Pavilion instead of park

The attempt by the management of Dionysos to take over the public parking area is not the first illegal action by Zonars SA, which has managed the restaurant for decades. In April 2004, the First Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities complained that «illegal construction work was gradually transforming the Dionysos tourist pavilion into a de luxe restaurant with continuous extensions to outdoor terraces and courtyards, without a permit.» Local residents have frequently complained about illegal work, to no avail, as the state services concerned do not go beyond making observations, if that. The real illegality is not in the extensions but in the construction of Dionysos. The amended town plan of 1957 designated the site as an area for a square and park. The land was appropriated for this purpose and the owners compensated in 1958 by the Public Works Ministry. This means that the land belongs to the Municipality of Athens, regardless of the fact that in 1961 the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) built a tourist pavilion there. It is a blatant example of the political vacuum that exists when it comes to environmental protection and public property. GNTO itself acknowledged the uncertainty about the ownership in its Comprehensive Technical Report of 1995, when it noted that Dionysos «is on a plot of land that belongs to the Greek state» to which «the Athens Municipality also lays claim.» Of course, the municipality has done nothing about it since then. Perhaps it is time to take action.

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