Garbage and goats to be gone by July, so the work can begin

A curious mixture of sailing clubs, environmentalists, shepherds, beekeepers and municipal councilors have been behind the delays in the project so far, according to the Environment and Public Works Ministry. Each of these groups has had its own separate objections to the Faliron Bay project and each has had an alternative proposal, whether it was to claim ownership of the land or to retain the use of it. The ministry managed to find a number of solutions, such as alternative sites for the sailing clubs and various municipal activities, but failed to satisfy the groups concerned, resulting in a massive judicial operation to remove these activities from the disputed area. Since even this method has not been successful, last week the ministry initiated a process of evictions from the site by July, when any other use of the coastal land will raise considerable obstacles to the work under way. Even today, despite repeated negotiations, the area is home to a flock of sheep, dozens of beehives, a municipal parking lot for Kallithea’s garbage trucks, an official dump for cars withdrawn from circulation, municipal soccer and basketball fields, sailing clubs and a number of illegal garbage dumps. The greatest obstacle has been raised by sailing clubs refusing to move temporarily to Alimos, Pasalimani or the new marina at the Peace and Friendship Stadium, until the sailing center is completed. Some of the clubs, which have, in fact, for years been occupying sections of the coastline illegally, not only want their own boats there but want to continue to rent mooring space to about 250 other yachts. Earnings from these activities are considerable. A ministry official told us that monthly rates are as high as 1,400 euros (about 500,000 drachmas). The ministry believes that the problem will be solved eventually. The urban bus terminus at the delta is to be moved to the Flisvos Marina, and the garbage trucks are moving to a site nearby until they move to a permanent home in Aegaleo. Many municipal sporting venues in the area are being moved elsewhere, helped by subsidies. The Athens 2004 Organizing Committee has said that not everything has been difficult. The association of owners of inflatable craft not only moved out but its members offered their services as volunteers for the Games. The ministry said that about four hectares along the coast are illegally occupied. The ministry also pointed out that because of the need to divide the area into four separate work sites, any other activity in the area is impossible. A Moldovan worker on the Attiki Odos construction site in Menidi, northwestern Athens, was in stable condition in hospital yesterday afternoon after being shot in the shoulder by two armed men who burst into a hut where staff were waiting for their pay packets. The Moldovan was shot after trying to disarm one of the assailants who left the hut with 20,000 euros. After crashing their motorbike into a car entering the work site, the robbers forced a nearby scooter driver to hand over his vehicle on which they made their getaway.