Opposition halts unpopular plans for Pedion tou Areos

Strong opposition from local residents has led to changes in plans to renovate one of Athens’s largest parks, the Pedion tou Areos at the bottom of Alexandras Avenue. The original plan provided for two main roads through the park from the statue of King Constantine I to May 1 Square and from the statue of the goddess Athena to Kypseli. These proposals have been scrapped by decision of Athens Prefect Fofi Yennimata, who promised that any changes to the park would be made by consensus. At the moment, work is in progress to clean up the park and reconstruct the playground next to the Panhellenic Gymnastics Association. As for the controversial plan to fence in the park, the source of further strong objections by the local residents’ coordinating committee, many of the new railings at entrances to the park have already collapsed due to action taken during demonstrations. «At most of these points there are walls enclosing the area. We don’t want railings on principle,» Gerasimos Sklavounos, a member of the committee told Kathimerini. The new plans call for the unification of the green spaces and a water channel throughout the park, linking the existing fountains and pond. Children’s play areas are to be renovated and exhibition spaces set up on the peripheral road in order to do away with temporary exhibits on the main thoroughfare. Lighting, benches, litter bins and other fixtures are to be replaced and more added. Features such as the outdoor theater, rock cave and sculptures are to be highlighted. Local residents are calling for the demolition of all structures which spoil the look of the park such as theater sets, unattractive metal fixtures, and illegally constructed buildings occupied by the Panhellenic Gymnastics Association. They want the area replanted with pre-existing vegetation.