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Activists Skeptical Of Upcoming Sale Of Hermosillo Sports Fields For COVID-19 Relief

El Cárcamo fields in Hermosillo
Sofía Vargas
handout | contributor
The city of Hermosillo, Sonora, is holding an auction to sell land used as an outdoor sports complex, and part of a biological corridor, despite objections from activists and community members.

The city of Hermosillo, Sonora, is auctioning off a plot of land used for sports fields, and Mayor Célida Lócpez has said the funds will go to much-needed pothole repairs on city streets, as well as helping small businesses affected by the coronavirus. A small part of the money would also be used to build new sports fields.

The 24-acre plot of land, called "El Carcamo," is worth an estimated $7.5 million, according to a press release from city, 30% of which would go directly to coronavirus relief.

But activists say the city needs to find another way to come up with the funds. The fields are one of few outdoor spaces for local families. And the land is also part of an environmental restoration effort to rebuild an important biological corridor.

And as for the money being used to aid business owners suffering because of coronavirus, activists are skeptical.

"We all know that there's a problem right now, but taking away from people the spaces they use to reduce risks like diabetes and hypertension, which are illnesses with a high rate in Sonora, doesn't make sense," said Sofia Vargas, an activist who has been part of restoration efforts in Hermosillo. "There's no long-term vision with these types of decision — not in health, social or ecological terms."

While city leaders do need to address the economic and health needs of those most affected by the coronavirus, Vargas said, they also need to think about the future.

Despite meeting with the mayor Thursday, activists said they haven't been able to stop the sale of the land.

"We thought there was a possibility to find another way. But the answer is no," said Joel Montoya, who's been working to establish the biological corridor. "The mayor isn't willing to adjust her position."

He said at least 50 environmental and civil groups are still working to stop the sale of the land.

An  online petition to save the fields had received more than 10,000 signatures as of Friday afternoon.

→  Read The Latest News On The Coronavirus Disease 

Kendal Blust, an Arizona native, reports from KJZZ’s bureau in Hermosillo, Sonora, focusing on business and economic relationships between Arizona and northern Mexico.Prior to joining KJZZ, Kendal worked at the Nogales International, reporting on border and immigration issues, local government, education and business. While working on her master’s degree at University of Arizona School of Journalism, she did stints with the Arizona Daily Star and the Tico Times in Costa Rica, and completed a thesis project about women art activists in the Arizona-Sonora borderlands.In her pre-journalist life, Kendal was a teacher, first helping Spanish high school students learn English, then heading to Tucson to teach fourth grade.When she’s not in the newsroom, Kendal enjoys getting outside for a hike or a swim, catching a good movie, hanging out with family and friends, and eating great food.