Sunday 23.06.2024 ΚΕΡΚΥΡΑ

Municipality seeking solutions to chaotic parking in Kanoni

Kanoni
17 May 2024 / 14:38

CORFU. Yesterday, the mayor and municipal services conducted an on-site inspection of plots of land for decongestion of traffic in the area, focussing on Mon Repos.

Access to one of the island's most famous landmarks, located a stone's throw from the town—the cosmopolitan Kanoni—has become seriously problematic for residents and visitors due to the increased number of visits to its four iconic landmarks: Mon Repos, the monasteries of Kassopitra and Vlacherna, and Kanoni. Initially, Central Corfu Municipality is considering solutions to the congestion caused by tourist buses at the entrance of the Mon Repos estate by inspecting neighbouring plots of land that could be utilised as free parking spaces for residents and professional drivers.

The first problems appeared this year in March with the arrival of school trips, which, however, culminated during the Easter period with the 'chaos' that prevailed outside Mon Repos due to the increased presence of tourist buses, indicating what is to come as the tourist season progresses.

Problems, of course, also existed in other parts of the area, with drivers being immobilised in their cars for extended periods due to traffic congestion at the Kanoni junction, at the end of urban bus line No. 2, caused by the chaotic parking of private vehicles around it. As a result, both urban and tourist buses could not manoeuvre to make the required turns. Everyone agrees that traffic needs to be organised in the area due to the four points of interest that generate increased numbers of visitors.

Spaces available

The Municipality is exploring potential areas that could alleviate the serious traffic problems at Mon Repos, recognising that the biggest traffic problem to and from Kanoni is created in front of this particular landmark. Yesterday morning, Mayor Stefanos Poulimenos, along with Deputy Mayor of Urban and Spatial Planning and Environment Thomas Vlassis and the relevant service, conducted an on-site inspection of two plots to assess their suitability in terms of accessibility, capacity, and manoeuverability for tourist buses, with the aim of developing them into free spaces.

One plot is directly opposite the entrance of Mon Repos and is already used for parking by local residents. However, the municipality needs to obtain approval from the Ministry of Culture, as the use of this plot has been granted by the Public Real Estate Company. This plot had been considered by the previous municipal administration for the same purpose, but due to the change in administration after the elections, they did not manage to complete their planning.

The other plot is owned by the municipality and is located just before the Kalavrentzou Villa. It is the Vassilaki estate, covering 30 stremmas, of which the municipality plans to develop 3-5 stremmas. The municipality's legal services and urban planning department are carefully investigating the possibility of even designating this specific section of the estate as a parking area.

"For the first plot, for which we are requesting the use permit from the Ministry of Culture, coordination with the Archaeological Service is required," Mr. Poulimenos told Enimerosi. "Both of these plots will be suitably developed as open spaces for buses and residents' vehicles. However, we also need to find the necessary resources. The initial work will be done with our own means, but additional work to properly pave the areas with asphalt requires funding. These improvements will be made when the municipality acquires the financial capacity."

Huge parking problem

However, there are also needs within the inner area of Kanoni to address parking issues, as scenes are witnessed daily of buses and private vehicles parking chaotically due to lack of spaces.

The paradox, however, is that although the implementation of the urban planning for the Kanoni area has been completed and registered with the Land Registry, it did not include provisions for parking spaces. "When the urban planning was done many years ago, no parking spaces were foreseen for Kanoni, because at that time it was considered that they were not necessary," Thomas Vlassis, Deputy Mayor of Urban and Spatial Planning and Environment, told Enimerosi.

Moreover, the infrastructure planned for improving the quality of life for the 4,000-5,000 residents, such as roads, pavements, playgrounds, sports centres, cultural centres, and a high school, have not been implemented to date, despite the obligation of property owners to contribute land or money. The exception is Thucydides Street, the only internal road connecting the upper and lower parts of the area, and the municipal kindergarten on that street.

According to Mr. Vlassis, the Municipality is considering utilising various spaces designated in the urban planning but have remained undeveloped, to be converted into open spaces.

"During the inspection, we also examined two plots intended for sports centres," he stated. "The smaller one is near the primary school on Thucydides Street. The other one, which is eight stremmas, is 300 metres before that. This second plot, intended for a sports centre, also included parking as an auxiliary space. At the same time, we are looking to proceed immediately with road widenings to provide access to these plots."

Traffic police

Nevertheless, the Municipality's Technical Services have already opened a channel of communication with the Traffic Police regarding the issue of finding parking spaces in the area. However, the Traffic Police point out that their jurisdiction only covers the implementation of temporary measures to alleviate congestion on certain roads, not long-term planning, which is the responsibility of the Municipality.

Bus company's view

Corfu Urban KTEL, which operates line No. 2 connecting the area with the town, has been experiencing the severe traffic issue in Kanoni daily, especially since the start of the tourist season. According to the organisation's President, Alexandros Pagalis, a comprehensive approach and multiple interventions are needed to address the serious overall problem in Corfu, rather than isolated solutions. This is due to the continuous increase in vehicles and the lack of infrastructure in roads and parking spaces.

 

Specifically for Kanoni and the problem at the turn at the end of the bus line No. 2 route, due to chaotic parking, which makes it difficult for buses to manoeuvre and turn, he proposes the installation of artificial barriers (bollards) to prevent drivers from parking there. At the same time, he points out that the parking spaces for tourist buses should be distinct and clearly marked, which is not currently the case.

MARIA BAZDRIYIANNI

Photos: Enimerosi