No shame, no brains: Dry lake at Piso Livadi filled in for building

The mayor, local engineers and contractors claim that illegal building only goes on outside town zoning limits. However, a huge concrete construction is now going up in the port that belongs to Marpissa, Piso Livadi. At the end of 1995, three prospective investors from Menidi, western Athens, bought a 0.72-hectare property right in the catchment area for the district’s rainwater, namely an old lake that dries up in summer and becomes a meadow. Two days after Christmas the same year, they divided up the land into five plots in contracts drawn up by a notary public in Athens. In 2005, using their influence with a particular official at the Environment and Public Works Ministry, they obtained from the Naxos building authority permits to build 2,000 square meters of homes and shops on a site that was waterlogged just 60 centimeters below ground level. Thousands of cubic meters of concrete were poured into the former lake. Meanwhile there is no road access, in contravention of the law. When it rained in January 2007 and the surrounding houses flooded because the lake had been filled in, 25 local residents initiated proceedings with the building authority, which halted work and warned the engineer, who is also a prefectural councilor, because the basement was higher than permitted and because the fact that the site was a lake had been concealed. In March, the Naxos building authority ordered work to be stopped because the basements had been built at ground-floor level, and also ordered a report on rainwater flow. The report, which includes recommendations to the Municipality of Paros to enlarge its own rainwater channel so as to make life easier for the investors, was approved in record time. Even though work had been halted, the investors are optimistic that they will finish filling in the lake and have applied to the municipal water authority for 54 water meters. When this writer’s great-grandfather built the first house on the shore of this lake in 1928, the house had its own well and no one dreamt of drinking one’s neighbor’s water. Today the old wells are full of mud and the last remaining farmers are thinking of giving up the struggle.