One of Paceville’s last remaining naturally wild spots has been torn down after residents voiced their complaints that drug dealers were hiding their wares in the bushes.
“We received a number of complaints from residents that the garden was dilapidated, that people were throwing rubbish in the bushes that couldn’t be recovered, and that people were hiding drugs in the bushes,” St Julian’s mayor Albert Buttigieg told Lovin Malta of the garden in Dragonara Road.
The garden’s fate went viral among environmentalists this afternoon, after a young man recounted how his late grandfather had planted it himself opposite his home to partially counter the urbanisation of his hometown.
“He filled the centre-strip with cuttings from the local surroundings, and planted trees in honour of people who had died in the community,” Ed Dingli wrote.
“Now that garden, the only slightly wild patch of beauty left in Paceville, has been cleared – and replaced by a single cypress sapling, with a plaque reading ‘1920-2020 mitt sena mit-twaqqif tal-Partit Laburista. IDEAT’.”
Lamenting the garden’s fate, people accused the authorities of “ignorance”, “mindlessness” and “having an aversion to anything green”.
“No hope for this island,” someone commented.
“Unbelievable…… we really are a lost nation, basta they spend millions on those unsustainable and environmentally useless green walls,” another one said.
“What a shame, they can not see anything flourishing!! They have to destroy it!” a third person said.
However, Buttigieg, who has often criticised the over-development of his town, said it’s unfair for him to get criticised for listening to people’s complaints and trying to tackle a drug problem.
“It [wasn’t torn down] due to a lack of respect for the environment,” he said.
The mayor said the local council asked the Malta Tourism Authority to revamp the garden, which involves tearing down the plants that had grown wild and eventually replacing them with new ones.
MTA officials recovered rubbish, syringes and even a dead cat.
Landscaping discussions are ongoing, but the council is determined that the new garden provides a clear line of vision so that drug dealers can’t use it as a hiding spot.
The regeneration project also includes the addition of new benches, recycling bins and street lighting. As for the PL plaque, it’s got nothing to do with this project and formed part of a widespread Labour campaign to commemorate their hundredth anniversary.
Cover photo: Left: Workers removing the bushes; Right: Ed’s grandfather with the garden he had planted