The Elaeonas (olive grove in Greek) area, extending in 9,000 square kilometres and split under the administrative competence of five different Municipalities (Athens, Aghios Ioannis Renti, Aegaleo, Peristeri and Tavros), is today one of the most downgraded areas of the Greek capital city, although it is only three kilometres away from the city centre. Intentions for its rehabilitation began to be announced in 1994. A Presidential Decree issued in 1996 defined the land uses in the area and provided that a 44% percentage of the land should be allocated to green and open spaces. According to this Decree, all industrial activity should be confined in special zones, while the most aggravating units should be removed from the area.
Recently there has been a decision to establish the new home ground of the Panathinaikos Football Club in the Elaeonas area; this choice was considered to be less problematic than the previously suggested alternatives of the Elliniko and Goudi areas. The plans for the construction of a 40,000 seats ground, for the relocation of the two existing long distance bus stations from the areas of Kifisos and Liossia to the Elaeonas area, for the construction of a new subway station, and for the relocation of the Athens Stock Market from the centre of Athens to the Athinon Avenue, as well as the purchase of a large area by a well-known real estate and contractor company which is planning to consruct in Elaeonas buildings that will exceed by double the so far allowed building density coefficient, are some of the factors that, besides having already resulted into a huge rise of land value in the area, give serious reason to worry that the so much desired rehabilitation of the Votanikos area will be a vision unrealized.
Protests by local residents, small enterprises forced to move from the area, associations protecting green spaces established by law, and others, never cease, while at the same time the current situation of Elaeonas, particularly in certain places, such as the banks of the Profitis Daniel stream, remains inconceivable for modern reality (for example, the area lacks sewerage network)!
It is obvious that the current situation cannot be continued for ever. The Elaeonas area needs immediate and essential interventions. Establishing a football ground in the area with all its consequences and implications cannot be the solution to the problems of the area, particularly since this is a motion aimed primarily at economic interests, ignoring the real needs of the local inhabitants. What are needed here are reasonable planning and a political will to secure the implementation of such planning, beyond and over any economic pressures. There is still time!
The full story of the Elaeonas area may be found at the web site: www.asda.gr/elxoroi/elaiwnas.htm