I am all for preserving gardens and creating more green spaces in Beirut and all across Lebanon, but I honestly can’t tell whether I should be for or against the plan aimed at creating an underground parking below the Jesuits Garden in Achrafieh. There’s a lot of ambiguity around this issue and just like the Fouad Boutros highway, none of the information being handled in the media can be verified.
Picture from UrbanStances
Here are few questions that came to my mind while reading about the Jesuits Garden:
Are the protesters/activists confident that this is a bad plan in the long run specially in an overcrowded area like Achrafieh? Are there any pictures of what this new project will look like? Is the municipality of Beirut going to tear down 200 year old trees present in the garden? What will happen to the 4th century mosaics on site? Are there a lot of daily visits to this garden? What is the estimated cost and duration of this project? Is it sustainable to build a garden on top of an underground parking? What happens if the project gets approved?
Picture from UrbanStances
If activists and protesters don’t deal with this issue properly and have a serious talk about it with the concerned parties, people will lose interest and the project will eventually get implemented maybe even without a garden.
Speaking of protests, I hope the ones held lately will encourage the residents of Rmeil, Jeitawi and all of Achrafieh to visit public gardens more often and activists to organize frequent events there. The reason why I am saying that is because I work next to a public garden in Achrafieh which no one ever goes to, and I am sure the same applies to a lot of public gardens in Beirut and all across Lebanon, so let’s start by giving the municipalities a good reason to reconsider their plans by making use of the green spaces available to us. I always thought the reason people don’t go to those public gardens is because they are not properly maintained, but that’s not true.
For those interested in knowing what the Beirut municipality had to say about this, check the interview L’Orient Le Jour has done with Rachid Achkar.
I grew up in Ashrafieh and I have so many fond memories visiting this garden as a young boy with my grandmother and parents.
I am completely again any destruction of green space in a concrete jungle city, especially this special garden, if it is indeed in the plans. Surely there has to be another site for a parking lot/garage.
I am totally against the DESTRUCTION of green spaces for whatever the reason is. But if you follow the interview with Mr. Achkar, it seems that THEY ARE NOT DESTRUCTING the garden. If this is true, and with GUARANTEES ( not to be naive and say yes for them), I think that building the parking UNDER the garden is a great idea. But again, who are those specialized engineers that will do the job ? are they reliable ? Do they have a guarantee and can they show us proof that the garden, the trees, the historical aspects will remain INTACT ?
Ambiguous case but seen from above (!) a fight should be put to preserve every cm of green space in the city of Beirut…Looking at great cities of the world should give us inspiration for finding creative solutions to the increasing problem of car parking.
If you read my latest post (http://leelouzworld.wordpress.com/2013/06/16/beirut-loosing-its-few-green-square-meters-for-a-parking/), you can find a letter written to the mayor of Beirut by Karim El-Jisr explaining the do’s and don’ts of this project.
There’s a metro station in New York city below Central Park. I don’t think there’s a problem if this is done properly.
“Done properly” is the key word in all of this…that is too much to ask for Lebanon…
I agree, it’s too much to ask for…