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Development at Bodrum's Kisebükü Cove divides locals

BODRUM - Doğan News Agency | 5/19/2010 12:00:00 AM | YAŞAR ANTER

Locals and environmentalists are divided over plans to construct a tourism facility in Kisebükü Cove in the popular Aegean resort town of Bodrum.

Locals and environmentalists are divided over plans to construct a tourism facility in Kisebükü Cove in the popular resort town of Bodrum.

While environmentalists and some nongovernmental organizations oppose the construction, villagers in the area believe that they will benefit form the facility.

A meeting was held last week in the Mazı village in Gökova to inform locals on the Environmental Impact Assessment, or EIA, report. Aslı Korkmaz, an urban planner working at the Muğla Governor’s Office, said the meeting was held to inform people on the changes on the preservation situation and note people’s opposition and suggestions.

A construction firm announced last June that it had received the necessary permission to build a 1,400-bed hotel in Kisebükü, which is located on the Bodrum peninsula and serves as an opening point to Gökova Bay. Led by Bodrum Municipality and Bodrum Chamber of Commerce, 29 organizations launched a campaign against the decision and collected over 100,000 signatures.

A lawsuit requesting the construction permission be annulled was filed with the Bodrum Prosecutor’s Office after the announcement.

Speaking at the meeting, Gündüz Nalbantoğlu, president of the Bodrum Chamber of Shipping, argued that 116 of a total of 210 coves in the Aegean and Mediterranean had been lost to the construction of tourism facilities in the last decade.

“Kisebükü Cove, with its natural and historical beauty, is the point where the Blue Voyage starts and finishes,” said Nalbantoğlu. “There were plans to build a 500-bed facility here five years ago. We opposed it, filed a lawsuit and the Council of State annulled the permission.”

Nalbantoğlu said the facility to be built will close the cove to the beach and to all kinds of tourism.

But the villagers believe that the facility, which they hope will contribute to the local economy, should be built.

“I’m ashamed to see people opposing this project,” Ahmet Ligoğlu, a spokesman for the villagers, said at the EIA report meeting. “Those who oppose this project, which will increase the wealth and culture of the villagers as well as create new jobs, do not care about the future of the villagers. We have carefully examined the project and we believe that it will be very useful.”

Rüştü Tezcan, chairman of the Peninsula Watch Commission, an NGO, said the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archeology has prepared a report that says Kisebükü Cove is a natural and archeological protection zone and no construction should be allowed in the area.

However, Mahmut Yıldırım, chairman of the Chamber of Architects’ Bodrum branch, believes that the efforts have come too late.

“This project was prepared in the early 2000s, got the green light, and now we can discuss only the small details,” said Yıldırım. “What did the Bodrum Chamber of Shipping and the Chamber of Architects do at the beginning of the process? It is too late to stop the construction.”

Ahmet Çolkaoğlu, president of the board of directors of the construction firm, said no harm will be done to the environment and only eight olive trees will be relocated.

“The facility will be open all year round and the rooms will be sold for $1,000 to $20,000 a night,” said Çolkaoğlu. “We will have 325 employees at the facility and half of them will be from the villages in the region. Besides, the handcrafts and the organic products of the region will be offered to the visitors of the facility.”

Çolakoğlu said the buildings would not be visible from the sea, the area’s flora would be preserved and the cove would not be closed to Blue Voyage boats.

“When we finish the project, which we hope to do in 18 months once the necessary permission is [given], Gökova will be a destination for very wealthy tourists,” he said. We aim to increase the standards of tourism both in Bodrum and in Turkey.”

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