Mixed reaction to Loshytsa Park redesign

In the last ten years, the Loshytsa Park, once a city garbage dumpsite, turned into Minskers' favorite hang-out. Journalists praised authorities for their landscaping efforts. But their attitude changed suddenly on July 17, after Halina Baravaya sounded an alarm on BulletinOnline.org about bulldozers rooting out trees and removing a fertile ground layer from the park.

The news caused a public outcry. Anton Astapovich, chairman of the Belarusian Voluntary Society for the Protection of Historic and Cultural Cites, said, referring to a government source, that the park landscape will be changed completely, and an exact copy of the Prushynski estate will be erected instead of the decrepit original building.

Artist Nika Sandros and Franak Vyachorka, of the Belarusian Popular Front (BPF), urged people to gather at the park gate on July 21 to discuss possible action.

"The gathering participants expressed their concern to the Minsk city authorities about the start of park reconstruction. 'Nether builders nor administrators produced the redesign plan. Rumors have it that the park will be converted into a recreation zone,'" reported AFN quoting an appeal by the protest participants.

The demonstration, intended to attract public attention, prompted state media outlets to come out in defense of the authorities. "The designers sought to combine historic material, architecture and human history," reported the state-controlled television channel ONT. "After the reconstruction, the park will look exactly like it was two centuries before."

BelTA said that the authorities plan to rebuild the house, in which the Prushynski and Lubanski families lived, the outhouse and the chapel. "Structures of the past will be in harmony with modern elements, for instance a bike trail and children playgrounds."

Zvyazda said that those concerned staged the demonstration because they lacked information about the government's redesign plan. The paper noted that the park territory will consist of three elements – a 19th-century park, which includes the Prushynski estate, a fruit tree garden and a modern section. The paper said that workers plan to cut down only dry trees and some of the trees that do not have any historic value.

Photo: Loshytsa Park's new design