Paola gardens facelift comes with green barriers to shut out noise from cars

The green lung in the heart of Paola will be turned into a family area and dog park as part of a project by the local council funded by Project Green

Aerial view of the Mediterranean Garden
Aerial view of the Mediterranean Garden

The green lung in the heart of Paola will be turned into a family area and dog park as part of a project by the local council funded by Project Green.

Gnien il-Mediterran, which is the size of four football grounds, will be transformed into a family area, a belvedere, dog-park, and study area for MCAST students with an amphitheatre.

But the Environment and Resources Authority has identified a problem, which probably explains why this enormous and strategically located green lung is not as popular as it should be: the area is surrounded by arterial roads and exposed to high noise levels of 60-75 decibels, which is equivalent to the sound of an operational dishwasher or washing machine.

The ERA itself has come up with a solution by recommending that additional trees and hedges are planted along the periphery of the site, particularly on the side facing Triq Corradino, so that these act like green noise barriers.

“Such green infrastructure would be beneficial in improving the noise climate of the garden, considering that a picnic and study area are being proposed,” ERA said in a screening report on the council’s plans.

The garden is strategically located in a densely populated area and accessible from a green corridor linking it to Pjazza de Paule. It is also accessible from the road which divides the garden from the Corradino Correctional Facilities. A newly constructed bridge connects it to the MCAST campus.

The council’s plans include a project statement by council architect and former transport minister Jesmond Mugliett, proposing the planting of more than 240 indigenous trees and 150 shrubs to increase tree coverage from the current 58% to 86% of the site area.

A 10-year maintenance plan will be binding on the chosen contractor entrusted with taking care of the garden.

All reservoirs in the garden will be connected to a new irrigation system to ensure that as much as possible the garden will be self-sufficient in terms of water needs.

More trees and shrubs will also be planted in the COVID-19 Memorial Garden opened by the health authorities two years ago, but which is currently devoid of trees and shrubs.

Apart from increased greenery, the interventions include the installation of paving and lighting in the passageways and a small memorial monument in one of the circular spaces. The study area is planned close to the MCAST link bridge to create an outdoor lecture or discussion area for the use of students. This area was specifically chosen as it is currently devoid of trees. The proposed design of the structure is meant to evoke an amphitheatre surrounded by trees and greenery.

The plans also foresee the erection of a wooden fence to limit trampling on the soil.