NEWS

Changes coming to Athens in 2004 will benefit visitors and local residents alike

A raft of projects appear in the City of Athens’s new technical program for 2004. They include dealing with the giant hole in the ground at Kerameikos, getting the cafe at Dexameni up and running again, cleaning 60 statues around the city, building an Olympic-sized swimming pool, refurbishing dozens of green spaces, establishing 50 playgrounds for kids and demolishing illegal buildings. Sprucing up A budget of around 123 million euros, triple that of 2003, will enable the municipality to further important technical work and spruce up the Olympic Games’ host city for visitors and, more importantly, for residents. Funds for social programs are up 30 percent and will go toward helping the elderly (by boosting the home-help project), drug users and the homeless, and to creating more childcare centers. Three new car parks are planned: for Larissa station, Patissia and – in cooperation with the Attiko Metro company, an underground car park at Kerameikos. The Varvakeio market square on Athinas Street is due for refurbishment with new cultural and recreational facilities that will include the surrounding sidewalks. The Technopolis arts complex is to get an extension for a model cultural space. Facades of workers’ houses on Dourgoti Street are to be spruced up and the Metaxourgeio complex is to be revamped as a cultural center. Children will benefit from seven new schools and 17 new classrooms, tree plantings at about 200 Athenian schools and warning lights erected at school crossings. Numerous five-a-side soccer pitches, a 300-seat gymnastics hall, and a new Olympic-sized pool in place of the old Serafeio Pool are also in the works. Extensive tree planting will give the city a new look: 200,000 seasonal plants will be introduced at 100 selected spots in Athens, and 5,400 large trees suited to the Attic climate will be planted. This green makeover is budgeted at around 6 million euros. Other important changes include improving the town-planning directorate’s database and greater monitoring of building permits.