Thu, Jul 14, 2016 - Page 4 News List

Ko criticized over land swap proposal

‘REMARKABLE’ TASK:The Taipei mayor said that he had traded land with the National Property Administration for the benefit of cultural preservation groups

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

Civic groups that opposed the demolition of the former Nangang Bottle Cap Factory yesterday lashed out at Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) for a comment he made about a plan to swap land with the central government to build a “makerspace” on the site.

At a meeting with designers on Tuesday, Ko said that he had accomplished a “remarkable” task.

“I traded [with the National Property Administration] land where the legislature sits for land on which the [former] Nangang Bottle Cap Factory is located,” Ko said.

“I did it for cultural preservation groups,” he added.

Ko said that the property agency was vexed over its stake on the site, because the land “could not be divided or sold” and cost a lot to maintain, adding that this inspired him to swap the city-owned land where the legislature is for plots at the Nangang site.

He said that he hopes the Nangang site can be transformed into a “makerspace” to be used by artists and designers.

However, members of civic groups opposed to the demolition of the factory could not be appeased by Ko’s move.

“We feel like we have been taken advantage of,” said Lin Yi-chun (林怡君), who had campaigned against the factory’s demolition.

“A majority of historic buildings were torn down and many trees were removed in its wake,” she said.

Lin said that if Ko’s plan is pushed through, the city would acquire two plots of land from the agency, on which some historic buildings and trees still remain.

In addition, a plot of land owned by Chunghwa Telecom still has one historic building, she said.

“If Ko is really doing this for cultural groups, he should negotiate with landowners and see to it that no developments are carried out on the site,” Lin said.

Citing as an example the Taipei Dome and Songshan Cultural and Creative Park sites, she said that the city government acquired the sites from the agency by trading the plot of land on which the Taipei World Trade Center’s Third Exhibition Hall is located.

However, the city leases out land for build-operate-transfer projects, which has given rise to a range of problems, including the scandal-plagued Dome and concerns over the Taipei New Horizon Building’s integrity after furnace dregs were found in concrete used in its construction.

Songshan Tobacco Factory Tree Protection Union convener Arthur Yo (游藝) said that the city government tore down a substantial portion of buildings in the complex after making an “all-out effort” to block plans proposed by civic groups to mediate between landowners to retain the former factory’s premises.

The buildings were demolished even though activists attempted to physically block backhoes, Yo said, adding that Ko is treating cultural groups like fools with his claim that he had swapped land for them.

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