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Cihangir Park´s only current visitors are dogs, cats and homeless people
1.       Roswitha
4132 posts
 31 Jul 2008 Thu 01:36 am

Cihangir Park, waiting for demolition
An urban park in historic Cihangir district, a short walk from İstiklal Street in Taksim, is being neglected because it is scheduled for demolition. The residents, unhappy with the badly-kept situation of their old, small park, demand either renovations or the immediate rebuilding of a new park. Officials from the company that operates the parking lot underneath Cihangir Park claim that they will begin rebuilding a greener park with a deeper parking lot next month

Cihangir residents are worried about their park´s condition, complaining that the park and its trees have been neglected for over three months. In fact, Cihangir´s famous small park hardly resembles a park at all anymore: The trees are dying, the walls are unsafe and the ground is unclean. There is writing on the walls where children are supposed to spend time, most of it profane. The playground equipment is already broken.

Because the park will soon be demolished and replaced with a greener park with an underground parking lot, Cihangir Park´s only current visitors are dogs, cats and homeless people. The Istanbul Parking Management Trace Inc., or İSPARK, a parks service that was established in 2005 by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, operates the underground parking lot and has initiated the project to replace the park.

“Cihangir Park should be kept in a green and good condition until the day it is demolished,” said the head of the Cihangir Neighborhood Association, Selçuk Erdoğmuş. He complained about officials´ approach to the park´s condition, saying, “They have the idea that the park will soon be demolished so why should we care for saving its green area.” Although this approach may sound reasonable, the residents still want to see their small, old park kept in a better condition.

“Rebuild it or look after it,” said Oğuz Çelebi, a small market owner in Cihangir, summarizing the majority point of view.

The general manager of İSPARK, Kadir Gurbetçi, said the demolition would start at the end of next month, but that the park´s care is the duty of the Beyoğlu Municipality. However, some officials from the municipality who came to water the trees as the Turkish Daily News was visiting the park said the municipality could not water it due to the water shortage in Istanbul.


The restoration project was supposed to start in June and has been delayed, triggering rumors in the district. The rumor that a mall might replace the park has made everyone in the district nervous. “This is a quiet district; we don´t want any malls here,” said Hacı Kozat, the owner of a small market close to the park. He said market owners like him would be hurt if a mall was built in the area.

ISPARK officials refuted the rumors and claimed that the project does not include a mall. “We will rebuild the park and it will be greener than before,” said Gurbetçi, general manager of İSPARK. “I don´t know how people think that we can build a mall in Cihangir. It is only a rumor,” said Gurbetçi, adding that they plan to apply to the European Parking Association, or EPA, with their project for Cihangir Park.

“Cihangir needs two things, parking and green areas, and we plan to respond to both of them by increasing the car park capacity from 200 to 323 and building a greener park for children,” said Gurbetçi.

The association is in touch with İSPARK and has been informed about the details of the project. There is one thing the association and İSPARK have not agreed on yet: the usage of the free area that will be built underneath the park. “We want it to be used as an earthquake center and studios for the children, but they want to make it a fitness center,” said Erdoğmuş, adding that Cihangir does not need a fitness center. Gurbetçi said İSPARK is open to cooperation with the association on the usage of the 600-square-meter free area.

Dogs vs. cats

There is a cat shelter under Cihangir Park at the moment and its future is not very certain. İSPARK officials have not confirmed whether or not they will keep it as part of the project. Nermin Candan, a resident who takes care of cats voluntarily, worries about their situation. She is nervous about people who allow their dogs to defecate on the playground and green areas in the park. Cat lovers and dog owners are not the only visitors; there are homeless people too who especially come at night. “The park´s gate used to be closed at nights but now it is open last few months and sometimes even people use this place as a toilet,” said Candan.


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