Budapest, July 14 (MTI) – The Liget project, a reconstruction of the City Park, will heed to protesters demands and leave all healthy trees in the park untouched, the technical director of project manager Városliget Zrt, told free-distribution daily Lokál on Thursday.
The project affects about 150-200 trees out of altogether 7,000 found in the park, Attila Sághi said. Most of these trees are neither old nor valuable and were planned to be chopped down, but now in response to heavy protests the company has decided to re-plant the trees instead. A public procurement tender will be called for this service within days, he added. The decision not to fell these trees will “cost more money and time” and is professionally not well justified, but if protesters insist, they will hear them out, Sághi said.
On the dispute over changes to greenery in the park, Sághi repeated earlier statements that “top category” green areas, which means no structure can come between the soil and the green surface, will increase from 57.1 percent to 61 percent after the construction.
As regards complaints about violence security guards used against protesters last week, Sághi said he considered the “degree of security at the project site unnecessary,” but the “quality” of protests had made tight security required. He said there were mistakes committed by the guards, but “fundamentally they were not in breach of the laws”.
The opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) has called for an investigation of the actions of security guards in Budapest’s City Park at protests last week. Last Wednesday, police removed activists from the Hungexpo site, where they had been camped for over a 110 days in protest against the planned works, including chopping down trees. Police started procedures against 63 activists and made 12 arrests.
A survey by pollster Ipsos has revealed that 69 percent of City Park visitors agreed that new modern buildings could be constructed in the park, as long as greenery is increased at the same time. The survey also showed that only 71 percent of Budapesters had heard of the Liget Project which was launched five years ago. Presenting the survey’s results at a press conference on Thursday, ministerial commissioner Lászlo Baán said its lessons were that better communication of the project was necessary.
Ligetvedok (Park Protectors) said in a statement that Városliget Zrt’s promise to leave healthy trees in the park was “nothing but a bluff”. The organisation said that the fact that only healthy trees will be spared means that “some experts will take good money and use their conviction to declare a lot of trees unhealthy”. Replanting, especially in the summer, “most certainly means the death of a tree”, the statement added.
The opposition Dialogue for Hungary (PM) party urged the introduction of photo IDs for all security guards operating in the city. Rebeka Szabó, the party’s official, told a press conference on Thursday that protesters against the Liget Project were subject to several unlawful measures by “bald headed thugs who acted as security guards”. She also called on police to screen security companies and make sure that they cannot employ “thugs, many of whom have police records for football hooliganism.”