2004 venues plan under fire

Proposals for the use of Olympic sites, heralded by the government on Wednesday, sparked intense disagreement yesterday amid accusations that they would allow businesses to concrete over vital open spaces in Athens. «The draft law’s image is negative for citizens. It is defined by two main factors – the cementing over of everything and putting economic interests before the unfettered use of the sites by the masses,» said PASOK MP Maria Damanaki, who reiterated demands from the Socialists for a parliamentary committee to discuss the subject before a bill on the post-Olympic use of the complexes is submitted to Parliament. Announcements made by Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias and Alternate Culture Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia on Wednesday indicated that the bill would only allow a maximum of 10 percent of the buildings within each site to be used for commercial activity. The ministers, however, added that they may allow a hotel to be built at the 550-hectare Hellenikon site and suites to be constructed at the Aghios Cosmas sailing center – much to the annoyance of the mayors and some residents of areas along the coast who fear the sites will be overrun with commercial activity. «The overall picture is that the government is reducing even further the amount of free space in Athens and is looking for investment opportunities that are clearly to the detriment of the environment and citizens’ quality of life,» said Left Coalition Synaspismos MP Michalis Papayiannakis. Palli-Petralia said the bill would improve the quality of life and protect the environment. Souflias said the draft law was «well-researched and thorough,» adding that it would be submitted to Parliament within the next 10 days.

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