Park planning at snail’s pace

The government has wasted 10 years in the bid to turn Athens’s former international airport into a park and has not done the right groundwork regarding future plans for the site once it is a park area, according to a university professor. Loudovikos Vasenhofen, professor of architecture at the National Technical University of Athens, said he is disappointed by the lack of progress in talks between the government and local authorities over the future park to be built in the beachside suburb of Hellenikon. «There should be discussions that relate to the operation of the park, its real purpose and how (the government) will work with the community,» he told Kathimerini. «To be honest… I am shocked by the positions taken by the two sides. The situation appears to be becoming extreme,» he said. Municipalities adjacent to the old Hellenikon airport object to government plans to sell 100 hectares of the site to developers as a means of paying for the project and its future upkeep. Local authorities are pushing for the whole area to be turned into a park and have organized local events, such as concerts, to whip up public support. Vasenhofen, who headed a now-defunct Environment Ministry committee to prepare a proposal for the conversion of the airport into a park, stressed that talks between the two groups need to be outlined more clearly. «I don’t understand how there can be a dialogue in order to find a solution without a detailed financial breakdown,» he pointed out. «Since there are no specific proposals, the project has no cost estimate. So how can they decide how much money is needed?»