Following an interview on various current topics, Christophe Rivenq, President of Alès Agglomeration, provided an update on the progress of major projects in the area, from the construction of a new indoor swimming pool to the creation of an equine thermal center in Euzet-les-Bains, through the organization of the States General of Health. The man who is also the first deputy mayor of Alès, delegate for town planning, did not fail to give news of the Alesian projects, including that of the renovation of the Halles de l’Abbaye and the thorny question of the rehousing of stalls. Interview.
Objectif Gard: Following the visit of the Director General of the National Agency for Urban Renewal (ANRU), is obtaining an additional envelope of €54 million within the framework of an optimization clause in right way (reread here)?
Christophe Rivenq: There are positive markers. The Director General underlined the quality of the files. She sees in Alès what she does not see anywhere else. We are really in line with what ANRU expects on the very complementary side of the projects. The amplification clause must be integrated into the already validated project. I don’t think the state has billions to distribute. I don’t think we will have exactly 54 million euros. But the prefect, territorial delegate of the ANRU, issued a favorable opinion. This Wednesday, March 8, we plan that it will be difficult to take the train, so we will do a video from the Atom as part of the ANRU commitment committee at the end of which we will be fixed.
Among the major long-term projects, the renovation of the Halles de l’Abbaye market figures prominently. Has the relocation solution for the stallholders been found during the works?
This Monday morning (yesterday*, editor’s note), Max Roustan and I are going to validate the APS, the preliminary draft, which will allow us to file the building permit on March 15. The project was validated by the stallholders. It’s a project worth just over 8 million euros. We worked a lot on the provisional market. Unfortunately, there is no ideal solution. We will launch a major communication campaign to encourage customers to follow the stalls during this transitional period, before coming back to the final project. Yes it will be difficult, no it will not be on the banks of the Gardon. There will be a move in September 2023 if all goes well, and a reopening of the future market in December 2024. It will go very quickly! And I think it will be a great project for the city. A real place of life that will work all day. The Awa architectural firm understood very well what we wanted.
The last “facelift” of the Crater dates back to 2005. We have been talking about its renovation for years. Is the first pickaxe finally dated?
Work should begin in 2024, provided that the project manager confirms the provisional budget set at 10 million euros, which is both a lot and a little, and that the funders confirm their participation. We are already working on setting up a season outside the walls with Olivier Lataste, director of Le Cratère, who will have an essential role as assistant project manager.
Is the construction of a new swimming pool on the territory of Alès Agglomeration called into question by the energy crisis?
Given the energy crisis, we deliberately postponed the project slightly. The idea is to build two swimming pools, one to the north and one to the south of the agglomeration, taking into account population densities, transport and schools. The places are in the process of being refined. Two municipalities are in the process of separating. These will be covered swimming pools, 25 meters long, with the latest energy standards. It is very very long! It is very expensive. When we launched the project, we were working on other energy paradigms. But I am for these constructions and the upgrading of our current pools, because we cannot say that we are in a department where it will not be hot.
“I understand that we can be against, but not at the cost of fallacious arguments.”
Christophe Rivenq, about the Saint-Christol-lez-Alès bypass project.
On social networks, opponents of the Saint-Christol-lez-Alès bypass project, over 60 years old, display an otter that they would have discovered after placing an infrared camera in the area. Should we be worried about it?
It’s impossible for an otter to live here! You have to stop being fooled by this kind of process. We did some studies, we’ve never seen an otter here. Coincidentally, there are people opposed to the project who set up a camera and suddenly an otter appears. It is a place that is dry six months a year. I’m not a great naturalist, but I know the otter needs water. I understand that when you are a resident you can get a little pissed off. What I understand less is that when we know that it’s been planned for 70 years, we act as if it was never going to happen by investing in the sector and acting surprised afterwards. I understand that we can be against, but not at the cost of fallacious arguments. Certainly, this bypass will waterproof. But by removing the traffic jams, we will eliminate the greenhouse gases which make the roundabout of the Pyramid of Saint-Christol the most polluted place in the agglomeration.
On this file, for which the investigating commissioner issued a triple favorable opinion last year, is the question of funding tied up?
No, it’s not tied up yet, but we have a historic agreement that I intend to enforce. An agreement between Frêche (Georges Frêche, president of the Regional Council from 2004 to 2010, editor’s note), Alary (Damien Alary, president of the General Council from 2001 to 2014, editor’s note) and Max Roustan, to make a third, a third, a third . This allowed us to carry out the studies and make the Agglo project owner. But in the 15 years since this agreement, water has flowed under the bridges, and not just otters! Prices and standards have changed. People don’t worry, we’re going to build a two-lane road, limited to 50 km/h in town, with noise barriers. We have to understand that we still need cars.
“It earned us a tough discussion with the president of the CCI.”
Christophe Rivenq, about the sale of Deaux aerodrome
Is the university branch project in Alès in partnership with the University of Nîmes still in the works?
We wrote to the State within the framework of the PIA4 (Programme of investments for the future, editor’s note) to try to be labeled. One of my dreams is to have a university branch in Alès, by thinking with Nîmes how in Law and Science we could quickly have premises in Alès to organize courses. With dematerialization, we can even consider courses broadcast from Nîmes in an amphitheater, or the opposite. Higher education is about the only thing missing in this territory. There is of course the IMT Mines Alès, but very few residents of Gard and Alès have access to it. I strongly believe in the Sciences, they lead to everything. Currently, with Assia Tria, we are working on the development of higher education. I would like us to position ourselves for the creation of a technological university in Alès. There is a France 2030 plan launched by the President of the Republic which opens up a certain number of perspectives.
A few months ago, in a context of economic austerity, the Gard Chamber of Commerce and Industry, owner of the Deaux aerodrome, announced its intention to part with this tool. Four candidates presented themselves during the call for projects. Where are we today?
This is a sensitive subject, which earned us a tough discussion with the president of the CCI. I first told him my total disagreement, and that of all the elected officials concerned, for the closure of this airport platform. It has, in my opinion, the medium-term vocation of receiving short-distance flights to go to Barcelona, Marseille, Toulouse, etc. There is a real development of clean air transport to consider in the next ten years. The Deaux piste is one of the most beautiful pistes. Among the four offers presented, there is a project from an Avignonnais which suits us more than the others. He has the will to invest a lot of money for this aerodrome. We support this offer made by serious people who are in the construction of aircraft. The president of the CCI has the cards in hand. There is a flying club. I also remind you that it serves as a fallback base. Three years ago, a Rafale in distress landed there in disaster, otherwise it would have crashed. When there was the Plantiers massacre, GIGN helicopters used it. We need a business and economic development airfield. It is not debatable!
“I have high hopes that Olivier Véran, former Minister of Health, will come to open this seminar.”
An equine thermal pole project is highly hoped for near Euzet-les-Bains (reread here). Pumpings took place at the end of last year. Are the waters always so prodigious?
They are extraordinary! (smile) Studies show that the water is of very good quality. We advance, we advance. It’s a really nice project, there’s a very big market. We must formalize a partnership with the National Stud Farm of Uzès. It is a project rather dedicated to endurance horses, but not only. We believe in it a lot.
You hope to launch the Estates General of Health this year. What should we expect?
It was one of my proposals to the Agglo. It should have taken place in 2020, we logically postponed them due to the Covid. I had said that we would relaunch them as soon as the health situation eased, which seems to be the case. It’s programmed. The first meetings will take place on June 12. We will bring together health professionals, health administrations and elected officials. I believe that we know the expectations of our populations. What matters to me is to try to build the ideal model of what we want in order to have a territory where the organization of health is no longer a major problem. We must organize ourselves collectively to allow doctors to do medicine and not administration. Create partnerships, so that no one is in their corner. Gather everyone around the table, the hospital, like medicine in town. The rendering will be announced in October. We will have an inventory of the territory. I have high hopes that Olivier Véran, former Minister of Health, will open this seminar.
* This interview was conducted on Friday, March 3.
Interview by Corentin Migoule