Mixed reaction to Loshytsa Park redesign

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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