OPINION

Messing up Maroussi

Regarding your article «Maroussi mayor fixes up Olympic ‘home town’» (July 22), you were very, very kind to the mayor and his spokesperson. As someone who walks from the train to Kifissias Avenue to and from work every day, I suggest that what this gentleman considers to be «public» works must be a very liberal interpretation, and I am not willing to be so kind. Certainly the timing of the «radical facelift» is ill-considered. Streets could have simply been shut down to traffic during the Olympics with concrete barriers to open the area to pedestrians, while a far more practical and well-conceived plan might have been thoroughly thought out and implemented after this summer. As it is, the scope and schedule look like a boon to the granite brick and labor contractors, and a huge mess, inconvenience, financial liability (to the beleaguered storekeepers), and waste of money to the rest of us. The streets are impassable, with no alternative routes to use for pedestrians or vehicles. The streets have been dug up to become mud pits, rock and dust piles. Those that are «finished» are little better. This will doubtless be a boon to the contractor who will be paid to repair the stones over and over again, as many are already coming loose. That will doubtless not improve when heavy store delivery and municipal refuse trucks roll over them, making their necessary rounds. I doubt the area can become a «giant pedestrian center:» As a man wearing sensible business shoes, I find the new streets a walking disaster: slippery when wet, and uncomfortable and precarious, as it is difficult to negotiate the uneven stone surfaces of the streets. Doubtless, too many women in fashionable footwear will soon be suffering from sprained ankles and broken shoes, and will probably carefully reconsider future pleasurable walks through the town.   Many storeowners will be even more incensed then they are now. After enduring empty shops, the first heavy seasonal rains virtually guarantee that water will invade many premises, as the central street drains, already clogged with construction refuse, fail to handle the load, and inadequately and incorrectly graded streets fail to channel water away from their front doors… Now, cars and motorbikes simply snake around inadequate barriers to surprise pedestrians who are watching their footing, where there used to be streets with sidewalks and curbs. The bus, automobile and taxi access to the metro station has also apparently been completely eliminated – which defeats the idea of a mass transportation hub integrating with other forms of transportation. Does the mayor not consider that there is an integrated master transportation plan… behind rail and bus lines? (The train station itself is another ugly, overstated boondoggle, recently completed – a Pompidou Center-like apparition that is far out of scale, color, style and everything else one can bring to mind, with the surrounding parks and buildings. A far more modest structure, in line with some of the other train stations recently built along the line, would have been far more agreeable to both eyes and budget. But no, another wasteful, ugly tribute to concrete and steel contractors had to be made.) Hopefully, the residents of Maroussi will have the wisdom in the next election to select a mayor who will do his best to mitigate this disaster – the «Prague Look,» of 945 BC, or thereabouts. DENNIS MURPHY – Maroussi