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‘Leave Our School Alone’: Marsaxlokk Residents Up In Arms Against Proposed Civic Centre Set To Replace Student’s Garden

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Marsaxlokk residents are currently up in arms over the proposed development of a new Civic Centre set to replace a part of St. Thomas More Primary School’s garden.

The plans have angered nearby residents as well as the families of schoolchildren, with residents already putting up banners protesting against it as questions are raised over the future of the school.

“Shame on the person that came out with this idea and those who agree with it,” one resident said in their objections. 

A portion of the garden in question

A portion of the garden in question

The proposed development includes shifting of existing mature trees to make space for a community centre, offices to be used by the Local Council, a public library, and a public hall, as well as take-up of a large portion of the school’s garden. 

“A garden? In a school… priceless. We absolutely do not need this,” said another one.

Complaints are being brought forward as residents and environmentalists alike are concerned about the already lack of green spaces in Marsaxlokk, and how this development will keep contributing to that lack.

Many objecting are also concerned with the consequences this will have on the children attending the school, as they are set to be robbed of their garden grounds.

“Let us leave our children some green areas, trees and let them learn and be educated in an environment which is healthy and surrounded by some nature. Please do not take this away from our children,” one representation read.

“Our kids need to be learning in a healthy ambience, do not take this away from them when there are other options,” another read.

However, residents are making it clear that they are not against the development itself, but rather on the locations that have been suggested for it, as they offered other suggestions to the Council. 

“We are not against the project, we actually think we deserve it. But don’t touch the school, it’s close to every resident’s heart,” one said.

The local council of Marsaxlokk provided residents with three different possible locations for this development, labelled as Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C.

All three of the locations proposed include mature trees within them, and would all be leading to the destruction of a significant portion of the school’s garden.

The applicant is the mayor of Marsaxlokk himself, Steven Grech, but it appears that the entire local council itself is not content with the location of the development.

One of the councillors from the Marsaxlokk council itself, Daniel Zerafa, put up a Facebook post over the last few days in the Marsaxlokk residents group, explaining the rationale behind the project and why he is in favour.

“I am not ashamed, and I believe in the vision and the decision taken for the betterment of the town, and the generations to come,” he said in the concluding comments of his post.

Lovin Malta spoke with Janice Chetcuti, a PN councillor at the Marsaxlokk local council, who has publicly taken a stance against the development.

“I was against the location of this civic centre from the very beginning,” she said, offering suggestions of better places that could be used for such a project, mentioning abandoned places next to the Roman Port, or Torri Vendome.

“The safeguarding of the environment is one of my own personal responsibilities as a councillor, and it’s beyond me why a school’s garden should be taken up by a civic centre,” she said.

“It actually should have been our (the LC) duty to be vocal against any take-up of green spaces, and not the council’s initiative itself!” she remarked. 

She also appealed that Marsaxlokk residents and students deserve better than this, and they deserve a council that works in the interest of the common good.

The representations period for this proposed development is open until 3rd January 2022, with more than 50 representations already made within days.

Do you agree with the residents? 

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When Sasha (formerly known as Sasha Tas-Sigar) is not busy writing about environmental injustice, she's probably fighting for women's rights. Follow her at @saaxhaa on Instagram, and send her anything related to the environment, art, and women's rights at [email protected]

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