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Bus driver vs. the Greek State and wins to become island owner …

Bus driver Kostas Selimis has toiled for the last 24 years to exploit his own property a small island known as Ydrousa that is just a breath away from Astir luxury resort at the affluent suburb of Vouliagmeni. With his pittance of a salary, he went against the cumbersome Greek state and spent thousands of euros on lawyers fees to fulfil his dream of creating an environmental park in the area.

Funded with venture capital by well-known enterpreneur Nectarios Nikolopoulos and celebrity Katerina Laspa (pictured below) the island will become an area full of ecological activities, mountain biking areas and even an organized beach aimed at drawing tourists and Athenians alike. The focus is to create an Ecocity starting with the reforestation of the area this fall that the public at large will be invited to participate in.


When, with my husband, I first set foot on the island, my heart broke because it was in a dismal state, she said, adding that Mr. Selimi s proposal is different from the other coastal areas that are dominated by large business groups.

The National Technical University has already conducted a study into the area for the creation of a southern coastal front to complement those already in existence at Varkiza, Voula and Vouliagmeni.

The eco-park will transport tourists to and from the island on boats and will operate as an island theme park.


How did a bus driver come to be the owner of an island?

In 1941, Miltiadis Alamanis bought the island from private owners who owned it since the 19th century. Despite claims on the island by the Greek state, the Supreme Court decided in his favor in 1962. Tired of the battle with the State, the owners left the island unused and bequeathed it to Mr. Selimi to do with as he wished.

The stubborn OASA (Athens Urban Transport Organization) bus driver decided to create an oasis on the island and began his uphill battle with the state in 1990. Throughout the 24 years, Mr. Selimi has had to ward off illegal dwellers who built shacks on the waterfront, satanists who would perform rituals on the island and drug users all this just across from one of the most expensive and exclusive resorts in Greece.

In 2004, Mr. Selimis was given renewed hope when he swayed lecturers at the National Technical University to share in his vision and conduct studies to showcase the biodiversity of the island.

Today, the battle has been won, even though it has left Mr. Selimis penniless and tired. Nonetheless, he is on the threshold of creating his dream park. Even Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni has recognized his efforts and sources state that she sees it as an opportunity for tourists to visit the area. For this reason, final licenses are being sped up.

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