Tubs where flowers wither next to empty cans, enclosures whose wooden edges are rotting, mud, dog droppings, weeds… In Paris, the feet of trees do not always live up to expectations. . Seven years after the fanfare launch of a new management policy for these spaces, the City of Paris recognizes it: it is a failure. Instead of beautifying the city, the measures taken have often resulted in degrading it. “We are therefore going to put in place a new, more ambitious revegetation strategy”, announces Emmanuel Grégoire, Anne Hidalgo’s first deputy. It’s the end of “vegetation permits”, and the great return of the perforated cast iron grids dear to Baron Haussmann.
In the very political fight around the development of the city, those who accuse Anne Hidalgo and her team of “to ransack Paris” thus clearly mark a point, in the midst of the presidential campaign. For once, their diagnosis is confirmed by the town hall. The battle is not over yet. If they make amends about the feet of trees, the socialists in power in Paris do not disarm on the rest. “Whether it’s about greening the city or reducing the place of the car, we will continue our efforts, promises Emmanuel Grégoire. Attachment to heritage should not prevent the city from adapting to climate change. It’s urgent. »
The case of the feet of trees had become the most emblematic. Gradually they have “crystallized a series of issues related to urban management, the accessibility of public spaces, aesthetics, the role of citizens”, adapted researchers Alessia de Biase, Carolina Mudan Marelli and Ornella Zaza, in their contribution to The beauty of a city (Arsenal Pavilion and Wildproject Editions, 2021).
Originally, a reference: the cast iron grilles designed in 1859 at the request of the prefect Haussmann by Gabriel Davioud, the architect who designed a large part of the Parisian street furniture. Placed at the base of trees, they allow their maintenance, allow their roots, lead to the passage of pedestrians. For more than a hundred and fifty years, these grids have punctuated the sidewalks to the rhythm of aligned trees, to the point of forming part of the identity of Paris. But, from the 2010s, a series of concerns called into question the long reign of these grids. The town hall realizes that they are expensive to maintain, especially to clean the cigarette butts that accumulate there, and that they limit the green space at the foot of the trees. The prefecture regularly asks that they be removed before the demonstrations, so that they are not used to build barricades.
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