Wirt Għawdex, local council rail against WSC plans to pump out coffee in Mgarr

‘Such a large government-owned entity should have led by example and used the building to showcase the old water distribution systems during the Knights and British eras’


Both the Għajnsielem Local Council and NGO Wirt Għawdex are to appeal against the Planning Authority’s approval last Monday of the Water Services Corporation’s plans to turn an old pumping station in Mgarr into a cafeteria.

The Shift reported on the strange plans earlier this week and how the concept, somewhat incompatible with the WSC’s remit, was the brainchild of former CEO Ivan Falzon, himself a Gozitan. The concept is to be developed on a street already dominated by bars, cafés and restaurants.

Sources close to the WSC told The Shift that many inside the Corporation suspect the personal interests of some current or former official have been steering this project, which is located in an area of commercial interest.

Over the weekend, Wirt Għawdex announced it will be appealing the PA’s green light for the project, and the Għajnsielem Local Council said it would be joining and assisting in the cause.

Both the Għajnsielem Local Council and Wirt Għawdex have deplored the fact that “such an iconic and historic structure in Mġarr Harbour, and part of our national heritage, is not being protected and instead is to be turned into a cafeteria.”

Both entities are insisting that the remaining machinery and any structures related to this pumping station should be kept on-site and preserved, as opposed to the plans the WSC has to relocate them to another site.

The Għajnsielem Local Council said that it has on several occasions over the years tried to acquire the premises in question to turn the site into an exhibition centre or a small museum.

The Local Council “sadly noted” on Sunday that “such a large government-owned entity (Water Services Corporation) should have led by example and taken the opportunity to use such a building to showcase the old water distribution systems during the Knights and British eras.

“The Local Council would have been more than willing to take responsibility and apply for funding to restore such a building, as it did recently by restoring the old pumping station chimney which is situated around 100 meters away and built on top of a man-made shelter in order to protect the pumping-station machinery during the World War II air raids.”

Wirt Għawdex, meanwhile, maintained that “any attempt at restoration should aim to preserve the original fabric in its entirety, and all structures should be preserved and kept on-site and within the original context of a pumping station.”

Removing historic items from the site, the NGO insists, “would diminish its value.

“Wirt Għawdex is sad to see that, yet again, a part of our heritage is being patently disrespected. The site would serve far better the purpose of a small, maritime-related museum, showcasing the historical use of the building and the maritime activity right at the heart of Mġarr Harbour.

“The area is already well-served by numerous bars and restaurants. Managed properly, this place would have served to add much value to Gozo’s sustainable touristic product, while showcasing a part of our history. Instead, it seems that the authorities were choosing to continue to ruin our cultural heritage one step, and often several steps, at a time.”


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