NEWS

Arbitrarily chosen and planted, Olympic greenery doomed from outset

The tents are not the biggest problem facing the area, of course. They are simply a consequence of the fact that it has been completely neglected. The entire stretch has been abandoned to its fate. The withered seedlings are a pathetic reminder of the legacy the area was supposed to inherit from the 2004 Olympic Games. As in most cases of Olympic Games greenery, the planting was done in haste and the plants survived long enough to be seen by the visitors who came for the Games, but then they simply gave up the ghost. The western part of the area, stretching from the Kifissos River to the Peace and Friendship Stadium (SEF), is administered by the Municipality of Piraeus and was handed over by the Ministry of the Environment, Planning and Public Works (YPEHODE) to SEF (when the Kifissos-Poseidonos interchange went into operation on July 22, 2004). «It is true that the area is not adequately guarded and tended,» said SEF president Vassileadis, «but that is due to lack of staff. In other words, the will is there but we don’t have enough people. But we hope that the situation will change. »A decision has been made by the General Secretariat of Sport to announce positions for six or seven gardeners so that the entire area can be looked after.» Supervision SEF, which is responsible for an area that extends westward as far as the football field of the Piraeus Football Clubs League, has decided to supervise it more effectively by fencing it in, a project that is currently at the survey stage. The public will be permitted to enter the fenced-in area, Vassileiadis explained, but only via certain gates. Needless to say, this is still a future project. The eastern part, an area of 24 hectares running between the beds of the Ilissos and the Kifissos, belongs to the Olympic Properties company, whose president, Christos Hadziemmanouil, said that a park had been planned for the hill in the western part, while an open track-and-field stadium, two football fields and small five-a-side fields had been planned for the eastern part. «We have made proposals to the Municipality of Moschato for various ways of implementing the plans and we are waiting for their final answer,» said Hadziemmanouil. «Some fields must eventually be given to the municipality, and the track-and-field stadium to the Municipality of Piraeus and the Greek track-and-field federation (SEGAS). The area will be 55-60 percent park, and 40-45 percent sporting venues, while just 0.17 to 0.2 hectares will be built up, exclusively for sporting facilities (changing rooms and the like) that will not exceed a height of 3.5 meters.» According to Hadziemmanouil, the process is in the last stage of negotiations. Commenting on the poor image of the area at the moment, he was emphatic: «The area was planted a few months before the Games, at the wrong time and with the wrong plants. The bushes and seedlings they planted were guaranteed to dry out. The area needs proper tilling first, but that is beyond the range of our activities.» The most important outcome of these plans to refurbish the area, namely the delivery of a well-tended area to local residents, has been seriously delayed. SEF and Olympic Properties company officials promise that the situation will soon change. Let’s see if these officials manage to turn these words into deeds.