Locals of Istanbul neighborhood take action against parking lot project
The green area in Moda was turned into a vegetable garden last April, following the initiative of Caferağa Solidarity. Neighborhood local have now taken action to preserve it. Twitter photosLocals of the Moda neighborhood on Istanbul’s Anatolian side have taken action against the metropolitan municipality’s plans to build a parking lot on a vegetable garden, which was also designated as a gathering place in case of a natural disaster.
Dozens of people have begun occupying the location, setting up tents and camping in turns at the Gezi garden to prevent any attempt to send bulldozers to the area. Together with an online petition campaign, the local activists are also preparing to open a lawsuit to preserve the small patch of green in the neighborhood, one of the district of Kadıköy’s most favored spots.
The action was triggered by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s decision to give a construction permit to a private investor to building a parking lot at the vegetable garden on July 22. Officials said the property, belonging to Istanbul’s General Directorate of Foundations, has been rented to a private investor and all the necessary permits to build an open parking lot on a portion of 600-squaremeters were subsequently acquired, accordingly with the legal procedures.
Construction vehicles were eventually sent on July 31, but could not start working due to the locals’ reaction.
The municipality of Kadıköy, meanwhile, has expressed support for the locals following the outcry that the project generated. “The individual who rented the area has acquired the necessary permits from us. But after seeing the locals’ sensitivity regarding the garden, we have written a petition to the Metropolitan Municipality to immediately cancel the license,” said Kadıköy Mayor Aykurt Nuhoğlu, who is from the ranks of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP)
Since then, locals have been watching out for bulldozers while organizing movie screenings, collective eateries and forums at the garden.
According to news website Bianet, activists have collected the necessary funds to pursue several lawsuits to stop the construction, voicing their outcry against the municipality for allowing such construction in a place that is officially designated as the gathering area in line with the Istanbul urgent action plan, drafted following the earthquake in 1999.
It was eventually turned into a vegetable garden last April, following the initiative of Caferağa Solidarity, a group formed in the wake of last years’ Gezi protests. The first seeds were planted in May and the first fruits were collected three weeks ago with the organization of a harvest festivity. During the second day of the vigil, activists symbolically planted cherry trees, which they had recently acquired. The area is also the gathering place of another species – Moda’s omnipresent cats.
Bülent Uyguner from Caferağa Solidarity, says the Kadıköy Municpality should rent the area from the General Directorate of Foundations. For his part, Nihat Özyılmaz says the person who rented the gardens told them they would return with the police. “No one has come up until now. We are waiting,” he told Bianet with a smile.