Sat, Jul 12, 2014 - Page 4 News List

Ocean Park expansion plan stalls over safety concerns

By Wu Po-hsuan and Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Citing concern over safety and potential damage to archeological resources, an environmental impact assessment ad hoc meeting on Thursday asked the Farglory Group to provide more information for a review of its proposal to expand the Ocean Park in Hualien County.

Covering 22 hectares, the proposed expansion would include two hotels, a gondola, a parking lot and a family activity area, Farglory Ocean Park manager Wu Fang-jung (吳方榮) said.

Representatives from the Central Geological Survey said at the meeting that since the project is just 1km from the Lingting Fault Line, it raises a range of safety concerns — including potential landslides, vulnerability to earthquakes, the stability of numerous construction bases and the damage it could do to foothills in the area.

All the aforementioned issues are in need of a more comprehensive evaluation report, the meeting concluded.

The Citizen of the Earth Foundation’s northern Taiwan office director Tsai Chung-yueh (蔡中岳) said the Farglory Hotel, which is in the vicinity of the ocean park and forms part of the complex, caused serious damage to the Dakeng (大坑) archeological site during its construction years ago.

He questioned the necessity of building two new hotels given that the existing hotel has a low, less than 50 percent occupancy rate and the inevitable damage that construction would have on historical sites.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s records show that this was the group’s second attempt at the expansion project after dropping its initial proposal in 2002 because of safety concerns over the steep slopes that underlie about 58 percent of the site.

Wu said the expansion would involve redevelopment of the slopes between Farglory hotel and the ocean park.

The revised proposal is only half the size of the original and all constructions would be made on more gradual slopes, he said.

The expansion proposal was submitted despite the controversy surrounding the group. Farglory Group chairman Chao Teng-hsiung (趙藤雄) is being detained by the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office on allegations that he bribed former Taoyuan County deputy commissioner Yeh Shi-wen (葉世文) to secure a NT$1.3 billion (US$43.3 million) contract to build the country’s largest affordable housing project in the county’s Bade City (八德).

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