Waterside residences set to be reconstructed threaten 'green'

According to information from municipal authorities, following the completion of the current dig, there are to be five yalıs and one police station reconstructed in Paşa Limanı Park.

Waterside residences set to be reconstructed threaten 'green'

World Bulletin / News Desk

An excavation being overseen by the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality at Üsküdar's Paşa Limanı Park has unearthed the foundations of the historic Serasker Hüseyin Avni Paşa yalısı and the Arapzade yalısı (waterside residence). The dig, being managed by the municipality's Historic Environment Protection Directorate, has elicited negative reaction from local residents, as it is occurring in one of the only green spaces left along the Üsküdar coastline.

According to information from municipal authorities, following the completion of the current dig, there are to be five yalıs and one police station reconstructed in Paşa Limanı Park. City and Art Historian Süleyman Faruk asserts that the excavation, contrary to what is being said, is not being done for historic purposes but rather for profit.

Academic and author Ahmet Turan Alkan, who is also a columnist for the Zaman daily, has voiced his own concerns, noting that he is opposed to the digs on the basis that they are destroying an important green space used by the people of the city. While underscoring that the reconstruction of these yalıs will mean retaining a piece of history, Alkan also says he is worried about the structures turning into a means for profit. In the meantime, the digs continue, backed by the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality.

While traces of the foundations of the historic Serasker Hüseyin Avni Paşa and Arapzade yalıs having been discovered in Paşa Limanı Park, there have also been traces of three other historic yalıs found in the same district. According to municipal authorities, if permission is granted by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism's İstanbul No. 6 Protection District Council Directorate, five yalıs and the Kuzguncuk Police Station will be reconstructed where the excavation is now taking place.

In the meantime, there is a noticeable silence from authorities as to questions regarding what these yalıs will be used for in the future, while local area residents and merchants alike share worries over the loss of this valuable city green space. Local families assert that the park simply cannot be destroyed, as the children of the district have nowhere else to play and also because Paşa Limanı has long been a favorite spot for rest and relaxation along the Bosporus for local families.

In the meantime, area merchants are also worried about the effect the reconstruction will have on business, saying foot traffic in the area is high because of the green space. They note that even if successful public cultural or recreational spaces are housed in these yalıs, their businesses will still be affected negatively. As for the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality, it responds that the current excavation and planned reconstruction will only take up a quarter of the green space, and that at the end, these green spaces will be returned to citizens for use.

Zaman's Alkan, who spoke to Sunday's Zaman, stated: “My stance is this: The municipality is doing important things for all of İstanbul. For example, the work at Zeyrek was done by the same team. They are bringing historic structures back to life, even though they were previously destroyed. So the general framework of this business is right and good. However, when it comes to the project in Üsküdar, I am opposed to it because it involves a public green space and will prevent people from getting close to the shoreline. Otherwise, of course it pleases me to see the shorelines of the Bosporus filled with historic yalıs. … With the former park status from this area gone, the same people who used to be able to use the park without paying anything will now have to put their hands into their pockets to find money to use the yalıs that have been rented out to various enterprises.”

The dean of Marmara University's Faculty of Political Science, Dr. Recep Bozlağan, spoke to Sunday's Zaman about his views on the developments, which he said were from the very first day positive. “Those historic structures are not going to be turned over to anyone; they will be turned into social facilities open to the people of the city, into cultural centers. People will be able to watch the water from the yalıs' gardens or drink a beverage or something eat there. In the end, those structures will certainly not serve as homes for anyone working in the municipality; history will be revived here.”

City and art historian Süleyman Faruk Göncüoğlu said: “What is going on is an attempt to take this space, where we and our families can catch a breath and play in safety while communing with nature, from our hands. This is being done by removing the public status of this space in order to go ahead with the construction of the Serasker Hüseyin Avni Paşa Yalısı. They say it's for the good of the people. Alright, but if the reconstruction of these historic yalı, of which traces of a foundation were found only through radiological scanning, is for the good of the people, then what about the park, which people can use without paying anything?”

As the excavation continues on in Paşa Limanı Park, and with the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality in possession now of historic documents and information on the Serasker Hüseyin Avni Paşa yalısı and the Arapzade yalısı, as well as the Duhani Arif Ağa yalısı, the Kerim Paşa yalısı, the Defterdar Ethem Paşa yalısı and the Kuzguncuk Police Station, an application was submitted to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism's İstanbul No. 6 Protection District Council Directorate for the registration of these projects. A decision dated June 18, 2009, from the directorate notes, “Archeological digs under the supervision of museum authorities and other related institutions can take place to determine whether or not these structures were or were not located here, and decisions can be made in light of discoveries from the excavation work.”

The İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality decided to give precedence to the Serasker Hüseyin Avni Paşa and Arapzade yalıs, and thus started the excavation. According to statements from the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality, the exploratory digs for the six structures were not to take place all at the same time in the park, with plans instead for the project to move ahead in stages and on different parcels of land at different times. This same statement notes that when excavation work on the Serasker Hüseyin Avni Paşa and Arapzade yalıs are completed, the digs in other areas of the park are to start up under the supervision of the Archeological Museum authorities.

The excavation of the Serasker Hüseyin Avni Paşa and Arapzade yalıs began on Nov. 5, 2012 after an application was submitted to the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum Directorate. As a result of the exploratory work, staircases, parts of walls and floors from the Serasker Hüseyin Avni Paşa yalısı and the Arapzade yalısı were discovered. The contracted company, Hassa Mimarlık, did the survey work and the project report for the area, which the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality says it is sending to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism's İstanbul No. 6 Protection District Council. This means work on these historic structures will begin only after a registration decision is made and permission is granted. 

Last Mod: 05 Mayıs 2013, 13:48
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