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Upgrades at playgrounds and parks pulled off thanks to request from local associations' league

Foto elimininacio de barreres arquitectoniquesThe Formentera Council Office of Infrastructure has overseen improvements to courtyards at the four local learning centres —three primary schools and the secondary school— and two children's parks. Plus, accessibility obstacles were removed in every town across the island, part of an effort that, according to infrastructure councillor Rafael González, also entailed creating 16 accessible crosswalks, one wheelchair accessible entrance at a park for young children and two pavement upgrades.

All of the betterment projects were requested by the Consell d'Entitats last May, when Formentera's associations selected what they felt were the two most pressing initiatives from a list of twelve and fast-tracked them for execution before year-end. The two winning proposals —removal of so-called “architectural barriers” and upgrades at playgrounds and children's parks— received 100,000 and 150,000 euros respectively.

Playgrounds and kids' parks
The lion's share of improvement works was undertaken in August and September to ensure completion in time for returning schoolchildren. Playground equipment at La Mola's primary school was fitted with protective rubber and two basketball hoops were also installed on site. Sant Ferran's school got a shaded area and upgrades were made around planter boxes. Another shaded area was installed at Sant Francesc's Mestre Lluís Andreu school, part of works that included more protective rubber and miscellaneous improvements. Marc Ferrer secondary school was equipped with a shaded area and benches. Councillor González added that all of the upgrades had been requested by the schools' administrations.

Work at parks began in October, first at Es Pujols' children's park, with new playground equipment, fencing and benches and revamped protective rubber surfaces. The kids' park in Ses Bardetes got a fresh rubber surface as well, along with three new playground toys, artificial turf, new lighting and a shaded area.

Barriers to accessibility
Accessibility obstacles were removed in every town on the island. A pedestrian crossing was created at the crossroads of carrers Talaiassa and Àngela Ferrer with the new access extending to the nearby school's entrance. Another such crossing was installed across highway PM-820 in Es Caló. In Sant Ferran an additional two such crosswalks were created along carrer Guillem Montgrí.

A pedestrian crossing was added along avinguda 8 d'agost in Sant Francesc. Accessibility improvements were also made in Ses Bardetes. The area of Sa Roqueta got four accessible crosswalks and another two were fitted in nearby Es Pujols at carrer Espalmador and avinguda Miramar, the latter granting access to that town's kid's play area. Four pedestrian crossings were installed in la Savina around plaça Illes Pitiüses. Lastly, pavement improvements are taking place this week along carrer de Ca Marí 5.

This is the first time improvements requested by the local associations' council are overseen by the Formentera Council. The community initiative turns on what is known as “participatory budgets”.

Off-season events occupy increasingly important spot on Formentera sports calendar

Mitja marato 2015  jantonio arribasThe Formentera Council's Office of Sport, working together with various local clubs and sports associations, will deliver some twenty fitness and sports-themed events in winter 2017. Describing a sports calendar that has "hit its stride", department head Jordi Vidal said current efforts were focused on "consolidating a programme of fixtures whose prestige increases yearly". According to the councillor, "in sports, as in tourism, we're betting on quality over quantity".

The proof is in the pudding. One of the island's most beloved fitness events, the Formentera Island Half Marathon, capped its admission limits years ago "to make sure the experience was pleasant and in tune with the island's reduced size". Councillor Vidal touted the twofold benefits of fixtures like the Half Marathon: "Not only do they draw visitors during the low-season, they also encourage our local population to get active".

The first meet on the calendar is February 11's school cross country final for youth runners. As every year, Holy Week marks the start of an international training event for adepts of judo. The first weekend in May will see another school final, this time in kids' tennis.

The starting shot in a season of races will ring out March 1 with the Cursa de la Dona («Women's Race»), an event that shares its spot on the calendar with the Balearic Islands' annual holiday and a region-wide basketball tournament. Another race, Cursa Pagesa Solidària, will follow close behind on March 12.

Runners head for the coastline on March 25 for the Formentera All Round Trail, and the lighthouse-to-lighthouse challenge Far a Far will take place April 23. The island's most famous fitness fixture, the Half Marathon, is projected to draw 2,400 participating runners on May 13.

Formentera to Run turns nine this year. The event, which Councillor Vidal billed as "the nostrum for active tourism aficionados keen to spend a week on the island", will happen between May 28 and June 3. Another popular athletics event, the Milla Urbana («Urban Mile») + Es Pujols 5K, will happen July 22.

Post-season, October 7 holds the fifth Formentera Island Triathlon whilst the celebrations around the Virgin of the Pillar –el Pilar– will coincide with the 12th Pujada a la Mola run. Finally, on December 6, the John Tunks memorial run, also known as Cursa de la Constitució, ushers in its 39th year.

Vidal highlighted four competitive meets for inhabitants of the world of cycling: Trofeu Illa Road Race on March 26, BTT Formentera Tracks on April 9, BTT Es Cap Challenge on May 7 and –a two-part fixture– the ATB tour of Formentera and La Mola Challenge, held from October 27 to 29.

May's Regatha Ophiusa and June's Penyal d'Ifac tournament/regatta join the Mariano Castelló memorial windsurf regatta (June 25), the Marco Mayans memorial windsurf regatta (August 27) and the 35th Volta a Formentera, a windsurf trial on September 24, as sports events pitched to Formentera's resident and visiting nautical sports enthusiasts.

More information about all of the events can be found on agendaformentera.cat.

Renewed efforts to halt spread of pine processionary

foto procesionaria 2017 premsaThe Formentera Council Office of Environment has launched an effort to control the spread of the pine processionary caterpillar. According to Daisee Aguilera, councillor in charge of the department, two professional forestry workers have been brought in to oversee a three-week push that will include removal and controlled burning of the pine processionary's nests.

Members of Es Cap de Barbaria's hunters' club have volunteered to shoot down nests from otherwise out of reach pine-tops. In addition to financing the campaign, whose cost so far stands at 7,547 euros, the Council has helped the local shooters in their task by purchasing 2,500 shotgun cartridges.

Area of action
This year, besides operations in Es Cap de Barbaria, considered the hardest hit area on the island, controls will be extended to parts of Sant Francesc, Ses Bardetes and Ses Salines park, where the caterpillar has also turned up, albeit in reduced numbers. Aguilera stressed the pine processionary's spread across the new areas of action, in the periphery of the current centre, remained unsubstantial. “However,” she said, “the aim behind extending nest removal to these zones is to stop the insect's expansion”.

Local involvement
Aguilera turned to Formentera residents for help identifying pine trees affected by the pest. Anyone with useful information is asked to call the Office of Environment at  971 32 12 10 or visit the Citizen Information Office (OAC), in person or online.

The Council thanked the administration in Palma for its speed in this initial phase of the campaign, which included on-the-ground treatment measures. This move came on the back of a proposal that was unanimously adopted at the Council's September 30 plenary session last year. In October and November, members of Ibanat, the wilderness brigade in the Balearics, were tasked with a push to control the insect's spread using a spray treatment.

Formentera residents rejected aerial application of a chemical agent called diflubenzuron in 2014 on the grounds that the method wasn't selective and had known detrimental effects on flora, fauna and human health.

“A technical meeting to review our control efforts to date is being planned for the end of February. Based on that information we'll recalibrate our strategy as we move forward combating the pine processionary's spread,” concluded the councillor.

Municipal music school holds first traditional sing-along

Assaig cantada pagesaThe Formentera Council Office of Culture has announced plans for an activity being billed as Cantada Pagesa. The first of its kind, the “country-style sing-along” is a free-to-attend event taking place next Saturday, January 28 at 8.30pm in the municipal cinema.

The maiden recital will feature students currently enrolled in a traditional music workshop led by Xumeu Joan, teacher and musician, together with other volunteers eager to take part. The initiative is part of a broader policy at the school of protecting and promoting Formentera's traditional musical traditions.

The municipal music school —Escola Municipal de Música— serves some 350 students and provides elementary and professional music and dance instruction that is officially accredited. Certificates can be obtained on completion of the school's beginners courses in concert flute, guitar and piano.

As an authorised centre for music and dance learning, the school can offer instruction that is “regulated”, or officially-recognised,and non-regulated. Their catalogue, ranging from beginners' music courses for students aged six- and seven-year-olds and traditional music workshops to professional-grade studies, serves a diverse student body.

Given the open nature of the school, the learning opportunities there expand and change constantly based on demand and the centre's organisational possibilities.

More information is available at http://escolamusica.conselldeformentera.cat/ and the school's activities programme can be found on agendaformentera.cat at the following link http://agendaformentera.cat/evento.php?id_evento=415&id_eventosesion=3414&titulo=i-cantada-pagesa.

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