renewable contracts with a 20 per cent contribution to be paid by the Câmara. The worker or workers would be briefed each morning on reporting for work regarding their duties that day.

• Maintain contact with EDP

– Amovate has already had some success with EDP in improving the electricity supply to the area but we want to maintain our communications with them in order to keep identifying problems with electricity supply, replacement of damaged poles with new ones, and solving any problems with damaged cables which are dangerous and must be removed. One resident, for example, has for some time had a live fallen cable lying across the land he cultivates!

• Talks with the Câmara regarding street lighting

– Amovate has learned that as a cost-cutting measure street lights at some point will be lit for shorter hours, coming on later and switching off earlier. We understand this necessity but we will continue to point out to the Camara places that require lighting.

• Schedule a meeting with all the Vale da Telha business owners

– Amovate has been seeking to get all the business in the area to join forces and lobby the authorities in the campaign to have all these measures, and more, implemented. We can now confirm that this meeting will take place next Wednesday October 26th at the Old Schoolhouse starting at 17:00 hours.  All business are welcome to join this meeting to discuss ways to combine efforts and jointly streamline effective intervention measures for Vale da Telha.

• Works around the Lake

Area to be bridged


Before

After

– Amovate have now held discussions with the local authorities in our campaign to have the entire pathway around the lake restored (already in progress) and completed so residents and visitors can enjoy walking the full circuit without interruption, perhaps paving the way for such events as Fun Runs etc.

The two gaps in the road that were created to drain excess water now need to be bridged in some way to link the two banks. The local developers/builders on the Committee have proposed to use perhaps a dozen square concrete drainage pipes of 1 meter by 1.5 meters for that purpose, which will then be covered with earth to bridge the gap and complete the circuit.  They have met with the Junta and construction machinery will be provided, along with equipment to clear and smooth the entire path around the lake. Once completed these works will create a recreational space in harmony with nature, for walking and perhaps even a cycling route.

• Keeping in regular contact with the Câmara regarding the Government’s plans for Vale da Telha

– Amovate will continue to exert some pressure on the local authorities to keep us informed and up to date about the restructuring plans for Vale da Telha of the Ministry of the Environment and the National Parks Authority, the latest proposals for which have been rejected in Lisbon.

• Creating a “Welcome” sign at the entrance of Vale da Telha

– We are asking the authorities to place an attractive “Welcome To Vale da Telha” sign at the beginning of the urbanisation and also to improve the approach road and sidewalks just before the Pines Roundabout, which have been disturbed by the palm trees flanking the road.

We are also requesting that the sides of the road from the junction alongside the Old School House and the Vale da Telha hotel be cleared, preferably on both sides allowing greater visibility of the road and allowing the safe movement of pedestrians who currently have to walk ON the road itself, stepping off it to avoid oncoming traffic.

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