PEDIO AREOS park: «In “BREACH of the Forest Laws &Planning Regulations.

In “BREACH   of   the Forest Laws &  PLANNING   REGULATIONS”

CONSTRUCTION   WORKS    FOR  A  RECREATION  Public Project          

                                          IN THE    

         “Pedio Areos”    Forest   Historical   Park   in                  

                     CENTRAL    ATHENS    Greece.

We are addressing to your department as exclusively qualified for Environmental issues seeking prevention and intervention   in the following matters.

The announcement of   our   formally new Greek   government that will receive all the related complaints and expostulations so to handle and solve somehow the badly forced and stated acts (although seeking comprehension and solidarity from the citizens for the “extreme” financial measures to be taken in 2010)    definitely   is giving us   some   hope.

We are submitting our petition and complaint because except of a matter concerning related environmental deviation and degradation it is also a matter of market failure and moral hazard by squandering and spending lavishly national and community funds that are raised through the payers  {provided for particular purpose}. ( For. ex: the remodeling and recreation of National Parks and “green area leisure zones” and consequently the demanding  improvement of the city’s air-quality). Contrary to that the pictures and photos enclosed show and  prove that this type of projects  are backing and financing the building-construction-sector-&-contracting-corporations.                                                           

This is a chronic and constantly vexing phenomenon that takes place in our country and involves the first and second degree Local Authority creating anger indignation and passive resistance from the local citizens that most of the time participate and react through forced activism to fight back with their financial few means against the Greek Public Administration.  Although activist groups and groups of local citizens as the signatory with a legitimate interest are usually persecuted with dictated articles from the Media and frequently pressed with charges.

The central secular and historic park of Athens  «PEDION AREOS» close to the Archeological Museum of Athens covers an area of aprox. 235.000 sq.m. Its management and direction just like any related construction interventions are subject to the provisions of the articles “24” and “117” of the Greek Constitution and the  998/1979 environmental law.

According to these any variation and modification of the forestation status and character of this land is prohibited.   The forest and reforestation character of “Pedio Areos” central park of Athens, has been acknowledged and confirmed by the legislative decree Law of 998/1979 and has been repeatedly asserted by the legal precedent of the Supreme Court For instance.(case 2568/1981), the Independent Legal Institutions in our country, as well as from the Head of the Forestry Commission in Athens, the Department of Forest  Nature and Environmental Protection of the Ministry of Agriculture and Development (documents 102226/4725/16-12-2008).

The Prefecture Local Authority of Athens and Piraeus that undertook the Direction, Management and possession of Pedio Areos (controlling the property without regard to common public ownership) since the year 2000  is   ignoring   the forestation character of this land.

      This Project for a Recreation Plan  was co financed by the European Union and the Regional Venture Program of Attica 2000 – 2006 and the European Program for Regional Development funded with 80% of   the budget (the remaining 20% comes from National funds).                                                                                            

      This type of Public project in a gradually shrinking forest land area  “a Tragedy of the Commons in itself” consisted  of building construction interventions that were executed violating the obligations of reforestation hence the replacement of greenery and vegetation demolition and removal of the abusive illegal  and the in breach of the forest laws and regulations reinforced concrete elements as also the inadmissible alteration of the forest fate of Pedio Areos central Park of Athens.                                                                                                                                                       

       It is useful to note that from an amount of   9,150,000   Euros of the Total budget which is the cost for this “Recreation Plan,” {fiscal year 2006}   59% (4,495,000 Euros ) have  been  directed to civil works, concrete elements, building surfacing materials  and excavations , 32% (2,473,000 €) have been  directed to ELM  Electromechanical and Plumbing works and scarcely the 9% (721,000 €) to plantation works.

These unlawful and in breach of the forest laws and planning  regulations accumulated  construction interventions have been set from the very beginning intentionally and persistently at the “Topographic Surveys and Technical Planting Plan” of the year 2008 { The design and supervision were carried out by the architectural offices of A.N. Tombazis and H. Bougadelis in joint venture. Sophia Paraskevopoulou, who was the project architect, and Andreas Barboutsis, horticulturist and landscape consultant to the project team. } and some others have continued to be executed and take place in violation erratically and illegally with no respect to the biennial contract and “the official File of the Architectural Documentation Final Drawings 2008” neglecting relative indictments brought up by the Head of the forests Commission in Athens and neglecting the known archive of air photographs and snapshots ( years 1965 – 2007 ) of the Greek National Geographic Society and the Ministry of Environment.

The lawyer……… a resident   himself   in   that area with his family, repeatedly appealed to the “Supreme State Court”  ¨ΣτΕ¨ to annul the execution of the works. Final hearing hasn’t taken place yet.

During the reckless execution of these works trees have been cut down previously and never have been replaced in order to give the advantage and free space in concreting where marble curbs have been replaced by low cost concrete curbs and old “Outdoor Post Lanterns” supported by massive octagonal marble base have been replaced by low cost rectangular concrete base lanterns.  A quite   extensive area  according to the DFD drawings has already been covered with concrete {a min 6,000 cubic meters of reinforced concrete elements according  to our  estimations = the equivalent amount of reinforced concrete of ‘6’ sixth story high buildings  } and marble covering tiles and concrete surfacing ( ¼ of the Total forested area )  with high thickness contrary to the obligations of non involvement in actions of soil sealing – filling and damaging with building materials the porous layers of the soil, For. ex (European Guidelines for Soil Strategy and Management COM 2006/232 – COM2006/231), contrary also to the announcements in public and commitment   of the High-Prefect of the city of Athens & Piraeus (Υπερνομάρχης), that not even a cubic meter of concrete will be poured and that the access road network   of the park will be covered with earth following also the grounds of a previous “Supreme State Court” decisions of the Suspension’s Commission.

In reality the forest scarcity value of the resource is ignored and completely violated ever since. In the meantime construction works have continued to be executed without an authorized permission by the Forest Department and to the disclaim and refusal of the “ “Management” to issue the acts of reforestation and demolition of   the concrete building elements.

So far in the case of Pedio Areos Recreation Plan the Administration which is composed of its Secretaries and General Secretary of the Attika Region refuse to materialize the proscribed reforestation and fulfill their   undertakings   relieved from their obligations (the Attika Region) by accomplishing an attack to the forest character of this area   ( the Prefecture Local   Authority of Athens ) doing this in connivance of the government authorities.

According to “Science of Environmental Economics” and Market Failure a pure public good which is also an environmental asset should be available to all and “one person’s consumption”  should not reduce “another person’s consumption” (the local citizens). An example of a public good is a tropical forest but there are also other public goods such as an “Ecosystem” that reduces utility or profits such as pollution or noise and benefits to the general sustainability of a city.

Because  of  the  vulnerable  environmental character  of this Project,  a Market Failure occurs since most of the local citizens ignore “the type of the transaction”  that has  taken  place (Asymmetric information) we should firmly state that a Moral Hazard and “incentive problem” also arises when the actions of “ one person” are unobservable to a “second person.”(the local residents).

Consequently  the farrago and multitudinous of the engaged companies under the directions of the Prefecture Local Authority of the city of Athens for this   Recreation Plan conceal their preferences for “the good”  in order to enjoy the benefits without paying for them!!    (Free Rider situation –Environmental Regulation).

Year 2011

A Renovation – Recreation project Plan never fully implemented.

A long way to the Greek Supreme Court “ΣτΕ and with no decisions being made yet.

To the unfinished – uncompleted   Project plan easily identified at a first glance and delivered off schedule by the Greek state. We confirm that instead of an Ecological Restoration type of a park and based to our at least 450 digital “snap shots”, years 2008-2011   we saw the dig in construction and burial of a minimum of 6,000 cubic meters of concrete elements being equivalent to the volume of the reinforced concrete framework of at least “6 six story apartment   blocks within a characterized forest park!!!

The initial budget of 9,150.000  $ Euros in the year 2006 plus the assessment values plus the 400,000 $ Euros spend for restoring unidentified damages in the “Protomagias” square within the P.A park did not offer anything substantial to help improve the city’s air quality and environmental conditions in the downtown Athens.  “Expert opinion of University Professors”.

An uncompleted project:  Reason because:

  1. ‘2’ main existing toilets – W.C never fully operational yet.
  2. Two existing listed buildings “Alsos” and “Green Park” though included into the File of renewal of this public project plan have never been renovated – refurbished.
  3. A deliberate action of non planting high density trees part of the imperative reforestation of this park.
  4. The forest land area of the park is being irrigated with an exposed surface network of thin and inexpensive pipes likely to inflict injury and never operational.
  5. Visitors and users of the park having no other choice “relax” themselves on wooden benches consisting of three wooden stripes of worn out planks clearly demonstrating in this way the incongruity of the immense amount of money already spend.

Head of the Forestry Commission & Prefect of Attica has issued an official document and ordered to demolish the in breach of Forest Laws & planning regulations construction of reinforced concrete elements. Up to the present year no measures to limit soil sealing have been taken.  The area covered in violation of the Environmental Community Law and based to are valid estimations corresponds at least to  ¼ of the Total area of the park  { 235,000sq.m – 60,000sq.m } proving that the nature of this public project is Totally Environmentally Unfriendly. Contractor and Management never came up with alternatives techniques to prevent or mitigate the effects of soil sealing though we definitely believe that this should be an Architect’s and contractor’s challenge. 

And more than this all is in defiance & straight contradiction and logical incongruity to that reported to the suspending plaque close to the commemorative monument of Athena that the works for this Public project {for the above reported spending allocations}  have already been completed since Dec.2010 !!!

A real long  term project.

With a high sounding title at the local newspaper “News of the district Kypseli” April 2011 has been reported that from the Prefecture of Attica extra funds of 5,100.000 $ Euros will be allocated for the two parks in Athens Pedion tou Areos park and Attica park./through the ESPA Programme.

Although we remain astonished   counting on previous official statements to the Media declaring that this “Recreation Public Project Plan” has been completed…   “How come” truly indeed is it possible with our bare eyes has never been completed yet?   Therefore because we believe that the above mentioned extra fund of money will be spent on the preservation and completion of the two reported listed buildings we have to wonder based to our humble opinion what type of maintenance will be provided to the afflicted in many ways central and secular forest park of Athens since simply enough a pittance or petty cash of money will be left for.

Finally in conclusion we remain astonished to previous known statements of the Greek government and representatives of the IMF that usually declared that the vast majority of the Greeks are “steeped in shit” and yet “very deep”.  Thus we all have spent {ate in Greek} the public … together!!!                                                                                         So in the coming future let’s get ready we the remaining intelligent Greeks reflect and work hard to be convinced and obey to the rules as quoted in  the words of “Symonides” (for the sacrifice of Leonidas and the 300 at Thermopylae) :  τοις κείνων ρήμασι πειθόμενοι.

“A word to the wise is enough”

In conclusion up to this moment with selfless devotion and actions though its time the local residents of central Athens repudiate it therefore  we wish to inform you by giving  the appropriate attention to this matter that we have sent a multitude of “document complaints” addressed to the various departments and authorities in our country and that unfortunately none of the steps been taken all these years was really sufficient and effective to prevent and avoid the consolidation of a transgression status and consequently from our point of view (beneath one’s very eyes) the global environmental damage of this Forest Park in central Athens.

Athens Greece

The local residents

Article has been written by Markaras Polykarpos                                                                  Arch.Eng. Univ.Rome  Msc Univ. NTUA-Piraeus.

Parashakis G. Legal.adv.



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