Bench updates

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yoeri
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Re: Bench updates

Postby yoeri » Thu Apr 23, 2015 5:23 pm

I will answer my own question. No, at the place where the bench will be placed is nothing to see at the moment. Well, the extremely nice view to the sea of course is there :-)
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Re: Bench updates

Postby cohenadmirer » Sat May 16, 2015 4:37 pm

yoeri wrote:I will answer my own question. No, at the place where the bench will be placed is nothing to see at the moment. Well, the extremely nice view to the sea of course is there :-)


So what is the timescale for this ? Still on track to be ready in June?
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Re: Bench updates

Postby Athnuachan » Sat May 23, 2015 1:20 pm

jarkko wrote:I will post reports on the progress in this thread.


Hasn't happened!
Have you forgotten this thread?

It is clear from the Hydra section that the bench project has run into trouble.

As some people who are not going to Hydra (and probably don't read that thread) contributed money for the bench an update here would be a good idea - or better still in the News section. That surely is news!
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jarkko
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Re: Bench updates

Postby jarkko » Sat May 23, 2015 2:24 pm

I'm copying our message posted on May 18 below.
Marie and I plan to make an update for our donors next week.
Council of the Municipality of Hydra will have a session next Monday, and the Council members will discuss and decide how to proceed.
After that session we will have more information to share.


18 May 2015 11:40 am

Dear Friends,

We are sorry to report that it is unlikely that our bench commemorating Leonard on his 80th birthday will be finished in time for the dedication ceremony on June 13.

The bench was to be built by the Municipality of Hydra, and the work started last Monday. However, owner of the house that stands in the lope above the bench, visited his house from the mainland, took a closer view of the building site, and informed the Municipality and us that he will start a legal proceeding with his lawyers against the building of the bench.

This particular homeowner has threatened to sue the municipality of Hydra and everybody involved because, in his opinion, the noise, smoking, garbage and graffiti that the bench will attract will be detrimental to the enjoyment of his property. Unfortunately, it is not for us to say whether this complaint is legitimate. It is completely in the hands of the Mayor and the Hydra Council to address the concerns of one of their citizens and to offer a solution.

The Municipality stopped the work because they didn’t want to have such a dispute around this very positive project of good-will. The situation is right now totally open but it is obvious that there will be no bench in June. Possibly a new location has to be found, but this unfortunately means that all the paperwork starts again from the beginning.

The site was chosen last year with the help of a Greek architect who has long-time experience in projects like this. The bench was to be built on public area owned by the Municipality, on the road from the Hydra village to Kamini. It took more than half a year to get the necessary permission from the Ministry in Athens (Hydra is a Historic site, and all projects have to be approved by the offices in Athens). Meanwhile the bench and its location was also approved unanimously by the Council of Hydra. Legally the bench is a public project and property of the Municipality, financed with funds donated by Leonard Cohen's fans. The stones had been carefully chosen during the Winter, and last Monday, with all non-appealable permits in hand of the Hydra authorities, the construction was to begin.

At this time, the future of our bench is open and is up to the decision of the Municipality. If they decide to look for another location, the paperwork would begin again. We will do our best to keep you updated but we wanted to make you aware of this turn of events as soon as possible. According to emails we have received last night, the Saturday night celebration Hydra has planned to honor Leonard will not be affected with the decision the municipality is going to make about the bench.

Jarkko and Marie
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Re: Bench updates

Postby rike » Sat May 23, 2015 7:40 pm

How frustrating and disappointing for all who worked so hard, especially for you, Jarkko, Still, let's not give up hope. So much good will cannot go to waste.
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Re: Bench updates

Postby jarkko » Fri May 29, 2015 7:59 pm

Just letting you know that we don't have a report to share yet,
because we haven't got up-to-date information from our contacts on Hydra.
Most likely we have to wait until our project team is on the spot for the meetup;
then we are able to meet the key persons, face-to-face, and discuss the plans.
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Athnuachan
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Re: Bench updates

Postby Athnuachan » Fri May 29, 2015 10:14 pm

Thank you Jarkko for keeping us all, not just the Hydra travellers, updated! :D
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Olwen
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Re: Bench updates

Postby Olwen » Fri Jun 12, 2015 3:04 pm

Yes Jarkko, thank you for the update. I was wondering what was happening about the bench. Hopefully there will be good news taking everyones concerns into consideration.
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jarkko
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Re: Bench updates

Postby jarkko » Thu Jun 18, 2015 8:02 am

As part of the festivities on Hydra this past weekend, it was announced by the municipality that plans are under way to name a road on Hydra after Leonard. This road will not be close to the Cohen family home as the municipality wants to insure the privacy of the Cohens as well as their neighbors. As with all these decisions, the first step in the street naming process will be to obtain a permit from the historical office in Athens.

Finally, as reported previously, we did not have an opportunity to see our bench honoring Leonard. A homeowner whose property backs up to the stone wall behind our bench filed legal action to stop the construction. We have learned that the court refused to order a halt to the construction of the bench. However, a final court date has been set for October wherein the homeowner will make his case explaining how the bench would be detrimental to the enjoyment of his property. With this court date pending, it would be very risky to go ahead with construction knowing that if the homeowner wins, the bench will have be dismantled.

Just prior to our meet up on Hydra, we learned that included in the homeowner's court pleadings were statements made on this Forum. This makes it very difficult for us to speak freely about this situation. Currently, negotiations are underway with the homeowner to settle this matter to avoid the high cost of litigation. After meeting with the mayor and other Hydra officials, I can say I was buoyed by the enthusiasm they have for our bench project. They believe the bench to be a wonderful gift to Hydra and a beautiful way to honor Leonard. Based on the level of support the bench has, I am hopeful that a resolution to this matter will be reached and our bench will eventually be built. We should know whether a resolution with the homeowner has been reached within the next couple of months. We will report as soon as we learn anything new and definitive.
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AlanM
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Re: Bench updates

Postby AlanM » Thu Jun 18, 2015 10:00 am

This is very promising news, thank you for keeping us informed.

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Athnuachan
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Re: Bench updates

Postby Athnuachan » Fri Jun 26, 2015 9:45 pm

We the donors would like to be the first to know what's happening to our money!

Had hoped to have photo by now of niece sitting on LC seat in Hydra. Hasn't happened.

It's complicated, I know - just keep us up to date, please.

(Glad there were no objections to the Kavanagh seat by the banks of the grand canal in Dublin! A much appreciated public amenity.)
Last edited by Athnuachan on Sat Jun 27, 2015 9:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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jarkko
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Re: Bench updates

Postby jarkko » Fri Jun 26, 2015 9:57 pm

See my message of June 18. The hearing at the High Court in Athens will be on October 6. We will know more after that. It's a case between the Municipality and the house owner, and those parties will also pay their lawyer etc. costs.
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lizzytysh
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Re: Bench updates

Postby lizzytysh » Mon Jun 29, 2015 9:29 am

This road will not be close to the Cohen family home as the municipality wants to insure the privacy of the Cohens as well as their neighbors.

This is good news. This hadn't been my understanding, and this is much, much better.
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Athnuachan
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Re: Bench updates

Postby Athnuachan » Fri Aug 21, 2015 6:45 pm

I have been hearing about the awful conditions experienced by refugees reaching some of the Greek islands.

Suddenly a bench in honour of anyone doesn't seem as important anymore.

Perhaps it is time to call a halt to this troubled project, leave the municipal authorities, protesters, lawyers etc. to their squabbles, and donate the money collected to the Red Cross or to some other reputable body which could actually make a difference on the ground. Perhaps LC himself would prefer that, if asked.

Of course a decision about diverting funds to any cause other than the LC bench should involve consultation with the donors (of whom presumably there is a list)
Which is why we need a specific thread called "Donors to bench project" or some such, prominently displayed as already requested, preferably in the News section.

Bits about the bench are now scattered over several threads, with this originally official "Bench updates " topic hidden away under the heading " Leonard Cohen 80 years on September 21, 2014 " where few donors are likely to see it in 2015!
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Mabeanie1
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Re: Bench updates

Postby Mabeanie1 » Fri Aug 21, 2015 7:08 pm

I am rather inclined to agree with you Athnuachan. However, it is a complex situation, not least because some of the money has already been spent. Presumably there have been fees to pay and there is also a pile of cut stone and other materials lying around somewhere. The project has raised Leonard's profile on the island, as demonstrated by the LC tribute events in June, and I suppose there is an expectation there that the bench will be built assuming the current legal issues can be resolved.

Also, it would not be enough to simply consult donors via a thread on the forum. Not all the donors are members of the forum and many others visit infrequently so it should involve contacting all donors individually, away from the forum. Someone would have to co-ordinate this and collate the results.

A recipient charity would have to be agreed on - or suggested by Leonard - and donors would have to be offered the choice of continuing with the project (if that is a realistic possibility - I guess time will tell), donating to the specified charity/ cause OR having their donations returned, since donating all the funds to a charity is a very different proposition to building a stone bench in honour of Leonard's birthday, which was the purpose for which the money was originally donated. Then, if people want their donations returned, there is the question of whether the full donation is given back or whether it is scaled back proportionately to the money already spent.

I think there may be some difficult decisions ahead.

Wendy

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