Saturday, July 12, 2014

Marching to Save Lido's Trees, Yesterday

A two-lanes-wide line of protesters stretches much of the length of Lido's Gran Viale
I've always thought that much of the charm of Lido's Gran Viale--the island's main commercial street of shops and restaurants running from its main vaporetto stop to the Adriatic--comes from the irregular greenery lining either side. But the redevelopment plans drawn up by the city and Insula (a half-public half-private company responsible for infrastructure projects in Venice) for the important thoroughfare calls for the removal of basically everything growing there. Some 280 trees and shrubs in all have been designated to be cut down this summer and a lot of Lido residents are not happy about it.

At least a thousand residents of Lido took to the Gran Viale yesterday evening at 6 pm, tying up traffic in both directions, to protest the redevelopment plans that would leave just two trees standing. In April of this year the city environmental councilor, Gianfranco Bettin, claimed that the Gran Viale's trees and shrubs were fatally ill with "risalita salina" (rising saltwater) and would have to be removed. The protestors yesterday disputed this claim, asserting that if there were some sick trees on the Gran Viale--though nothing like 280 of them--they were suffering from being improperly planted and poorly maintained.

Protesters also questioned the other justification now offered by the city and Insula for the greenery's removal: that roots along the Gran Viale will interfere with the installation of a new sewer system. In a city where each day's paper seems to lay bare yet more of the extensive corruption of the MOSE water gates, residents are now demanding the kind of transparency notably absent from both that multi-billion euro project and from the plans for the Gran Viale. Their fear is that the city and Insula are--with no input from citizens nor significant oversight--pursuing a disastrous course of action on Lido at this time of acute fiscal crisis that is as unnecessary and counter-productive as it is costly.

Whether the protest will have any effect is anyone's guess at this point. The plans of the city and Insula call for the trees to fall to the ax this summer, while the protesters are asking the city commissioner to immediately block the removal of any and all trees and shrubs.

You can read objections to and concerns about the Gran Viale project at, and on the Facebook page

It's not easy being Green: two protesters symbolically chained to one of the trees due to be removed from the Gran Viale

No comments:

Post a Comment