OPINION

Letter to the Editor

In response to two articles published in the March 15 issue of Kathimerini English Edition, the City of Athens would like to inform readers on a number of issues relating to the program implemented by former Mayor Dora Bakoyannis: – The claim that sidewalk restoration works were carried out solely in the city center is incorrect. A total of 2.65 million euros was spent on works in the 1st District, which encompasses several neighborhoods beyond the city center, while a total of 8.85 million euros was spent in areas outside the city center (Kypseli, Pangrati, Petralona, Sepolia, Kolonos, Galatsi, Ambelokipi, Patission St, etc). – Comparing the proportion of green space per person in Athens with that of other European cities is useful in a historical sense, but as far as Athens is concerned, the geographical area for which the municipality is responsible was planned and developed many years ago. The areas that have not been built upon are so few that even if all of them were converted into green spaces, we would still not reach the European average. These areas are located in densely populated neighborhoods and, therefore, the cost of expropriation would be prohibitive. – Unfortunately, the area of Elaionas in Goudi has not hosted olive trees or any type of greenery for decades. This former industrial area is now derelict and home to massive factory buildings that have been out of operation for over 15 years. The existing presidential decree foresees – on paper – that 46 percent of the specific area of Elaionas that falls within City of Athens boundaries be designated green space. However, it fails to mention the potential sources of the hundreds of millions of euros in funding that would be required for expropriation purposes. – The Panathinaikos soccer stadium project will involve the creation of 120,000 square meters of green space, significantly reduce the amount of cement in Attica (with the demolition of the old factory buildings in Votanikos) and act as a catalyst for the gradual implementation of the presidential decree. This will enable it to be transformed into one of the greenest parts of the city. – During her term as mayor, Dora Bakoyannis was responsible for the expropriation of 20,000 square meters of property that will be converted into green space, in one of the most significant greenery initiatives Athens has seen in many years. If one adds the green spaces planned for Votanikos and the former site of the Panathinaikos soccer stadium on Alexandras Avenue, then this initiative is unprecedented for the City of Athens. – The entire area of Varvakeios Square was upgraded and the businesses that operate there are located in a commercial zone. Its existence acts as a deterrent to suspicious and dangerous elements which, prior to the upgrade, had taken up permanent residence in the square. – A system of parking management is one of the municipal administration’s key priorities. Following the necessary preliminary work – namely, traffic circulation and environmental studies, a major increase in the size of the City Police force, the voting in of an operational framework by the Athens City Council and an international tender for a traffic management firm – a carefully designed, new parking system will be introduced after Easter in much of the city. – The City’s recycling system also involved meticulous preparation, including a very successful pilot program. Within the next few weeks, the system will be applied throughout the city and in cooperation with the Hellenic Recycling Company, an agency approved by the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works Ministry. – Our building facade restoration program is considered an international success with 3,000 building facades, or five apartment buildings per day, restored within two years of the relevant law’s implementation. For the City of Athens, the positive attitude and interest shown by property owners, the continuation of the program in Athens and the introduction of similar initiatives throughout the country as part of regional development programs are far more important than the numerical achievements. PRESS OFFICE, City of Athens.