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.