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Greece Present Urban Renewal Plan for Mati, Following Devastating Fire of 2018

ATHENS — An urban renewal plan for Mati, the coastal town that suffered unimaginable loss of over 100 lives and destruction in a wildfire in 2018, was presented on Monday by ministers and city planners.

The proposal will bring more land under the city plan, including open recreation spaces, design open escape routes for pedestrians to the sea and reform the water front, stabilize rocky outcrops, and prevent flooding in the area from existing creeks.

"The plan we are presenting will give Mati a second chance; that's what we promised, and we are doing this much earlier than the original timeline we had set," Environment & Energy Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said, with details presented by Deputy Minister Dimitris Economou and Technical Chamber of Greece president Giorgos Stasinos among others.

Protecting the area from fires and floods, "due to the uncontrolled situation with creeks in the area" will be the main focus of the plan, Hatzidakis said.

Stasinos said such plans usually take 8-10 years to design, with their approval taking another 20, as happened with the expansion of the city of Argos. The plan is to have completed all changes and upgrades within 3-4 years once it begins, he added. He said besides the Chamber, local agencies, the National Metsovian Polytechnic, Notre Dame University, and others contributed to formulating the proposals, which could serve as a model for future urban planning projects.

Deputy Minister Economou, presenting basic points of the plan for Mati, said that an area of nearly 800 hectares (8,000 stremmas) will be organized for the first time, including 260 ha (2,600 stremmas) of these, which will be brought under the city plan for the first time. Natural protected areas total nearly 425 ha (4,250 stremmas), he said, and include forestland.

There will be a total of 141 buildings that will have to be demolished (residential, food or tourism services), and enclosure walls will have to come down at another 339 properties.

Future steps inclue the environmental repercussion study that will go on public consultation on June 25, which will also be introduced to the residents of Mati. The presidential decree approving the environment study along with other studies will then be sent for review to the Council of State before the end of August, Economou said.

Polytechnic professor and engineer specializing in traffic Efthymios Bakogiannis said that the plan also envisages reformulating the road network, ensuring the proper traffic control, and expanding the public and community nature of coastal areas, including a promenade along the coast for both pedestrians and bicycles.

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