Private company wants concession contract for one of Bucharest's parks for the year, several NGOs resist the proposal
More than twenty NGOs have written an open letter to the Bucharest City Hall, asking the mayor not to consider a private company’s recent request for the concession of Izvor Park.
The proposal in question was submitted to City Hall by a company owned by the organizers of the Untold and Neversea festivals, called Wunderpark, and features a one-year takeover of Izvor Park for the purpose of bringing "together, in one place, a multitude of artistic expression activities, which will be combined with food & beverages, shops or an NGO development hub”, according to HotNews.
The company states that Izvor Park is the perfect location to develop their project, that it is currently under-exploited in terms of the possibilities it could offer, and that by investing in it for their own needs, they would be doing something positive for the development of Bucharest, the community, and local tourism.
The maintenance of the park would fall under the responsibility of WunderPark, and this would improve the poor state of the park at the moment, the document states.
On the other end of the spectrum, the more than twenty civic groups and NGOs that signed the open letter to Bucharest City Hall are asking the institution to protect the park and not let it be taken over by a private firm, bringing attention to the damage caused in public spaces by festivals and concerts, and insisting that any event organized in a public green space should offer unrestricted access, not put the very space behind a paywall.
"We call on Bucharest City Hall and the General Council to assume their role as protectors of the public interest and to make essential changes in the approval, monitoring, and application of sanctions, according to the legal provisions in force, for concert and festival events organized in the capital's parks," reads the open letter.
The open letter covers the following demands:
- Events organized in parks must not restrict free and open access to public green spaces
"Given that we are well below the target of 26 sqm of green space/capita, we consider it deeply wrong to restrict citizens' access to public green space or to make it conditional on the payment of a ticket.”
- Events that gather crowds of people and involve the setting up of large stages should not be organized in public green spaces
"The most obvious proof that this type of event strongly affects the green space is the state Izvor Park is in after the events organized this summer, the lawns are destroyed, full of shards of glass, and cigarette butts and the trees are affected by the movement of heavy machinery during installation.”
- Events using amplified sound should not be held near residential areas: noise pollution damages the environment and lowers the quality of life for people living nearby
"Legally, the noise limit in parks is 60 dB, which excludes from the outset the amplification of sound via large loudspeakers. When the noise exceeds this limit, it affects the park's ecosystem, the buildings in the immediate vicinity, and the quality of housing through vibrations generated by the amplified sound.”
- Clear and transparent mechanisms for notification, control, and sanctioning should be established, leading to the accountability of the organizers of events in the public space.
"The way in which the protocols for holding these events are drawn up is strictly formal, with vaguely formulated rules that are insufficiently detailed to protect the spaces in which they are held and do not meet the particular requirements of each venue."
HotNews spoke to the man in charge of green spaces in Bucharest, Horia Tomescu, who said that he is "not aware of such a proposal. No such request has been submitted to my office. After Nostalgia" (here he is referring to the three weeks that Izvor Park was closed to the public because of the festival) "and what happened in June with Cișmigiu Park, I asked the Administration of Lakes, Parks and Recreation Bucharest to be very careful what they sign".
On June 27, Bucharest Mayor Nicușor Dan told G4Media that "it is a proposal that needs to be discussed. The decision is far from being taken."
He went on to say that he is "a supporter of private operators organizing festivals in Bucharest. However, the way in which such festivals will be organized remains to be determined," and that the proposal could potentially be a good thing, as "at the moment Izvor Park does not have a very clear identity, it is not defined in terms of landscaping. A bad project can do a lot of harm, a good project can raise it to a new level".