Four days before the release of the 2014 budget, the Archons announced at a press conference that they have commissioned the construction of a public square to be used for hosting “protests, celebrations, and other events that involve the mass gathering of Park Animals.”
Before taking questions from the media this morning, the Archons’ press secretary Balthasar Alouatta confirmed that the Archons had engaged the services of Simply Structures to construct the purpose-built square. Simply Structures is the same firm that was awarded the contract to build a network of signposts in The Park as part of the Archons’ official three-prong tourism strategy. Funding for the square will be made through a one-time payment from the Archons’ Initiative Fund, Alouatta said.
“The Archons view this as a necessary and useful addition to The Park and, as such, it constitutes part of the ongoing modernization scheme,” the press secretary said.
“All modern areas, whether they call themselves Parks, cities or towns, have a designated space for activities such as protests and mass gatherings. In the past, we have used the Ancient, Open-Air Theatre, the Tartan Crab Memorial Pond, the Wishing Well, and other such areas, but they have proven inadequate for these purposes. It is with a view to accommodating our growing population that the Archons have embarked on this newest phase of modernization,” he said.
Citizen reaction to the announcement was swift and, largely, negative.
“At the very least, I think, they’re exhibiting a kind of shepherd mentality,” said Jelani Kondoo, who attended the press conference as an observer. “It looks as if they want to herd us into one space so they can control us. They’re giving the Park Police the opportunity to have a lot of power over us, all the while telling us that they’re giving us more freedom and space to gather,” he said.
Others agree with Kondoo’s analysis and some Park groups have vowed to fight against not only the idea of the purpose-built square, but what they call the “irresponsible expenditure” of funds to build it.
“Here we are, facing the largest influx of refugees in The Park’s history, battling inadequate weather, food production problems, shrinking revenue streams, scandals, and problems of all sorts, and they want to use funds to build a square for protests. I think we’d all be better off if they spent more on the necessities of our lives and gave us less to protest about,” said Malinda L. Hamster, President of The Park’s Small Animal Hibernating Community.