Living like a goddess in Ramla -
Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ray Bondin, Valletta.

The August 2007 edition of Islands magazine includes an article on Gozo entitled Hunting A Goddess. The article, spread over four pages and accompanied by lovely photos, is an attempt by the author to get to grips with the legend of Calypso. How very appropriate!

With this excuse the author makes a mini trip around Gozo, taking in most of the beauty of our sister island. At the end she ends up at Ramla Bay of course and passes by the "abandoned hotel named Ulysses". She further writes: "Just as described in The Odyssey, the cave is dark, deep and spacious though not exactly habitable. I turn to look out. With these views - the red beach some 400 feet below, endless surf on an empty horizon and to my right a valley framed by hills - who wouldn't want to hole up in here for all eternity? The soft sand, reddish-orange like cayenne pepper, feels like silk stockings on my bare feet. I take a seat on one of the boulders and think about Odysseus' dilemma: whether to live forever in paradise with a goddess wife or return as a mortal hero to his community and family".

Of course if Calypso were to be around in the next few months she could have the choice of living in one of 23 privileged villas with a private pool surrounded by lush fully grown trees. Alas the author of the article may have to do a re-write and forget about the tranquil surroundings. But who are we to criticise when we are assured that no one will even notice the 23 villas (no not three but 23) spread over the hill? We have all seen the lovely mock-up photos of greenery because you see the developers, God bless them, will be planting trees to make sure that we mortals from down below do not notice the villas while they will enjoy their privacy!

And while on the subject I have no doubt that in the next days the authorities will be inaugurating the (slightly over budget) new ferry terminal at Mgarr. I remember when this permit was discussed it was argued that the new terminal, lower in height than the original proposal, would in no way affect the view towards Fort Chambray. (When the Fort Chambray project was discussed it was also stated that the new building there, filling up every inch, would not be visible from the port but we all know what the truth is). True, the terminal is quite low but you still have an ugly looking control tower complete with drain pipes standing like a sore toe demanding attention.

Thank God that the writer of the article for Islands magazine came here before all this discussion took place. Please do not tell Calypso. She may try to get Odysseus back to live in one of the villas with, or without, the view.

Petra Bianchi, executive director, Din l-Art Helwa, Valletta. Rudolf Ragonesi, director, Gaia Foundation, Ghajn Tuffieha.

We refer to Sylvana Debono's letter on behalf of Mepa (July 6), in which she states that the development of private car parks and road structures, which in this case includes driveways, did not require a permit in the 1970s and 1980s. Can she please quote the regulations in the planning laws that these are permitted development?

Secondly, Ms Debono ignores the fact that the proposed development above Ramla Bay also covers a large area at present occupied by several rooms built in the 1970s without a permit. Can these now also be considered as legal footprint that qualifies for redevelopment?

Thirdly, do all roads, driveways and car parks built in the 1970s and 1980s outside the development zone therefore qualify as a footprint for the development of villas?

Fourthly, how does Mepa justify ignoring its own policy on swimming pools for tourism complexes outside development zone, which restricts the pool size to 70 square metres for the whole complex, by granting about 1,000 square metres of pools?
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26 Jul 2007 by