Call for a Park on Via Mariti Accident Site


In wake of the recent tragedy involving the partial collapse of a proposed Esselunga supermarket construction site on via Mariti, calls to transform the area into a public park are being amplified. A beam snapped, triggering a falling heap of debris. The venue stands on a former military bakery, which gives inspiration to the Ex-Military Bakery Committee, a group of residents concerned with the proposed supermarket and shopping center, which prevented the cutting of a number of trees. The Committee, which is over 20 years old, has had their pleas for a public garden on via Mariti ignored again and again. Now, their campaign has been vindicated with the death of five workers after February 16 disaster.

For the Committee and residents of via Mariti, a supermarket has never been needed, or wanted. For two decades, a desire for a public park has been communicated to the city, yet construction for a new Esselunga went ahead despite the fact that there are nine supermarkets in a one-mile radius of the site.

The residents believe the loss of life could have, and should have, been avoided. Now, though, it is too late. Architectural plans in the past did accommodate for a small park to be built on part of the property, though this never came to fruition. Still, such a plan has never satisfied residents as their goal has always been for a park to cover the entire area. 

The pile of rubble is now cordoned off following the recovery of the final victim’s body on February 20. Investigators will now move in to conduct their usual business at the scene of a crime. How long the rubble will remain is yet to be known.

Father Bernardo Gianni, the abbot of San Miniato al Monte, has likened the wreckage to a kind of ground zero, a stark description of the scene. He has also called the deaths “war casualties.” As a result, he has thrown his support behind the Committee and the movement to create a park at the old military bakery. Gianni believes that time is needed to reflect and mourn, to heal as a community. Then, it is time for the Committee to have their voices heard. 

A march to the construction site was coordinated following the collapse. No greater awareness has yet been raised than last week’s tragedy, though perhaps it will finally tip the scales in favor of the park plan. A banner carried by residents read “Fateci un parco. Ci abbiamo sempre voluto un parco,” which translates to “Create a park for us. We have always wanted a park.” They may finally get their park, but not before five people had to lose their lives. For now, what exists is a pile of rubble and a crime scene.  (Colin Healy)