National Gardens revamp

A new law has handed over responsibility for the National Gardens to the City of Athens, an objective Mayor Dora Bakoyannis has pursued doggedly for some time. She first made the proposal to then Prime Minister Costas Simitis a year and a half ago and it was approved by Parliament a number of studies and meetings later. The legislation turns responsibility for Athens’s most beautiful park over to the municipality for the next 90 years. City Hall is obliged to maintain, improve and protect the gardens, «which will retain its forestland character intact.» The same law arranges for the transfer of the park’s 40 workers to the City of Athens, though they will be paid by the Interior Ministry, which will also cover the costs of maintenance and additions to the park. Initial estimates place funding needs at 1 million euros a year. A five-year program to upgrade the National Gardens requires about 10 million euros, to be spent not only on maintenance but on the planting of new trees and restoring plant nurseries and the botany museum, among others. In the last 25 years, not one new tree has been planted. But the most serious problem that must be dealt with immediately is the park’s water supply. Daily needs come to 800-1,000 cubic meters, which neither the Athens Water Company nor the five boreholes that will soon go into operation will be able to meet.