A revolutionary plan to transform the Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) into a “grand central park area” will create a “green lung” in the city and revitalize the city’s old and dilapidated west side, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Pasuya Yao (姚文智) said yesterday.
Yao, one of five hopefuls in the DPP’s primary for the Taipei mayoral election, told a press conference that his proposal would be “an urban revolution which is able to generate an output value of up to NT$10 trillion [US$329.3 billion].”
The ambitious plan would make the airport a park connected with a number of other parks along the Keelung River, including the Taipei Expo Park, the Xinsheng (新生) Park, the Dajia (大佳) Riverside Park, the Yingfeng (迎風) Riverside Park, the Meiti (美堤) Riverside Park, the Guanshan (觀山) Riverside Park and the Rainbow Riverside Park to form a grand park of about 400 hectares, Yao said.
The proposed park, which would be larger than the 260 hectare Hyde Park in London and the 340 hectare Central Park in New York City, could change the microclimate and the urban heat island phenomenon in Taipei, he said.
More importantly, the elimination of the airport will be crucial for making the city’s west side, which has long been the least-developed and poorest district in Taipei, prosperous again, Yao said.
With construction bans and building restrictions in place in the areas adjacent to the airport, it will be difficult to develop the west side, in particular Datong District(大同), the constituency which he represents, Yao said.
If the plan materializes, Minzu E Road, Minzu W Road and Minquan E Road could become “a Fifth Avenue in Taipei,” and a social housing project of up to 10,000 apartments and government-driven urban renewal will be possible, since all restrictions will be removed, Yao said.
The idea was not his invention, Yao added, as elimination of the airport had been a campaign platform for past DPP mayoral candidates, such as Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) in 2002 and former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) in 2006.
Losing the airport will not be a concern as the Taoyuan International Airport MRT line, which connects Taipei and the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, is scheduled to start operating next year and passengers would travel to and from that airport in less than 40 minutes, he said.
Yao added that those who drive could also arrive at the airport in less than 40 minutes from Taipei via the Wugu-Yangmei Overpass (五楊高架橋).
Yao also suggested that moving the Presidential Office Building to the proposed park would be a good idea to address security issues, which were heatedly discussed after a recent incident involving a man crashing his truck into the office’s front door.