School buildings, road revolution and bridge: September is a time of challenges for Basile


By John

“September, let’s go. It’s time to migrate”, wrote the Pope, Gabriele D’Annunzio (and our young people “on the run” took it literally…). The beginning of this month has always been an important crossroads for municipal administrations. As the summer draws to a close, the Palace’s agenda becomes crowded with topics, agendas, priorities and emergencies. And this is what the council led by Federico Basile also awaits. There is a cliché: it is always said and written that it will be a “hot autumn”. But perhaps never like that of 2023 it will really be, because there are several key pointsas well as the commitment fronts for the mayor, his councillors, consultants and investee companies.

With the imminent return of students from Messina to the classrooms, the issues ofschool buildings. The most impressive plan for the redevelopment and safety of buildings ever planned in recent decades is underway, and credit for this must be given to the councilor for public works and deputy mayor Salvatore Mondello. But it is also true that the restructuring interventions cause considerable inconvenience, experienced by the school population and thousands of families. The most striking case is that of one of the historic complexes, Cannizzaro Galatti which will remain closed for long months, with the consequent move of all the students, teachers and ATA staff to the alternative locations identified. The interventions also concern other elementary and middle schools, and above all higher education institutions among the most populated and prestigious in the city, from Archimede to Maurolico. We will need to have a lot of patience and expect the companies awarded the contracts to respect the times set out in the specifications, because inconvenience and suffering are accepted if we are sure that the completion dates of the works will not be postponed “indefinitely”.

But the next few weeks, the next months, will also be decisive on front of urban mobility, where the municipal administration is playing, and will play, its bravest game, and also the most uncertain from the point of view of the final result. Courageous, certainly, because planning is being carried out, consistently with the lines presented during the electoral campaign and voted by the people of Messina, which makes use of various operational tools and which is the result of a unified vision. A vision of what? Of the future of ours, like many other cities, of the inevitable need to adopt the most stringent measures possible against the use of private cars and to do everything to strengthen public transport; of the need to adopt virtuous behaviors; of the need to implement interventions, such as pedestrian areas and limited traffic areas, which serve not only to better socialize, but which are now an obligatory step in all urban centers in the world, in the fight against climate change. The reduction of pollution sources starts from the cities, as do the interventions to reduce the increasingly frequent “heat islands” during the summer season and to prevent disasters, on the hydrogeological front, of the rainy season.

It is in this scenario that the initiatives and projects of urban forestation initiated by the municipal administration.
The game is uncertain because, on the one hand, there are the same old resisters of those who are refractory to change but, on the other, there is also the need for this ongoing road “revolution” to be implemented by clearly explaining what the objectives, never tiring of informing citizens, dialogue, discussion and ensuring the highest possible quality of the interventions being implemented. Quality in urban decoration, quality in the furnishing works of streets, squares and pavements, quality in the organization of the external spaces of commercial activities, quality in what should be one of the fundamental points in the administration of the city, that “phantom” Plan of the a color that has never been implemented in Messina. There is no going back to the past, with all due respect to those who still have nostalgia for the motorway-lane, for the shapeless Cairoli square of old postcards and for the hundreds of cars parked in the open-air parking square in front of the Town Hall . But the future must be built well, with criteria, not being satisfied with botched solutions. This is why this is the most important match that the Basile Administration is called to play, certainly between now and next Christmas.
The months will pass quickly and it will be necessary to understand what role the city intends to play, beyond the mayor’s correct position, in the other fundamental challenge for Messina and for the entire Strait Area: that of the Bridge. There are those who continue to leaf through the daisies, “it will be done, it will never be done”, but in the event that Minister Salvini’s proclamations became reality, there would be very little time available to equip the city in view of the opening of the first construction sites, which the law approved by Parliament sets for the end of next summer. When the update report of the definitive project is presented (deadline, for the “Strait of Messina”, by next September 30th), a daily dialogue will have to start between the Metropolitan City and the Municipality of Messina with the national Government , with the company responsible for building the Bridge and with the Sicilian Region.

Palazzo Zanca’s agenda obviously does not stop here. There are strategic construction sites that will come to life – one for all, the demolition of the buildings on the harbor curtain, to make room for the new Strait I-Hub, the great hub of technological innovation -, separate waste collection must be increased to 70% and the all-out fight against uncivilized and “dirty” people must be intensified with the installation of another 1000 cameras. There are various steps, already established, along the path to the rehabilitation and elimination of slums. There is the issue of cleaning and redeveloping the streams, made even more delicate after the summer of fires which weakened the natural defenses of our territory and aggravated its conditions of vulnerability.

AND then the more strictly political questions. The Administration, which had a majority in the Chamber and no longer has one, will have to increasingly try to find “good neighborly” solutions with the opposition council members. And it won’t be easy. For his part, Mayor Basile will do a sort of “reset” within his team, to see if there are things that are wrong, obstacles that can be removed. The now traditional autumn “check”? Stuff like that. Will it lead to a reshuffle? It’s difficult to say now, also because officially Basile continues to say he is satisfied with the work of all the councilors and presidents of the investee companies. But some adjustment maneuver, or “strengthening” of the team, between now and Christmas is not ruled out.