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Ecologists block EUR 4.7 mln Sepsiszentgyörgy project

An investment of €4.7 million that will transform a 12-hectare plot registered as pasture between Sugásfürdő/Șugaș Băi and Sepsiszentgyörgy into a unique adventure park has raised serious questions because it targets a protected area, according to a petition started by environmental activists Attila Toró and Levente Bagoly. The activists claim that the local authority misled the inhabitants about the location of the investment and didn’t shed light on whether citizens should express their opinion about a project initiated by a private company or a program initiated by the local authority. Speaking with TransylvaniaNOW, city mayor Árpád Antal says that they have put the project on hold until the issue is resolved.

As we previously reported, the Sepsiszentgyörgy/Sfântu Gheorghe local authority plans to transform the land owned by the city into a leisure facility branded as a Family Adventure Park. The investment seeks to increase the tourist footprint in the area by targeting families living within a 200–250 km range, and the plan published in June forecasts about 100,000 visitors per year.

The problem is that the land located at Honvéd-kút – which appears as pasture in the land registry – is 60%-70% covered by forest. In addition, about half of the planned adventure park sits on the protected Bodok/Bodoc-Barót/Baraolt Natura 2000 site, the activists say. They have started a petition in an effort to stop the investment plan, as it damages the environment, and demand that the mayor and local counselors preserve the land’s natural state and move the adventure park to another place.

“I’ve seen this investment as a good opportunity to attract more tourists to our town,” the city mayor told TransylvaniaNOW in a phone interview. “We might have rushed the preparations a bit and may have erred when we didn’t address the investment in a comprehensive manner, but I can tell you now that we have stopped the process until we clarify the issues raised by the environmental activists. We don’t want investments that damage nature,” he said.

“However, I get the feeling that the initiators aren’t open to dialogue, as no one sought a discussion with me on the matter. Instead, they have chosen to protest against the investment. I’m glad that they raised the issue, so our natural treasures such as wooded pasture have become a topic for discussion. I didn’t know this land hosted such treasures, and I’m sure that if I as a mayor didn’t know, many other inhabitants also weren’t aware of that. So I’m using this opportunity to launch an open invitation to everyone to help us promote this value and land across all channels, so we can all benefit from it,” Antal said.

The Family Adventure park is a public–private investment: The city owns the land, and the private company – which also manages the Rozsnyó Dinosaur Park/Dino Parc Râșnov – takes care of the monetary investments. The €4.7 million necessary to launch the adventure park will be financed by European funds. “We have stopped the investment plan until the situation gets clarified. We are working closely with professionals and environmentalists, and if we find that the issues raised are backed by experts, we will look for another location. We are even open to buying one. If we don’t find a suitable place, unfortunately, we will need to let the Family Adventure Park plan go, despite the majority of the inhabitants backing the investment,” Antal told TransylvaniaNOW. He expects to clarify the matter by the end of October.

Title image: Family Adventure Park project. Image source: Sepsiszentgyorgyinfo.ro

Author: István Fekete