Seafront encroachment began in 1968

During the colonels’ junta in Greece (1967-1974), trips in a helicopter were not unusual for the tourism minister, Michalis Balopoulos. He would point out the beaches that he liked to his young secretary so that they could be designated for «tourist development.» In November 1968 the junta gave the Greek National Tourist Organization (GNTO) the right to develop 12 areas in the country. Four of these were beaches in the Saronic Gulf. For this purpose, an act was passed which stipulated the areas where the GNTO had certain rights. The lease was valid for a period of 75 years. The only area excluded from the act was Glyfada, due to the close relationship between the mayor at the time and the junta leadership. In the Glyfada municipality, the area between the coastal avenue and the shoreline was reclaimed and filled in with debris. Five months after the fall of the junta in November 1974, the legal validity of the above act was recognized by the Court of Appeal. The act remained in force until the government of Costas Simitis decided to hand over the commercial exploitation of tourism properties along the seafront to private enterprises. Rescue plan for Glyfada A few weeks ago, Deputy Finance Minister Petros Doukas met representatives of the Hellenic Public Real Estate Corporation (KED), a team of researchers and Glyfada municipality officials to discuss the eventual restoration of a section of the seafront in Glyfada, about 2.2 kilometers long. The contracts signed between KED and various users will expire in 2008. Most, if not all, the private enterprises have illegally extended the areas allocated to them. The government has decided to put an end to the current situation in Glyfada, a municipality that receives as much as 1 million euros a year from marinas alone. Development on the Glyfada seafront over the past 15 years has led to a fall in property values, in particular beaches and private properties. Some shipowners in the area have tried for many years to curb infringements and illegal building along the seafront. To conduct the study, KED has appointed the Digenis architectural office, which had undertaken a study of the seafront prior to the Olympic Games in 2004. The study was never completed as the PASOK government then withdrew its plan to upgrade the coastal strip from Piraeus to Varkiza. In the study, Sakis and Andreas Digenis recommended that «the small marinas situated at the level of central Glyfada Square be removed from the seafront, which is currently built up and without public access.» KED believes that the study will enable it to control land use. Various forms of illegal and irregular use which expired were given a five-year extension on March 3, 2004, by virtue of a presidential decree issued shortly before elections, but the initial contracts signed by the private enterprises with KED expire in 2008. One nightclub owner, Stelios Gidopoulos, has a permit for 300 square meters but the club actually covers nearly 2,000 square meters. KED plans to include a clause that will nullify new contracts if barriers are built that hinder public access to the seafront. Areas will be paved in such a way that it will be possible to see whether private entrepreneurs are making illegal use of the seafront by adding more chairs and tables then provided for in the lease and contract with the municipality.

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