Yerevan park trees felled as part of agreement with former gov’t, mayor’s office unable to prevent damage
For several days in Yerevan, activists have been opposing construction work in one of the parks in the very center of the capital – on Mashtots Avenue.
Social media are discussing how the new, “post-revolutionary” authorities of the country can allow the cutting of trees for another business to open.
It has gotten to the point that the mayor of Yerevan was forced to clarify the situation at a press conference. Mayor Hayk Marutyan claims that his predecessor leased part of the park until 2040, and sold another part of it. Now, nobody has the right now to prohibit the tenant and the owner from any activity on this territory.
All the details: how the current mayor is trying to deal with the situation and why the chief architect of the capital is leaving.
Attractive territory for business
Misak Manushyan square is popularly known as “Mashtots Park”.
This is not the first time that passions around this “green island” are heating up. Back in 2012, activists had to launch a serious campaign to protect the park from development. For 40 days, the protesters demanded the previous government dismantle the kiosks located in the park.
At that time, in the ranks of the activists there were many opposition members who now occupy high positions in the current government. Among them was the current mayor Hayk Marutyan.
The story of cutting down the trees in the same park was repeated in 2016. Then, in response to a written request from JAMnews, the mayor’s office explained that “it is carrying out the reconstruction and improvement of the boulevard.” Moreover, the mayor’s office promised “green areas will be expanded and new types of trees planted.”
Now, again, the reason for public indignation has become photos of trees cut down in the same park taken by activists and posted on social media.
During a press conference, the mayor of Yerevan explained that his predecessor, former mayor Taron Margaryan, had leased part of the park’s territory to one entrepreneur until December 2040.
“I personally overturned part of the [former] mayor’s decision, reducing the lease area from 1,048 square meters to 294 square meters. Moreover, we annulled the decision on the ownership of 386 sq. meters. However, in part of the park, provided on a lease basis, he has the right to engage in construction. In this case, the law is on the side of the tenant,” Hayk Marutyan said.
Marutyan says he himself negotiated with the owner of the territory and set a condition: a new cafe should be built here from light structures so as not to cause much damage to trees and bushes. And instead of those trees that still have to be cut down, others should be planted.
Chief architect will resign
During a press conference, the mayor confirmed rumors that the chief architect of the city, Artur Meschyan, would step down from his post:
“Mr. Meschyan, whom we all respect immensely, said at his first press conferences that he would work with us for two years. This term is coming to an end soon. So, Mr. Meschyan will write a letter of resignation of his own free will, as he promised, and will take care of his personal affairs.”
At the same time, Hayk Marutyan did not specify whether there are other grounds for the resignation of the chief architect.
Artur Meschyan was appointed Chief Architect of Yerevan in October 2018.
Prior to this appointment, Artur Meschyan was known in Armenia as a musician rather than an architect.
The composer, the author of many favorite songs, is also known as a great patriot, a person with an active civil position. Therefore, with his appointment, many Yerevan residents pinned serious hopes on changing the appearance of the capital for the better.