The Cinta Costera is one of Panama´s mega projects for 2009 and 2010. This huge strip aims to recover Panama City´s green landscape by creating a big park at its bay coast while adding extra traffic lanes and covering the brand new sewer system that will clean the bay and hopefully make it suitable to be used in the next five years.
The project has been given priority in all fronts, but not exempt from controversy, as it has been under the public eye for several charges of corruption and lack of transparency on the design and management of funds.
Despite of all the scandals, the Cinta Costera keeps going on. The first trees have been planted, the pipes for the sewer system have been put in place, and now they are starting to prepare Panama´s historic district called Casco Antiguo to receive the first segments of pipes that will finish the sewer line and hook it to the treatment plants.
Many of the oposers to the Cinta mention the lack of transparency in the design, which included several parks at the beginning of its presentation and slowly reduced it giving up space for parking and cement areas. While this might be true, there is no disagreement that cleanning the bay and getting the sewer system up to date with Panama´s current growth will alone stand up as an enormous advantage.
For Casco Viejo, as it is locally known, the Cinta Costera is far more than a big park with traffic lanes. It will not only make access to the Casco easier, but bring several additional benefits to the current Casco Antiguo residents lifestyle. The Cinta Costera would bring a long park at walking distance suitable for running, exercise and other outdoors activities, but as the only part of Panama City that has beach, it will also make them usable and hopefully a beach culture will reborn.
Currently, beaches at Casco Antiguo are it´s most guarded secret. Used only by locals, its tan sand and easy to get access pockets around the peninsula makes it a great spot to enjoy weekends. It even has a small surfing spot, where the current Panama female Champion known as Samantha learned how to surf. As most Panamanians who lived in Casco Viejo in the 50´s remember fondly, this was a wonderful part of their lives. Now, their sons and grandsons will be able to go back and enjoy it.