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City news, 19.10.2009 15:29

Governor Backs Down Over Park Construction

Governor Backs Down Over Park Construction St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko said on Thursday that plans for the construction of a controversial 10-story residential building on the site of a public park by 40 Komendantsky Prospekt will be scrapped.

The city government’s decree giving Severny Gorod construction company permission to construct the building will be revoked, Matviyenko said at a press conference.

Matviyenko said that talks on the matter had already been held with Severny Gorod, and that the construction company did not intend to appeal the decision in court, reported.

Residents of 40 Komendantsky Prospekt and the surrounding area, who have been campaigning against the construction since early October, welcomed the governor’s decision.

“We see this as a rational step on the part of the person in charge of the city,” Yelena Gavrilova, a local resident who was among the park’s defenders, told the St. Petersburg Times.

“I think that our case has shown that it’s possible to stand up for one’s honor. People now feel really optimistic about this!” Gavrilova said.

On hearing news of the governor’s decision, local residents organized a spontaneous celebration, decorating the park’s trees with colored ribbons.

Severny Gorod announced on Thursday that it had agreed to cancel the project because it “cares for its reputation and the trust that clients place in it.”

“That trust is worth more than the economic profit that the company could get from realizing the project,” Eduard Tiktinsky, president of Severny Gorod, said in a statement on Thursday.

“We understand the governor’s decision on the issue. We won’t be continuing the construction of the residential building – not because we’ve been scared by the protests by the area’s residents, and not because we’ve been scared by the public relations attacks that the company has suffered during all this,” Tiktinsky said.

“We just don’t want to build something under the conditions that we have at that address, in the face of active opposition from the residents, who went as far as to storm the site. We support the governor’s decision because the profession of construction is one that calls for creation,” he said.

The residents’ fight for the park began on Oct. 1, when Severny Gorod workers built a construction fence around the park and began to cut down the trees and bushes that local residents had planted a few years ago. Hundreds of residents then built a tent on the park’s territory and organized a round-the-clock vigil to prevent construction of the building.

Residents argued that Severny Gorod’s actions were illegal, as the park had been placed on a list of the city’s protected areas in 2007. They also maintained that the site was too cramped for another residential building.

Support came from the local mass media and representatives of A Just Russia and Communist parties, as well as deputies at the city’s Legislative Assembly. The city’s prosecution service also began a review of the case.

Severny Gorod argued that it had the right to carry out construction on the site on the basis of permits issued by the city government in 2004, prior to its inclusion on the list of protected green territories.

News source: The St. Petersburg Times

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