A skyline cleanup for 2004

Seeking to tidy Athens’s skyline, Olympics planners want to remove thousands of aerials from buildings along some of the capital’s main avenues and replace existing connections with either cable or centralized antennas – one per building. The campaign, one of several plans intended to beautify the capital ahead of the 2004 Olympics, is expected to begin within the next month. According to the project’s officials, the anti-antenna campaign will initially target buildings along segments of eight main avenues: Kifissias, Vassilisis Sofias, Mesogeion, Vassileos Constantinou, Syngrou, Kallirois, Kifissou, and Poseidonos. The region to be included in the cleanup program, officials said, is already equipped with the required infrastructure for cable television links. The intended operation includes part of the marathon route for the Athens Olympics. All in all, some 3,000 aerials are expected to be removed from Athenian rooftops. Officials say economic incentives will be given to encourage residents and merchants to take down their aerials, but participation, they say, is not considered obligatory. Details as to the incentives have not been given. The project is being coordinated by the Ministry of Town Planning with the support of Athens 2004, the Olympiad’s organizing committee. A similar-minded effort had been made a little over a decade ago, without the prospect of an Olympiad, but it eventually fell through as a result of insufficient funds. A pilot program had been set into motion in the downtown Exarchia and Plaka districts before the scheme was shelved. Looking ahead to the Games, officials have already taken down hundreds of billboards in the capital’s downtown region as part of the city’s pre-Olympics cleanup effort, most of them in a recent refurbishment of central Omonia Square. Facades of the few old buildings that have escaped the bulldozing will also be repainted. Besides cleaning up the skyline, the cable-TV initiative also promises to offer recipients the benefit of impeccable reception and picture quality.