Mon, Oct 31, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Make tobacco factory into a park: protesters

GREENERY, NOT CONCRETE:Protesters say that the government ignored both their calls to make Songshan Tobacco Factory a park and Farglory’s missed deadlines

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff Reporter

Hundreds of Taipei residents came together at a plaza next to Taipei City Hall yesterday afternoon in a march against the planned Taipei Dome construction project at the abandoned Songshan Tobacco Factory (松山菸廠). The demonstrators called for a municipal park to replace the planned dome.

Some participants wore Halloween costumes to reflect the march’s theme: “Trick or Trees: Protect Green Spaces for a Sustainable Taipei.”

The march began at the Taipei City Hall and passed by project developer Farglory Group’s headquarters, before it reached the abandoned Songshan Tobacco Factory.

The long-stalled Taipei Dome build-operate-transfer (BOT) project began in 2006, when the city government signed a contract with Farglory to construct a 40,000-seat indoor stadium complex with commercial facilities. It obtained approval from the city’s Urban Design Review Committee in June.

The march’s organizer, civic group Songshan Tobacco Factory Park Union director Yu Yi (游藝) said the city government ignored the Taipei City Council’s decision to terminate the contract with Farglory and keep the site as a park if it could not make improvements recommended by the Urban Design Review Committee before the deadline.

The developer was supposed to submit its financing contract with a bank to the City Government in June, but the government also extended that deadline to Nov. 16, Yu said, adding that civic groups have tried to communicate reasonably with the government over the past five years, but it always ignored them, so from now on they would firmly express their determination to preserve green spaces in Taipei.

Referencing the Forest Spirit from the renowned Japanese anime film Princess Mononoke, the protesters held a large hand-made green puppet named the Basin Forest Spirit as they marched through Xinyi District (信義), shouting: “No BOT on the green spaces,” and “Don’t replace green spaces with concrete.”

Liao Pen-chuan (廖本全), an associate professor in National Taipei University’s Department of Real Estate and Built Environment, said Taipei residents have the right to stand up and ask for fresh air, sunlight and greenery, which could be provided by a park.

One high-school student said he had lived in the area for almost 18 years, but felt that the traffic was getting too bad for him to continue riding his bicycle.

“Why can’t the government allow us to keep this place as a recreational green space?” he asked.

As part of its campaign against the planned dome, the Songshan Tobacco Factory Park Union also called on Taipei residents to leave a message reading: “Give us back our green space,” on Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin’s (郝龍斌) Facebook page.

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