An open letter to Chea Sophara, Governor of Phnom Penh Municipality.
I am concerned by the Phnom Penh Post article "Sparks fly over US Wat Phnom
embassy plan" (Aug 18).
As a member of the Youth Club and a regular swimmer there over the past four years,
it has been possible to observe that the minimal maintenance and few minor changes
that have been made at the Youth Club have lacked the coherent overview necessary
for a modern sports center.
While [the Youth Club's original] building could well be preserved for posterity,
it covers an insignificant portion of the site which has a surface area of nearly
two hectares. The other buildings are a little run-down and of no particular heritage
Sir, the real value of this site is that which is never encompassed in the parameters
of the calculations of your economic advisors. That value is the Youth Club site's
contribution to the quality of life of the people of Phnom Penh.
In the name of real progress for Phnom Penh today and for future generations, I trust
you will have the wisdom and presence of mind to preserve this priceless site for
the purpose it was originally designed.
Ever increasing numbers of young people are leaving the rural areas and their traditional
social and moral structures and moving to the cities. It's time to consider these
cities as social communities moving toward a better future, and time that property
was considered more than merely an article for business speculation and transactions.
Now more than ever the components of a city's infrastructure that contribute and
enhance healthy lifestyles need to be studied, protected and developed.
Today the Youth Club is the only 50 meter pool open in Phnom Penh.
A first-class renovation with deck-level overflow channels would cost half the price
of building a new pool. The upgrading of this site with its ample parking and lush
gardens in the heart of Phnom Penh deserves serious consideration.
As a community development project this haven of tranquillity would be eligible for
and open to a wide range of benevolent support.
It can only be hoped that this will be the case and that Phnom Penh will be given
time and the vital space necessary to become a capital city that others envy.
- Damien Morrison, Phnom Penh