In and out of court

Seen from above, Veikou Park is a small green section of a vast tract of land bounded by Galatsi, Nea Ionia and Filothei. The expanse of the park is that part of the Veikou Estate that was not developed, and covers an area of about 400 hectares. There is a stark contrast between the park and the neighboring areas, in which two schools have been built in recent years. In the past 10 years, the tract of land became the focus of legal battles about whether it should be characterized as a forested area. In 1934, the Agriculture Ministry issued a ruling (No. 108424) for the reforestation of part of Attica, which stated that the area concerned was forest vegetation and pine forest before its destruction and degradation. An Athens Forest Inspectorate document dated November 11, 1968, designated half of the area as farmland. On September 6, 1994, the prefect of Athens designated 28.4 hectares of the area for reforestation. And on October 22, 1999, the Athens Forest Inspectorate designated 18.9 hectares of that area for reforestation. The legal disputes started in 1994, when 39 people claiming to be owners of land in the area appealed to the Council of State against the prefect’s ruling but their appeal was rejected in a 2000 decision (No. 1968/2000). Other court decisions accepted that in some cases certain plots of land on the estate were not forest but private real estate. The only party involved that did not need the decision of a court of law was the state, which put the Olympic indoor badminton court in an open part of the estate near the EYDAP water utility’s premises. After the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, the building was leased to Olympic Real Estate SA for conversion into a mall, a development which has met with strenuous opposition from some locals who believe that a mall would contradict the character of the estate and would be bad for the area.

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