Drive for greener Athens in 2005

A program, costing some 40 million euros, to make use of open spaces and increase the amount of greenery in Athens will come into effect next year, municipality sources told Kathimerini. The scheme, which will operate under the banner of «Uniting Free Spaces in Athens,» will have as its main tool the expropriation of land. The municipality has, over a number of years, earmarked various sites that it would like to turn into parks or gardens, but has never actually carried through its plans. Because of the delay, the landowners have, in the meantime, managed to obtain court decisions declassifying the sites and removing them from the list of areas to be expropriated. The new program envisages a swifter and more intense effort, to avoid repetition of this problem. Authorities have sprung into action already in some areas of the capital. In May, the municipality spent 6 million euros to take over 0.4 hectares in Neos Cosmos, near the city center. Officials have also drawn up a list of the sites they want to go after next. The two main priorities are an area next to the Fix park in Ano Patissia and a site in the northwestern suburb of Perissos. Operating alongside the expropriation effort will be a drive to plant some 7,000 trees, 25,000 bushes and 600,000 seasonal plants next year. The main areas to benefit from this initiative are to be Syngrou park, Philopappou Hill, the archaeological sites at Academia Platonos, the Thiseion gardens and Lycabettus Hill. In the same vein, the municipality is examining the possibility of going ahead with the creation of a series of roof gardens. It will start a pilot scheme next year, using the roofs of municipal buildings as testing grounds.