Huge expanse of Goudi faces uncertain future

The biggest metropolitan green space in Athens, until today, the park at Goudi, is unfortunate enough to have no fewer than 53 different owners, including the military, municipal authorities and university institutes. The 1985 Athens Master Plan defined the zone of defunct military buildings and unbuilt areas (out of a total of 450 hectares) as a metropolitan green space, allowing low-impact cultural and sporting uses on up to 10 percent of the area. Another 96.5 hectares (belonging the Ministry of Defense Fund) have been ceded to the City of Athens and the Municipality of Zografou with the aim of creating free green spaces. The green character of the area is anyway provided for by its incorporation into Mt Hymettus’s second protection zone, according to a 1978 presidential decree. Most of Goudi belongs to state bodies (the Greek Public Real Estate Corporation, ministries, university institutes, local authorities, etc.) and is governed by an exceptionally complex land grant system, ranging from outright ownership to usufruct. At Goudi, a total of 53 different properties and ownership statuses have been recorded. Within the area as a whole, there are nine civil and military hospitals, three ministries, military installations and public bodies (such as Greek radio and television broadcaster ERT), municipal sports facilities, a riding center, educational institutes, the Military Park, local parks and recreational woodland areas owned by the neighboring municipalities. NTUA study In November 1997, the organization for the Master Plan of Athens assigned the study for a metropolitan park at Goudi to the NTUA. It was completed in 1999. The study foresaw two stages in the planning of the park. The first, due in 2004, focused on planting the area so as to create a park that would be of high ecological value. In addition, it provided for the renovation of the buildings at the Goudi army camp, two footbridges (over Katehaki and Mesogeion avenues) and a passage under the Ilissos River. The area around the autonomous officers’ building cooperative east of Katehaki and south of Pindou Street in Papagou would also have been attached to the park as an unfenced area. In the second phase, scheduled to last till 2010, the remaining military facilities and the ERT building were to be removed and turned over to the park. Not one of these proposals has been realized. The study is still gathering dust in the authorities’ drawers, while many of the individual proposals have come up against opposition from the various bodies involved (chiefly military ones). During the Olympic Games, Goudi was used as a venue for the modern pentathlon and badminton. But though the badminton court was characterized as a temporary prefabricated building, by joint decision of the ministries of Culture and YPEHODE (July 31, 2002), which would be removed as soon as the Games were over, it remains in place. Scientific and environmental bodies, as well as inhabitants of the neighboring municipalities, are pressing the government to make the area a metropolitan park – while Panathinaikos soccer club is demanding the construction of a stadium on the 96.5 hectares of unbuilt land.

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