Bahrain opens new public park
Manama, October 10, 2012
Bahrain yesterday opened a new BD150,000 ($398,936.59) public park on an old burial ground in Karranah, our sister newspaper, the Gulf Daily News reported.
The park was initially met with resistance from neighbours, who said it was built on sacred land.
It was completed more than a year ago, but the official opening was delayed due to controversy surrounding development of the 200-year-old site - where new homes have also been built after the land was divided up into plots and sold off by the landowner.
Families with long links to the area initially objected to the new developments, but are said to have taken to the park and their new neighbours - who took it upon themselves to supply the park with power and water because it was not connected to public utilities.
"Residents of the area took the initiative and formed their own 'park friends' group, providing the park with electricity and water from their homes as the Electricity and Water Authority (EWA) took time for connections," he said.
"It was then that nearby residents forgot about the controversial issue and started bringing their children to the park.
"Gradually, the friends group expanded to include residents from the original village."
The Helat Al Abd Al Saleh Park was officially opened yesterday by Northern Municipality director-general Yousif Al Ghatam.
"This year, six new parks have been opened (in the Northern Governorate), including the Helat Al Abd Al Saleh. Four more parks are on the way," he said.
"Now we have the Northern Park Friends and they are directing us on what should be done with regard to parks, gardens and beaches.
"Our work has thus been made easier. Instead of six months, things are getting done in just two months."
It was last year that people who bought lots of land on the site of the graveyard were given the green light to build luxury villas - more than three years after development was banned.
Work was halted in May 2008 following protests from nearby residents, but authorities said excavations led to the finding of just a single pot in the old graves.
A shrine protecting one of the graves was discovered and has been preserved, while another section of the graveyard - located on the other side of a main road, the Al Nakheel Highway - remains untouched and residents have built a fence around it.
Helat Al Abd Al Saleh Park Friends president Hani Ahmed said people from the area had now adopted the park as their own.
"This is our park and if it stays in a good condition, our children will be the ones to benefit from it," he said.
"It is our responsibility to maintain it well and even before the park was officially opened we managed to keep it safe. – TradeArabia News Service