Since the 70s of the last century, expressions and acronyms such as General Urban Planning Plan (PGOU), Partial Plan (PP), Interior Reform Plan (PRI) or Urban Action Plan (PAU) have become popular. In many cases, the new neighborhoods have kept the original place names (El Palmeral), in others an urbanization has ended up making the name of the Partial Plan (Parque de las Avenidas-Nou Garbinet) be forgotten. But recently the acronym PAU has permeated the public by work and grace of our City Council and we all hear the PAU 1, PAU 2, PAU 5 …
As a result of all this, on July 6 the municipal government board approved a 2011 request from the Neighborhood Association of PAU 1 and gave the name of John Paul II to the mentioned neighborhood. In this way, the neighborhood will bear the same name as its large oval plaza.
Most of the names of the Alicante neighborhoods have been given tacitly and without prior municipal agreement. In some cases by a hermitage dedicated to a saint (San Blas), a farm (La Florida), by popular denomination (Las Carolinas), by decision of the promoter or a relative of his (Francisco Albert) or in many other cases by a toponym historical (El Pla del Bon Repòs). Leaving aside the changes of the Civil War, during the dictatorship some neighborhoods and groups of houses received names linked to the Franco regime such as the disappeared neighborhood of Francisco Franco (popularly, the Thousand Homes), José Antonio, La Paz (for the XXV Years de Paz) or Felipe Bergé (Falangist from Alicante). Of these four, only the last two keep their name in force, which is also used by the bonfires in their districts (Virgen del Remedio-La Paz and Los Ángeles-Felipe Bergé respectively).
Returning to the issue at hand, in July 2017, with the left tripartite government, the residents of PAU 2 were able to vote on the name of their neighborhood. Actually, what was being voted on was whether or not to endorse the agreement of the PAU 2 Neighborhood Association that had approved giving the name of La Paz-La Pau to their neighborhood. The proposition was overthrown by 221 votes against and 121 in favor. Of course, less than 9% of those registered voted. Should it be binding?
Unlike the PAU 2 Instagram profile (@ avv_pau2), the neighborhood’s unofficial website (pau2alicante.es), last updated in January 2020 (twitter column), bears the logo of «Asociación de Vecinos PAU2 -Peace”. Name that also appears in the email ([email protected]). They still sold the bear’s skin before hunting it.
Shortly after, at the request of the Sant Blai-La Torreta Bonfire located in PAU 2, the Plenary of the City Council approved on September 28, 2018 an institutional declaration in favor of the La Torreta toponym. What has been a “thank you for participating, you take this loud applause from the plenary.” And it was never known again.
At this point, I think that no one can escape the pun that the residents of both neighborhoods come up with with the acronym PAU and the Valencian place names of La Pau and Joan Pau II. Something recognized by themselves. Is the name of a neighborhood really something to be taken for a joke? It is missing not only a more serious study regarding the toponymy of the area but also having an open mind that goes beyond the main square of the neighborhood.
Some will think where is the traditional toponymy? What happened to the City Council’s proposal to draw up a toponymic map of Alicante? La Torreta, El Tartanell, l’Hort d’Arqués and many other names would serve for the PAU. They do not have to coincide exactly today with the new neighborhoods. The toponymic delimitation of neighborhoods and games has been changing over the years. In addition, place names die, change and are even reborn.
On May 24, 2021, Emili Casanova Herrero, on behalf of the Secció d’Onomàstica de la Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua, in a letter addressed to Mayor Luis Barcala that has not transcended public opinion, expressed his concern about the approval of the name of Juan Pablo II- Joan Pau II for PAU 1 requesting that the place name El Tartanell be maintained, derived from the l’Hort El Tartanell estate, which in 1724 belonged to the Corsianini family. Name that also appeared in some documents, extending to the entire party of San Blas. It was requested that this historical place name be saved from the disappearance of whose origin various hypotheses contribute, all of them documented.
If we continue to fool ourselves with the name of our new neighborhoods, the day will come when PAU5, located in the La Passió area, asks to be called Barrio de Pau Gasol. Or perhaps Paulina Rubio, who in Alicante we do not have a neighborhood with a woman’s name. With permission of virgins and saints, of course.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.