GB No. 1, autumn 1989


Błonia (Public grassy land near the Old Town) is the only place in Kraków where the city turns harmoniously into the "narural environment". Małe Błonia (Little Błonia) and Błonia Cygańskie (Błonia of Gipsies) start just behind Piastowska Street and used to extend till Wola Justowska and Podkamycze. Step by step they have been cut off and build over in the past years. Prof. Boniecki wrote that the struggle for liquidation of Błonia had lasted since Kazimierz the Great's times. After the war the local authorities wanted to use this huge and "being wasted" piece of land and build here bloc of flates. Happily the way from the idea to the realization was long. Błonia still exists.

I would like to ask if Błonia is really a needless terrain and if the green areas aren't necessary to live? I think it is and there is still to little verdure in our towns and cities. Kraków is unfortunately among the worst. There is 9.4 m of city verdure per one inhabitant in Kraków, i.e. 2.5 times less than average in Polish towns. The little green areas last disappear in towns, because the trees die one after another. That is why we cannot agree for depriving Kraków of the rest of its green lungs.

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"Gazeta Krakowska" (Cracovian Newspaper) informed in 1988 that a hotel is to be build in the intersection of Piastowska Street and Mydlnicka Street by Wawel-Tourist. The inhabitants of Kraków started protesting against this idea then. The objection signed Office. The objection was signed by many bodies like: the Board of Architecture's Department of Technical College of Krak2ow, the Association of Monuments' Conservators, the Civic Committee for Saving Kraków, the Polish Ecological Club, the Historians of Art Association, the Society of Polish Town-Planners. Even a fragment of the explanation why these bodies are againt this new hotel has not been published in mass media which had spread news about this controversial project.

In April 1988 the People's City Council of Kraków made so called "a little modification of the general plan of landskape manage- ment of Kraków". As a result of this "modification" the main green areas were requalified from the cathegory "SPORT & RECREATION" to the outwardly similar cathegory "TOURISTIC SERVICES". In fact it converted the green areas to the building grounds. This modification was not presented to the People's District Council of Krowodrza (the although the part of it concerns this district. Only the presidium of the Council was asked for advice and opinion. The councillors learned post factum that their district was deprived of main green areas. But still the modified plan was not legally valid.

Moreover according to the decree of the Cabinet concerning the division of investments and rules of stating their location and according to the law about the landskape planning the quarter's committee should be asked for opinion of any project concerning its terrain. In this case it is the quarter committee no 6 - Czarna Wieś (Black Village). The committee has not been informed about the project of the hotel's location and this way law was infringed once again.

On November 10, 1989 vice-president of Kraków Marek Paszucha signed the decision about the location of the hotel in streets Piastowska and Mydlnicka. The decision was taken in compliance with the resolution of the presidium of the People's City Council from June 22, 1988. This act of presidium reminds me of a joke I have heard. A client, offended by impolite behaviour of a shop assistant, wants to see the manager of the shop. "The old or the new one?", asks the shop assistant. "It's up to you" answers the client, getting more and more nervous. And then the shop assistant says: "The old one has been fired and the new one hasn't come yet".

The similar situation takes place as far as the People's City Council in Kaków is concerned. On July 19, 1988 the election to the new people's councils were held and since then the old presidium had no right to decide about location of anything in Kraków and the members of presidium knew about it.

"Freedom and Peace" Movement (WiP) has taken part in the protests against the hotel in Cichy Kącik (Quiet Nook -compare "The Greens Contra..." in this issue) since March 1989. In April its members organized a mass meeting in the Main Market Square. They talked to the people about the ecological situation of Kraków and explained the reasons of their protest against new hotel. Simultanously about 4000 fly-sheets were dealt out.

Over 10 000 persons have signed the petition against the hotel so far. In April 1989 the members of WiP threw 3 000 fly-sheets from the roof of Bagatela Theater.

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When the controversial idea of hotel in Cichy Kącik came into being, the president of Kraków created the Group of Experts for Renovation of Kraków's Monuments with proffesor Zin as a head. The Group declared itself decisivly against the location of the hotel on Błonia.

The contradiction of the mentioned above decision with the opinion of experts infringed the Code of Administrative Procedure. On the other hand the statement of the chief architect of city Zbigniew Zuziak: "the city comission of Town-planning and Architecture is not going to take into account the opinion of the experts because this opinion was against the hotel" is symptomatic for the way of thinking of the authorities.

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On December 2, 1981 the People's City Council passed a resolution about the Protection of Jurassic Landscape Parks in the Cracovian Province. Six parks were set up and three of them included the district Kraków Krowodrza. The resolution forbid the building of rest-houses and touristic centers in the landskape parks and in the areas of protected landskapes. The part of Błonia where the building is planned belongs entirely to the zone of protected landskape.

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Kraków has became a particularily protected area lately and therefore all criteria of changing its landscape and ecological conditions were sharpened. Unfortunately the Cracovian authorities behave as if these new circumstances did not exist. And who was the advocate explaining the idea and principles of the particularily protected area? President Paszucha, the man who signed the location of the hotel. Moreover during the meeting in the Readers' Club in Kraków he told us that there could be many objections in these matter but not of ecological nature. Then we learned that the decision of the president had a legal force and all the protests made no sense.

Krzysztof Kalarus
WiP, Kraków

GB No. 1, autumn 1989 | Contents