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Society

New Omonia Open, Athens Now Will Fix Sidewalks, Better Access

ATHENS – After working with private benefactors to bring back a fountain to the formerly dreary Omonia Square near City Hall, Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis’ next project is a 24-million-euro ($26.24 million) scheme to make the city pedestrian-friendly.

According to City Hall’s statement, the project aims to fix and maintain 200,000 square meters of sidewalks over the next three years, using so-called “cool materials” which reflect solar radiation and lower temperatures.

Wheelchair ramps that are frequently blocked by vehicles or have fallen into disrepair will be maintained and new ones added to improve accessibility for the disabled in Athens, which is far behind other European Union cities.

“Because people with mobility problems have the same rights of unhindered access as everyone,” he said.

Since taking office last year Bakoyannis has put in place a series of plans to beautify and improve a capital city overrun with graffiti, a lack of public art, filthy public spaces, crime-ridden areas and grimy structures, with many classical buildings now decrepit.

One of the goals is to modernize the anarchist haven of Exarchia, one of the city’s funkier urban areas, as police have been emptying squats of unlawful residents and going after criminals, apart from gangs smashing car windows and looting what’s inside them.

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