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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Warsaw. Conflict over powder. Officials and councilors squeezed the buildings into the community center

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After Tuesday’s decision of the town hall regarding two powder magazines in Żeromski Park, a lot of doubts arose. Both historic buildings are to be used by the Żoliborz Cultural Centre. But his headmistress says she didn’t want to take them over.

As we reported on Tuesday on tvnwarszawa.pl, In 2007, the capital city hall withdrew from the preliminary agreement with the creator of the Żoliborz Powder House in Żeromski Park in Żoliborz. He will not lease the premises to Marianna Zjawińska, who created a café in a historic building and ran it for a decade. The district takes care of the facility, as well as the entire park. The building is to be used by the Żoliborz Cultural Centre. Just like the second, twin powder magazine.

Pursuant to the contract being prepared, the powder magazine was to be leased to Marianna Zjawińska for three years in a non-tender procedure. But it didn’t happen there. – I am humanly sorry, because I put my whole heart into building and running Powder Magazine Żoliborz and I feel cheated. The case of the Powder House is an example of empty promises made by the town hall – Zjawińska commented on the decision of the officials.

The town hall explained its decision with the resistance of the district councilors, who were supported by the city councillors.

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A statement from the former tenant of the Powder House Artur Węgrzynowicz / tvnwarszawa.pl

“It could have been handled differently”

– In the last proposal, which was submitted by the town hall, a very large part of the Żeromski park was to be taken out for commercial activity. This did not sit well with many councilors and officials. In addition, President Trzaskowski’s decision was not consulted. It is also about the transparency of procedures when selecting tenants for public space – explains tvnwarszawa.pl Donata Rapacka, an independent councilor of Żoliborz.

He admits that the matter could have been handled differently. – Announce a new tender, make rent rates more realistic. Make this space more accessible to everyone, not just people who will pay for a coffee or a glass of wine – he explains.

She wanted a lawn, she got powder magazines

The strangest thing about the case is that the director of the Żoliborz Community Center did not want to take over the buildings of the powder magazine. She was only interested in the lawn.

– The management of the Żoliborz Cultural Center has never submitted a request, initiative or willingness to develop both buildings of the powder magazine located in the Żeromski Park – informs us Iwona Mirosław-Dolecka, director of ŻDK. – On May 10, I submitted an application to the mayor of the district asking “to allow the Żoliborz Community Center to carry out statutory activities aimed at residents of the Żoliborz District in the green areas adjacent to the Sokolnicki Fort” – she explains.

Mirosław-Dolecka refers to public consultations from autumn 2022, during which residents submitted ideas for activities in the park, such as relaxation workshops or yoga on the grass. – In order to implement the recommendations obtained from the consultation report, we need access to green areas adjacent to Fort Sokolnicki – indicates the director of ŻDK.

So it looks like she got the buildings in the package. And this is not the end of the problems, because doubts return whether powder magazines can perform strictly cultural functions.

Culture in powder magazines and the local plan

– The Local Spatial Development Plan allows only small gastronomy or trade services in the buildings of the North and South Powder Magazine. However, conducting cultural activities is possible in the green areas adjacent to the buildings of the Powder House – confirms Jakub Leduchowski, deputy press officer of the capital city hall.

So how does the cultural activity to be conducted by the Żoliborz Cultural Center relate to the provisions of the local plan? A spokeswoman for the district office did not answer directly.

– Carrying out cultural or social activities in the buildings of the powder magazine in Żeromski Park is nothing new. In Prochownia Północna, one of the conditions for running small gastronomy services was at the same time to carry out cultural activities – indicates Donata Wancel. – On the other hand, the South Powder House was home to young people from organizations involved in the fight against climate change, including Youth Climate Strike, and even earlier the “Child and Art” Foundation. Also, the residents of Żoliborz themselves have often publicly raised the topic of the need to conduct cultural activities in this place – adds the representative of the office.

How much space for culture does Żoliborz need?

More questions arise: Will the Żoliborz Cultural Center be able to make use of both powder magazines and the nearby Sokolnicki Fort, where it already operates? Isn’t that beyond his capabilities? Does a small district really need all the listed facilities for cultural purposes, since it is also preparing a community center at Śmiała Street?

– Let me remind you that until 2022, Żoliborz was the only district in Warsaw that did not have its own House of Culture. We managed to take over the building at Śmiała 21 for the purposes of running the Culture Centre, however, in order to adapt it to perform a completely new function, it requires a comprehensive reconstruction – says Donata Wancel.

Councilwoman Rapacka claims that the district has the potential to develop all facilities. – Culture in the district is not animated only top-down, it is created through participation. Its orbit includes, for example, local activity centers, i.e. simply meeting places. In this approach, filling all these spaces can be easily imagined. The more there is, the better, he argues.

A call from residents to councillors

The decision has outraged some residents. Under the posts of Prochownia Żoliborz on Facebook, the officials poured out grief, and Marianna Zjawińska gets words of support. A petition has been launched for councillors.

“The position adopted by you, resulting in the transfer of the management of the buildings of the North and South Powder Mills in the S. Żeromski Park from the Property Management to the Żoliborz District – which blocked the ready-to-sign lease agreement for the Powder Magazine in Żoliborz, and thus the return of this iconic place to the map of Żoliborz – is not in accordance with our will. Withdraw from this position!” – the signatories appeal. By Friday morning, more than 2,600 people had signed it.

Author:Dariusz Gałązka /b

Main photo source: Artur Węgrzynowicz/tvnwarszawa.pl

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