La Spezia: excess of power is the Superintendent's opinion, or disregard for citizens?

The Liguria Regional Administrative Court ruled in favor of the City of La Spezia, and the felling of the octogenarian pines in Verdi Square began this morning. What is the real excess of power?

Before we begin, a necessary preamble: we at Windows on Art, respect the decisions of justice, even when these are quite questionable. However, we do not want to go into legal issues: we will try to talk about the affair of Piazza Verdi, La Spezia, from another perspective, that of culture, sensitivity to the past, and above all respect for citizens.

On Monday the Regional Administrative Court of Liguria ruled on the matter, rejecting the environmentalists ’ appeal and approving instead the City Council’s project, which we had also talked about in Windows on Art, siding with the environmentalists (and, probably, with most of the citizens of La Spezia: at this link the full article, with comments). To sum up, the City Council would like to distort a historic La Spezia square with an unnecessary and costly project that involves the felling of historic pine trees, planted in the 1930s. A project that does not take into account the historical memory of a city at all (from the images below you can see the square in a vintage photo, the square as it was before this morning, and the Vannetti-Buren project approved by the City Council).

Piazza Verdi alla Spezia in una foto d'epoca Piazza Verdi alla Spezia come è al giorno d'oggi Piazza Verdi alla Spezia secondo il progetto Vannetti-Buren

The ruling(full text here), in summary, branded as an excess of power the Superintendence ’s measure that, after initially authorizing the municipality, blocked the work to better verify the cultural interest of the square. Basically, according to the Liguria Regional Administrative Court, the Superintendency could not issue an authorization and then block it later. However, despite this, opponents of the project could appeal to the Council of State. This is what has been expressed by lawyer Rino Tortorelli, who represents Italia Nostra, one of the associations that have come out against the Vannetti-Buren project.

Despite the great clamor of the past months, the news of the Tar’s ruling has passed in silence, very few have spoken about it, on social networks it has been almost silenced: in practice, of a case that a few months ago had taken on national importance, with the intervention of Minister Bray (moreover judged by the Tar’s ruling as a “usurpation of administrative functions”) and of well-known personalities of culture, these days it has been spoken of only in La Spezia.

But the point is another: without waiting a second longer, the work of felling the pines began this morning. A blitz, as The Nation called it. A really contemptuous blitz, which almost seems to have been done on purpose to slap the citizens who have opposed and protested all these months, as if they had been a nuisance to the continuation of the work. A gesture of arrogance and an act of force, as environmental law expert Marco Grondacci declares in the pages of Secolo XIX. And, moreover, Grondacci continues, the decision to cut down the pines without waiting for the petition to the Council of State, could amount to a fiscal damage in case the Council of State should agree with those who do not want the Vannetti-Buren project.

Beyond the legal aspect of the matter, there is a very serious issue. Namely, the fact that the citizens of La Spezia were faced with a municipal administration that was reluctant to dialogue, with a municipal administration that continued undaunted on the path of a project about whose usefulness (and cost) there would be much to discuss (or rather: these are sides of the affair that have long been discussed, and almost always with the needle of the scales being on the side of the citizens). Faced with something like this, faced with an administration that should represent citizens, or at least listen to what they have to say (but does not), one wonders what the real excess of power is. And whether, at a higher level, namely that of culture and respect, the worst excess of power is notcompletely disregarding the will of a citizenry, whose interests administrators are supposed to be looking out for. But, unfortunately, all too often this is not the case. And that is why in La Spezia we now find ourselves without the octogenarian pines in Verdi Square. We, for our part, will always continue to support the cause of the citizens of La Spezia against the project.

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