Jordi Espinet, resident of the Salut neighbourhood of Barcelona, is close to indignant when he says that he fails to understand how it can be possible that the greater part of the semi-forested area of the Güell Park has been closed to the public since the terrible weather of last January. Back then, crosswinds of more than one hundred kilometres an hour knocked down more than a thousand trees, mainly large white pines, many of them a hundred years old. That damage led to the closure of the whole of this work of Gaudi’s for three days. Eighty of the fallen trees were in the monumental area.

"Since the great winds I have to go round the mountain in order to be able to go to the Carmel library – states citizen Espinet – going up and down a load of hills and taking a quarter of an hour longer. Because this is also a mobility problem. In addition, I have been left without one of my favourite walks. And I am not the only one. The regulars of the Güell Park, the city folk, we are all fed up. We can’t even play petanque anymore.

And the fact is that the municipal fences that can only save the pigeons are nothing more than a deception for the thousands of tourists who come to see this work by Gaudi and they make do with photographing the undulating bench, and are a nuisance for many residents of the surrounding neighbourhoods, who habitually used the restricted areas as a passageway.

"It’s just that we can’t meet the demand – say the municipal gardeners who work in the area. What happened in January was a disaster, as if two hurricanes had crossed and just destroyed everything. It was a shame. The tourists are disappointed when they find the barrier, and many local people here, sick of having to go the long way round to get to work, ask you when they will be able to cross here again. But it is very dangerous to go in here at the moment. Any of those tree trunks and branches that are about to fall could kill you".

One of the workers points to the Turó de les Tres Creus, in the distance. See the crosses? Well before the gale force winds you couldn’t see them. The area of the viewing point has been razed. We have never seen anything like it. We have lost count of all the trees we have removed." The Ecclesiastical Council recently invited tenders for a company to remove the ruined trees for a little over one hundred thousand Euros. It is still pending adjudication. Next autumn, introducing other Mediterranean species in bloom, the area will be replanted, although with less density than prior to the strong winds in order to prevent new mishaps.

Source: La Vanguardia

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