"In July 2019, we'll have a nice stroll in La Chapelle." This commitment by PS mayor Anne Hidalgo, formulated in 2018, can make anyone who wanders around this district in the north of Paris, on the edge of the XNUMXth arrondissement, smile.
It is indeed hard to stroll peacefully around the homonymous station: clusters of men offer contraband cigarettes or, a little further on, other products in an improvised street market that leaves little room for passers-by.
In the small square renovated and enlarged for this project, not a family hanging out at the end of the afternoon; as for the one opposite, well maintained by people in reintegration under the aegis of Emmaüs, it is no longer accessible to the public, complains Marie-Madeleine Petit, resident of the district since 1997.
Under the metro line 2 viaduct, a metal structure built at the beginning of the 1,4th century, the "urban walk" promised over XNUMX km has suffered several failures: a skate park in poor condition and therefore dangerous for practice, a photo exhibition with tagged frames, new but empty kiosks...
More than the dry toilets, which lasted only a few months before being removed due to urine leaking onto the public highway, the abandonment of the Fermiers Généreux nursery in the fall of 2022 was the most scathing disavowal for the town hall.
Installed in February 2020 for a budget of 265.000 euros, this plot of urban agriculture on asphalt will have lasted three years before being dismantled in December.
The association selected to carry out the project, Vergers Urbains, found itself overwhelmed from June by waves of refugees who found shelter there, protected from the rain.
"We spent too much time on waste and repairs, we couldn't see the end of the tunnel", laments Sébastien Goelzer, coordinator of Vergers Urbains.
At the beginning of June, the town hall nevertheless affirmed that the cessation of the latter was "not envisaged" and even provided for a "strengthening of activities"...
Showing the tar and the base of the pillars of the metro charred by the fires of migrants, Loïc Guézo, president of the association Demain La Chapelle, says he warned the town hall against "uses created ex-nihilo" and an "ambition unsuited to the district ".
If the residents participated in the consultation on the pedestrian axis, Mr. Guézo, 56 years old, including 22 in this district, denounces a "dusk: the essential is decided by the technical services of the town hall".
Questioned by AFP, the town hall of Paris recognizes that "the site does not work as it should".
But Alexandra Cordebard, mayor (PS) of the XNUMXth arrondissement, refuses to speak of failure: "some things worked, others did not and there were circumstances" with the Covid and the recent wave of refugees, she says. .
In his sector, the redevelopment of a green roundabout into a pedestrian square has led to the same debate between the transformation of public space and the maintenance of what already exists. If the opponents denounce its cost - 800.000 euros - and the presence of alcoholic men in the evening, the town hall of the Xe defends a "much more family occupation during the day".
On the urban promenade, the PS mayor of the 11th arrondissement Eric Lejoindre defends him "acquis", such as widened sidewalks and cycle paths. For what budget? The elected socialist considers "very high" the amount of XNUMX million euros advanced by the associations.
In the absence of new uses, Demain La Chapelle is campaigning for a "clean and lit, without installation" axis, considering that since the dismantling of the planter "passers-by reinvest this place".
Philippe Girault, another member of the association, is counting on the long-awaited lighting of the viaduct from below, which must highlight this heritage of the Belle Epoque so that "people appropriate this place".
And receives unfavorably the idea of a reception center mentioned by Anne Hidalgo, in mid-December, after the evacuation of 800 migrants.
A month later, the town hall is still "at the stage of reflection", indicated the elected officials interviewed.