By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Access to the newly-revitalized Orla Conde walking path, open to the public until recently, has now been restricted by the Brazilian Navy. The 3.5 kilometer long corridor stretches the length of what was the Olympic Boulevard, running from the National Historical Museum and Candelária to the Museu do Amanhã (Museum of Tomorrow) in the Port Zone and Praça Mauá.
Barrier gates prevented public access to the space along the Guanabara Bay side, as well as on the other side where the city of Rio has installed public facilities for residents’ leisure. Members of the public are now unable to access the tables, benches and the lawn.
Inaugurated just before the the Olympic and Paralympic Games with great fanfare, more than one million visitors passed through the Olympic Boulevard, according to government new sources.
In a statement, the Urban Development Company of the Port of Rio de Janeiro (DURP) reported that the public space was inaugurated on August 5th as a part of the Orla Conde walkway. The Largo da Candelária was revitalized and opened to the public after 250 years closed for exclusive use of the Navy, in agreement signed with the prefecture of Rio.
The area’s closure has come as a grave disappointment to residents and tourist, as Rodrigo Braz Vieira, director of tour operator Bravietour explained that recently. Vieira said that the city had “completely reshaped the area, attracting a large number of visitors, even in a sunny hot Sunday when most of the population would rather go to the beach or to the parks and forests”.
Vieira recommended visitors explore, “[a] walk passing the historical Praça XV and further, seeing the Candelária Church and admiring the structure used to hold the flame during the Summer Olympics Games, the path goes now under a bridge that connects the mainland to the island (Ilha das Cobras) where the command of the Brazilian Navy is located. This completely new path offers beautiful views of the Bay and the futuristic Museu do Amanhã.”
Now as the barriers have gone up, the Special Secretariat for Concessions and Public-Private Partnerships (SECPAR), Jorge Arraes, contacted the Navy requesting that the revitalized area be reopened. Arraes, said yesterday (December 20th) that the city hall should reach an agreement regarding the closure of Olympic Boulevard area, in the stretch between the Museu do Amanhã, in Praça Mauá, and The Casa França Brasil, in Candelária.
Arraes said the agreement with the Navy was fulfilled. This agreement provided an assigned easement of passage to the city and, as a counterpart, the city hall would execute some works in the 1st Naval District. “We fulfilled what was agreed. We are returning to the Navy what was already its parking lot and we urbanized the rest of the area, which was validated by them.”
Arraes said he did not know the reasons that led the Navy to surround the area for more than three weeks, in front of the Naval District and in front of the sea. “They also surrounded this stretch and we do not understand why.”
The Navy’s responding statement said that according to an agreement from 2014, after the closure of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the area in question should be returned to the Navy, properly urbanized and with the placement of colonial border in the original boundaries, undoing the temporary improvements.