Controversy over Venice amusement park plan

An island in the Venetian Lagoon currently used as a landfill site could be transformed into a theme park plans by Italian fairground designers Zamperla.

The company – responsible for the latest rides on New York’s Coney Island – plans to invest almost $100 million converting the uninhabited San Biagio island into a that will feature a 55-metre-high Ferris wheel, a roller coaster, other rides and an exhibition that illustrates the history and ecology of Venice.

“We’re talking about the history of Venice – one of my passions – but done my way,” company founder Alberto Zamperla said – adding the plans are for a cultural attraction, not just an amusement park.

The artificial island is currently filled with waste from an incinerator that closed in 1985. Zamperla says the project will involve decontaminating the toxic site, creating as many as 500 jobs.

However the project has already proved controversial among both residents and city officials, who fear that the rising number of tourists will overwhelm the city’s economy.

“We are completely against it,” Matteo Secchi community group spokesman said. “I am not criticising the idea of renovating a degraded area. But we do not need more attractions, we have enough. Venice has other priorities. Its inhabitants are leaving, it has already become an amusement park.”

City mayor Giorgio Orsoni added: “The environmental rehabilitation of San Biagio should go ahead, but it must be done with respect for this city. Venice is not a theme park, and everyone must take account of that.”