MANDALAY — Army authorities in Mandalay are planning to reopen Mann Thida Park by the southern wall of Mandalay Palace some time next year, according to the city mayor.
Mayor Ye Lwin’s plans to reestablish the park had been stalled for about a year while waiting for approval and a budget from the Union government.
On Wednesday the mayor wrote on his Facebook page that the local army unit would carry out the project on its own early next year. But details of the project, including cost and how long the work will take, have not been shared.
Local army officials could not be reached for comment.
The army built Mann Thida Park, which ran approximately 200 feet along Mandalay Palace’s north wall, in 1959. It featured an open field and children’s playground. Visitors could take to the moat around the palace on small boats and take in the water fountains. But the army closed it down in 1996 claiming security concerns.
Locals had mixed feelings about the park’s pending return. While some welcomed the news, others said the money could be better spent elsewhere.
“Since the park is being planned by the palace wall, they need to think about the impact on the heritage and about the pollution of the water in the moat,” said Aung Naing, a local trader.
“There are many other things that need to be done in Mandalay instead of wasting money on building a park there, such as maintaining the city’s sewers and drains,” he added.
Others welcomed the prospect of having a new green space in the city to enjoy, but were wary of placing it by the palace.
“Many green spaces of the past have been wiped out because of development, so Mandalay really needs a green space like Mann Thida Park,” said historian Hsu Nget.
“However, whoever runs the project needs to pay special attention to its impact on the environment, heritage and pollution. The responsible authorities also need to keep in mind that visitors should be able to visit the place for free,” he added.
In its past iteration the park was free of charge. It had a small administration office and only a few vendors were allowed to set up stalls.