Residents in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Linkou District (林口) started a petition yesterday in protest over a plan to turn a park into the athletes’ village for the 2017 Summer Universiade, saying that the proposal would damage their quality of life as well as the local ecosystem.
The plan would build dormitories to house the athletes competing in the Games on the land where the Linkou Sports Park now sits.
Last month, Construction and Planning Agency (CPA) director-general Yeh Shih-wen (葉世文) told a legislative meeting that after the Games, the athletes’ village would be turned into welfare housing units.
The Taipei City Government, which won the right to host the Summer Universiade in December last year, said it decided to use the Linkou park after discussions with the New Taipei City Government, the Sports Affairs Council and the CPA.
However, an official from the Ministry of the Interior, which oversees the CPA, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the ministry was opposed to building the athletes’ village on the site, because “it would be difficult to turn it into welfare housing units later, since designs for the two are fundamentally different.”
Linkou residents were shocked to learn of the proposal.
“The government wants to turn the park into the athletes’ village and then welfare housing units, but they never consulted us,” said Hsu Chu-feng (許主峰), a Linkou resident and chairman of the local Love for Our Hometown Association. “This decision would not only deprive us of our leisure space, it would also destroy the local ecosystem.”
Hsu said the plan for the athletes’ village would use not only the land from the Linkou Sports Park, but also forested land that is on the other side of the road.
“First, the Taipei City Government demolished the homes of [a family surnamed] Wang (王) in Shilin [District (士林)]. Now it’s trying to getting its hands on our park,” he said. “We’re considering staging a protest outside [Taipei Mayor] Hau Lung-bin’s (郝龍斌) residence.”
Linkou Community College issued a statement opposing the plan to build “temporary” housing units for the athletes and urged the government to maintain the integrity of Linkou’s ecosystem.
The community college and Hsu’s association initiated the petition on whether the park should be turned into the athletes’ village.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇), whose electoral district includes Linkou, also objected to the plan.
“The park is a ‘lung’ for Linkou residents,” he said. “Would Taipei City residents agree to it if the city government planned to turn Da-an Forest Park into an athletes’ village?”
Responding to the criticism, CPA deputy director-general Hsu Wen-lung (許文龍) said the land had already been designated for a welfare housing project and the sports park was only a temporary facility.
“We never planned to [officially] turn the site into a permanent park,” he said.