Mayors oppose park sell-off

Four mayors from councils bordering on the former airport at Hellenikon called on the Environment Ministry yesterday to plant trees across the entirety of the old airport site rather than sell parts of what is set to become Europe’s largest metropolitan park to finance the project. The group of mayors, from the Argyroupolis, Glyfada, Hellenikon and Alimos councils, said that a study prepared by the Technical Chamber of Commerce (TEE) shows that if all of the old airport is planted with trees, it would help to lower the average temperature in the city by about 1 to 1.5 degrees Celsius (1.8 to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). «We are in favor of keeping the whole area as a park and financing this via the rental of the Olympic venues. If the 100 hectares are sold, then we are sure that the revenues will quickly disappear,» said Stelios Sfakianakis, the mayor of Glyfada. The area currently hosts six sports venues, used for the 2004 Olympic Games, and two training facilities. Environment Minister Giorgos Souflias said on Thursday that the transformation of the 500-hectare area into a park will be completed in seven years and that about 20 percent of this will need to be sold to building developers to finance the project. According to TEE, the planting of trees in the park, rather than grass and bushes, would double the green area for each Athenian from 2 square meters to 4. «The two big political parties want to create a new municipality next to our municipalities,» Sfakianakis added. «Their plans are based on the logic of using bulldozers and coddling business interests.» Five years after the international airport was moved to its new home in Spata, eastern Attica, the government appears split on how it will create what it has called the «biggest metropolitan park in Europe.» Meanwhile, the City of Athens Council said yesterday that it will increase the number of recycling bins it has placed around the city to 500 by the end of the summer as residents have responded well to the environmentally friendly

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