Val di Mello: agreement reached for contested path for the disabled
After months of controversy concerning a planned expansion in Val di Mello, Italy, of an existing path that would make it accessible to wheelchairs and the disabled, an agreement has now been reached to protect the pristine valley. The peaceful protest scheduled for Saturday 18th May has therefore be transformed into a celebration for all.
"Val di Mello is safe!" This short and succinct message that was posted yesterday by the Committee for the defence of Val Di Mello, which in recent months had battled hard against the widening of an existing path on the left bank of the river in order to make it accessible for wheelchairs and the disabled. As reported previously, when the Regional Agency for Agriculture and Forestry Services (ERSAF) announced the controversial plan more than 60,000 rallied against the project in order to safeguard the delicate natural habitat.
An official statement was released yesterday today after a meeting and inspection up in the Italian valley. Those who took part were Massimo Sertori (Lombardy Regional Councillor with delegation for mountain areas), Alessandro Fede Pellone and Massimo Ornaghi (ERSAF President and Director), Luca Biagini, Jacopo Merizzi and Andrea Panighetti (Val di Mello Mountain Guides), Gabriella Vanzan (Mountain Wilderness) and Luca Schiera (Ragni di Lecco).
All the points of view were expressed at the meeting and a compromise agreement was reached which, according to initial reports substantially modified the contested initial project. Sertori explained "The definitive project involves small routine maintenance that will not modify the rare naturalistic beauty, nor will they render the area artificial. The works will make certain sections safe that are currently dangerous, and will make it easier to access for people with reduced mobility, even with all-terrain one-wheeled chairs. Both disability and the pristine nature of of this untouched area are of utmost importance to the Lombardy region. We have therefore understood the points of view of those who experience this nature reserve on a daily basis, as well as those of associations that work for the disabled and the elderly, and the result is this definitive project shared by all parties involved."
Sertori concluded "There are neither losers nor winners. The only victors are common sense and Val di Mello." The peaceful protest organised weeks ago to protect the valley, scheduled for this Saturday, will take place nevertheless and has now been transformed into a celebration for the protection of this valley now and in the future.
MEETING 18 MAY
Meeting at the "Isola", in the center of Val di Mello, from 14.00 onwards. This can be reached via a 15-20 minutes walk from the parking lot along left-hand side of the valley. Given the weather forecast, waterproof boots and raincoats are highly recommended.