In a surprise decision, authorities have banned access to the planted areas of Pedion tou Areos, one of the country’s largest public parks, and other green spaces in Athens.
According to a recent decision published by regional authorities, responsible for parks in the Attica basin, “the general public is not allowed within the planted areas of parks and woods… because of the high risk of falling branches and trees.”
On top of the 27-hectare Pedion tou Areos park on Alexandras Avenue, the ban also affects Attiko Alsos woods in Galatsi, the Ethniki Antistasi park in Psychico and Protomagia Square in Kato Petralona, among others.
However, sources told Kathimerini that the real motive behind the decision was to keep away drug addicts and homeless people who have found a safe haven in Pedion tou Areos and other parks.
Authorities last year decided to install fencing around the park and to lock the gates at night so that “citizens would be able to enjoy a beautiful and safe park throughout the day.”
Occasional police operations have not remedied the situation as most of those detained return to the park after a brief stint in a precinct cell.
In their defense, regional officials say that looking after the park should be the task of municipal authorities. “Nowhere in the world do parks fall under the competence of regional authorities. In Greece they do because of an outdated piece of legislation. We don’t have the means to provide due care, there is not even a sanitation department,” said regional councilor Georgios Fountas.