Activists on Monday presented a petition urging the Taipei City Government to abandon its Taipei Dome build-operate-transfer (BOT) project and instead build a public park on the site.
The long-stalled dome project by the Farglory Group obtained construction approval from the city’s Urban Design Review Committee in June, with construction of the 40,000-seat indoor stadium complex and commercial facilities at the abandoned Songshan Tobacco Factory scheduled to commence next month.
The petition, which was signed by nearly 100 specialists and academics, was presented at a press conference at the Taipei City Council. The initiators of the petition — the Organization of Urban Re-s (OURs), the Songshan Tobacco Factory Park Union, the Taiwan Environment Information Center, the Society of Wilderness and the Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association — questioned the rationale for building the dome.
They said it would have a negative impact on the environment, including the destruction of a historic site and old trees, and would cause noise and air pollution as well as traffic problems.
Tamkang University transportation management associate professor Chang Sheng-hsiung (張勝雄) said a stadium that could accommodate more than 10,000 people needed more space to meet transportation needs.
While the planned dome is next to an MRT station, “according to the developer’s reports, the platform at Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall’s MRT Station can accommodate 4,728 people. Doing some calculations [assuming a train arrives every 4 minutes] shows it will take up to an hour for 20,000 people to leave the dome,” Chang said.
Moreover, if hundreds of buses and thousands of cars or motorcycles come at once to pick up the crowd, it will certainly cause severe traffic jams, he said.
On the issue of economic efficiency, Huang Rei-mao (黃瑞茂), a professor of architecture at Tamkang University, said the dome would mainly be used for music performances, but there is already the Taipei Pop Music Center project in Nangang District (南港) with 6,000 seats, Taipei Arena with 15,000 seats and the Taipei World Trade Center Nangang Exhibition Hall with 18,000 seats, all near the site of the dome.
He said the dome could become the largest vacant building in the country because of its enormous scale and corresponding high rent, making it hard to reclaim its management cost.
The groups also called for an expansion of public green spaces, adding that the dome project would destroy the last “green lungs” of the eastern side of Taipei.
A report by the city’s Public Works Department in 2009 showed that the average green space per person in Taiwan was 5.16m2, which OURs said was lower than Seoul’s 15.93m2, Beijing’s 12.6m2 and Singapore’s 7.99m2.
OURs added in a press release that the average nighttime temperature in metropolitan Taipei was about 3°C higher than the global average, and that the number of days in downtown Taipei where temperatures rose above 35°C was also increasing.
The group called for the creation of a green space at the dome site to prevent an increase in the urban heat island effect, modulate sudden rainfall and maintain biodiversity.