One of the architects behind a stunning proposal to turn Floriana’s main street into a garden has urged people not to use his design for political mud flinging, warning this attitude risks stifling the entire project.
Ian Camilleri Cassar spoke out after Times of Malta columnist Kristina Chetcuti wrote an opinion piece criticising the government for placing his proposal for St Anne Street “on the back burner” for the past six years.
“When Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia saw the project last year, he showed ‘great interest’. And? That’s it. He’s brilliant at showing ‘great interest’ in environmental issues and then acting with absolute disinterest,” Chetcuti wrote.
“Sadly for our environment, Farrugia is nothing but a spineless whimper of a man who plays the part of the cool green dude, posing for cool PR pics on the bus or on a bike or whatever gets him lots of ‘likes’.”
Farrugia retorted that his Ministry issued a tender last December for geotechnical investigations of St Anne Street, the first part in a process that could lead to the implementation of this project.
“We don’t need Kristina Chetcuti to give us advice on a Sunday morning, over a month late, with her typical insults,” the Minister wrote. “Her words are worth less than the paper they were printed on.”
The tender deadline expired last week and has yet to be awarded.
Following this clash, Camilleri Cassar said he “fully disassociates” himself and his team from Chetcuti’s article.
“We were never consulted and do not agree with a number of things mentioned,” he said. “This is a national project and should not be used for any political gain or mud flinging from any political party.”
Chetcuti isn’t involved in politics but her boyfriend is former PN leader Simon Busuttil, who resigned from politics last year.
“This article is one of the main reasons why projects like this end up not being undertaken in this country. We are happy to hear that studies have commenced to possibly see this project through,” Camilleri Cassar wrote.
Reacting to the architect’s statement, Chetcuti noted that her job entails writing a weekly opinion column and getting readers to engage, to agree or to disagree.
“As a columnist, I do not need to get permission or to consult anyone about what I write, except my editor,” she said.
Camilleri Cassar, along with Anna Gallo, Bernard Vella and Adam Brincat, all from DHI Perici, originally proposed converting St Anne’s Street into a garden back in 2014.
It envisions a complete pedestrianisation and beautification of the main road, with traffic to Valletta passing through an underground tunnel.
Floriana mayor Davina Sammut Hili has endorsed the project, telling Lovin Malta its “magnificent vision” fits nicely with the town’s features.
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