Sun, Nov 22, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Protesters decry sacrifice of trees for Taipei Dome

By Vincent Y. Chao  /  STAFF REPORTER

Residents joined environmental organizations at the Songshan Tobacco Factory in Taipei yesterday to protest the removal of trees to make way for construction of the Taipei Dome.

The protesters said that more than 100 of the 384 trees moved in the early phases of construction had died and accused the Taipei City government along with construction contractors of negligence.

Production at the tobacco factory, which occupies about 18 hectares in Xinyi District (信義), stopped in 1998 and parts of the site have since been designated a historical site by the municipal government.

In 2002, the Executive Yuan said the site would be used for the Taipei Dome.

The complex will feature an indoor 40,000-seat stadium, hotels, department stores, a shopping center and an office building. Farglory Dome, the operator of the build-operate-­transfer contract, said the site will also include an ecological park and cultural center.

However, Arthur Yo (游藝), an organizer of the protest, said the community hopes the entire site would instead be turned into a park and a preserve — something a city like Taipei desperately needs.

Standing at the foot of a large, withered tree that organizers said died because of neglect by the authorities, Yo said the municipal government had paid little attention to the well-being of residents and environmental protection while pandering to the interests of large corporations.

He said the trees should be kept for future generations to enjoy.

Yo was later joined by residents holding signs that read: “We want parks, not the Taipei Dome.”

The Taipei Dome project has been marked by controversy since the Control Yuan demanded earlier this year that the city government and the contractor fix 39 problems with the project, including changing subcontractors and the design of the stadium. Construction had been scheduled to begin earlier this year.

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