CNA with Red Brick Daily Staff
The Kaohsiung Cultural Affairs Bureau’s proposal to further renovate sites in the city’s old town area in Zuoying District (左營) has sparked criticism, as the project omits plans to restore the Gongchen Well – a national heritage site.
In August 1985, the old town area’s east, south and north gates, its protective wall and moat, as well as the Gongchen Well and Jhenfu Temple, were listed as first-tier historical sites.
The subsequent widening of Shengli Road placed the well in the middle of the road, where it occasionally caused accidents.
After a truck collided with it in January 1986 and damaged the walls of the well, then-Kaohsiung mayor Su Nan-cheng (蘇南成) ordered the well dismantled and a steel manhole cover put in place.
Many opposed the move, calling it defacement of a historic site.
Thirty years after being categorized as a national heritage site, the well is barely visible as it has been painted over with crosswalk markings.
Many had hoped that the eight-year, NT$200 million (US$6.25 million) renovation project would see the well restored to its former appearance.
However, the bureau’s Cultural Heritage Center director said the project would focus on the area near the south gate, where there is less privately owned property.
“Because the Gongchen Well is in the middle of Shengli Road, restoring it would be quite a daunting task. The only option would be to work with city planners and have the road re-routed,” a bureau official said.
Both locals and visitors have expressed dismay that Kaohsiung’s fragile historical sites are not being better protected. One tourist from Japan said the way Taiwan treats its historical landmarks is “unbelievable.”
What comes first? Free-flowing traffic or the preservation of history?