Sat, Dec 23, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Treasure Hill residents holding out

CHOOSING TO LEAVE Taipei City spokesman Teng Tsung-te said that of the 60 to 70 households in the community, most had decided to take a cash payout

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

A municipal renovation project at Treasure Hill, a historical community in southern Taipei, commenced yesterday amid opposition from several residents who have refused to vacate the neighborhood.

Home to veterans of the Chinese Civil War who fled to Taiwan with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) around 60 years ago, Treasure Hill was packed with aging and illegal structures built by the residents.

Although the Taipei City Department of Cultural Affairs has recognized the area's historical significance and promised to preserve it, some residents have refused to cooperate with the city government's two-year reconstruction project, which required the residents to move to temporary houses by yesterday.

"It's too rushed. The city government only told us about the move a month ago, and the temporary accommodation wasn't ready until yesterday. It's too much to ask us to move out by today," said a 70-year-old resident surnamed Chang, who declined to give his full name.

The department, along with workers from Taiwan Power Corp, Taipei Water Corporation and police officers cut off the area's utilities and asked residents from 29 households to move out, so that the repair work could proceed as scheduled.

Department spokesman Teng Tsung-te (鄧宗德) said that of the 60 to 70 households in the community, 29 chose to move to a transitional housing block nearby the construction area.

Most households chose to take a payout of NT$720,000 to move out of the community, he said.

Disputing the city government's handling of the case, Yang Chi-chie (楊子傑), an activist from the Treasure Hill Commune, said the community should not be touched at all. Treasure Hill Commune is a civic organization dedicated to preserving the community.

"We don't think the city government should continue the reconstruction if it really wants to preserve the place," he said.

There were residents, however, who cooperated with the project.

"It's not safe anymore to live in those shabby houses, and I am actually looking forward to the new houses," said Chang Shou-li (張守禮), director of the Treasure Hill Cultural Association, which was organized by local residents.

The department cooperated with the private sector in 2003 on the Treasure Hill Artivists Cooperative project aimed at turning the area into an artist community.

The department said it will negotiate with the remaining residents.

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