Capodimonte closure, all against Bellenger: closed for gatherings? An excuse

All against Sylvain Bellenger over the closure of the Capodimonte Woods: the clash around the Neapolitan park flares up.

Neapolitans did not like the closure of the Bosco di Capodimonte, which after just five days of reopening is once again inaccessible. The official reasons are twofold: “too many infractions” (according to a note sent by the management, too many visitors gathered in the now infamous “assemblages”) and the failure to reach an agreement with social partners for private security. This would be what led the director of Capodimonte, Sylvain Bellenger, to close the park, the largest in the city.

Not everyone, however, is of the same opinion. Comments on social media show that, in fact, the visitors to the Bosco di Capodimonte have been for the vast majority obedient to the rules, wearing masks (which in Campania are compulsory even outdoors), maintaining the necessary physical distances, and avoiding creating groups. So much so that, yesterday, a protest flash mob was organized in front of the gates of the Bosco by the association Zero81 - Laboratorio di mutuo soccorso, according to which Bellenger “decided to close the Capodimonte park as well, using as an excuse the disrespectful behavior that some citizens allegedly had.” The director’s role, the association explained, “is to ensure that the public park is usable to the city, we cannot be hostage to a few clueless people. Naples has shown great proof of responsibility, so much so that the contagion curve has always been under control and has always continued to go down these days.”

Also making himself heard was the mayor of the Campania capital, Luigi De Magistris, who said that “the closure of the Capodimonte Woods is a very serious act. A park of 120 hectares, with huge spaces, the largest in Italy. The lack of courage is corroding the country. The closure of the park goes against health protection regulations that call for an increase in public spaces where people can move around.” The first citizen then asked Bellenger to “immediately reopen the Capodimonte forest in order not to cause health damage to the inhabitants of Naples.”

Even harsher was city councilwoman Laura Bismuto, who accused the Capodimonte management of incapacity: “The closure of the Capodimonte Woods is unacceptable. Thousands of people this morning are asking the reason for this decision. Why are people counters not used at the gates? Why isn’t a reservation-based entrance studied? But do we really think you can manage a public space like this, opening and closing it at will? Are we at anarchy? Government and region say open spaces. There is constant talk of caring for children and youth. Life restarts in all its activities, international flights will also resume soon, and then you close the largest green space in the city? Just like that, just because of inability to manage flows? I really remain baffled.”

It seems, however, that the real problem is not the discipline of visitors to the Forest. That’s what it seems from reading the joint note from the unions Civil Service Cgil, Cisl Civil Service, Uilpa, Confintesa, Confal-Unsa, Flp and Usb: the closure is said to be due to the fact that Bellenger wanted to make use of private vigilantes, but found opposition from the unions, who said it needed to be checked whether it was possible to reopen with ministerial staff. The unions, in a note, write that there was an “agreement signed i last May 15 in which the security measures to be taken were established and noted the available ministerial human resources would allow the opening on weekends and the possibility of verifying the effectiveness of the measures planned to supplement them when necessary. The administration has unilaterally established the closure of the Park without evaluating the countless proposals of the unions and RSU made at the subsequent meeting on the 22nd. We regret, the administration is deaf to calls for reflection, the citizens of Naples do not deserve to be deprived of their treasures.”

Bellenger, however, doesn’t stand for it, and in an interview yesterday with La Repubblica he went so far as to call the closure of the Bosco “an act of courage,” as it would be the most difficult decision of his leadership. And he provided his versisone, saying he accepted the first proposal of the unions: inside only janitors and at the doors private vigilantes. After that, the director said, “ we realized that it was not working: the majority of the public obeys the rules, a minority does so if called upon, and then there are those who think the coronavirus does not exist and do not want limitations. Faced with this reality, we assessed we needed more control inside and proposed the plan with 30 people, including private security. The union said no to that, and instead assumed limiting access and doing thermoscanner checks at the doors, letting in small groups from time to time.” A solution, however, deemed unsuitable because it would have created “assemblages at the doors” and would not have solved the problem of control inside the Bosco. And to the Cisl Fp’s accusations that Bellenger had put in place an “underhand attempt to privatize supervision,” the director replied that the problem of lack of personnel has existed for at least fifteen or twenty years and that it is not possible to wait for competitions: “I don’t side with the private sector, I have to keep the site open to the public,” he said.

So when will there be a reopening of the park? Bellenger said the doors will be wide open again this week. And he gave his word.

Pictured: the National Museum of Capodimonte. Ph. Credit Alessio Cuccaro

Capodimonte closure, all against Bellenger: closed for gatherings? An excuse
Capodimonte closure, all against Bellenger: closed for gatherings? An excuse

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