This is what the new Hajnówka will be like
Two and a half years, EUR 3.5 million, 77 projects. This is a summary in numbers. And the areas? Nature, business, education, city, people. This is the first project that treats the development of the city in such a comprehensive way. I am talking about the project “Hajnówka Renewal – Green Transformation”, which is just entering the implementation phase. – This may not be a new development path, but a highway – comments Agnieszka Dawydzik, an expert from the Association of Polish Cities.
On Friday (17/12) a meeting inaugurating the project took place. It was attended by representatives of the Podlaskie Voivodeship Marshal’s Office, the Ministry of Funds and Regional Policy, the Association of Polish Cities, the Municipal in Hajnówka and partner institutions. The project is worth EUR 3.5 million. This is money from a grant from Norwegian funds, intended to support cities losing their socio-economic functions. Hajnówka is one of the two poviat towns in the voivodeship. Podlasie, which was awarded a grant. Support will also be given to Łomża, as a former voivodeship city.
This is a great opportunity for us. Initially, we applied for EUR 10 million, but eventually the amount of aid was reduced to EUR 3.5 million. The project is scheduled for two and a half years. It is not an easy undertaking - we have a lot of work, changes and difficulties ahead of us. However, I am hopeful and think it would be a mistake not to take on this challenge.
Before the city joined the project, a series of studies and analysis were carried out. Their conclusions are not optimistic. Just look at the demographic data. Last year, Hajnówka had 20,265 inhabitants. That is 2,090 people less than ten years earlier. There are fewer young people and the number of seniors is growing. According to forecasts, around 2040 there will be only one person of working age for three seniors. The number of inhabitants is decreasing because the young do not see any prospects for themselves in their hometown. This is another conclusion from the aforementioned analysis.
Certainly, this is a situation that should bring us upright. However, not in such a way as to collapse, but in order to create a catalyst for change. This project is supposed to be something like that, such a spark. It should be the starting point for further work.
There are many challenges. The representative of the Association of Polish Cities recalled data showing the investment attractiveness of Hajnówka. There are no hotels among the newly constructed facilities. New office buildings, at most warehouses, are not appearing, which can be considered a positive phenomenon to some extent. Generally, however, the city is not considered attractive to potential investors. The problem of Hajnówka is also the lack of a classic city center, with greenery and space for residents to use.
photo by Adam Panfiluk
What does someone who comes here see? Certainly captivating nature. However, it is a huge challenge and hard work to make the forest not a raw material, but a valuable resource, which, after all, is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The measure will be the meeting place of two cultures - wood cutting and its use in industry and the culture of respecting nature, caring for the climate. And all that is fleeting. And if we destroy it, it will be irreversible damage.
The city’s potential are also residents who cultivate the local tradition. It is here that high-quality food products entered on the List of Traditional Products are made. These are cottage cheese and butter from OSM in Hajnówka or the famous Marcinek cake.
What you have planned in terms of activating the inhabitants is very interesting. We are very happy that we can help our project by giving us the opportunity to find a new path for ourselves. This project can be assessed very well and it is hoped that these activities will allow the residents, as well as potential new residents, to become interested in Hajnówka in a real way. Focusing on what you have the best at the moment, i.e. on the local product, on this element related to the forest, on the promotion of Pompik the bison, this local mascot, these are - in our opinion - great choices.
What will the project be like? It consists of 77 projects. Almost 60 percent subsidies are investments. The plan is primarily to create a real city center. It will be marked out from the Wasilewski Square, through Batory Street, to Wierobieja, then along the railway tracks along Białowieska Street to Parkowa Street, up to the seat of the City Hall at A. Zina Street.
The Hajnówka Center will become a community service center. There will be a Local Product Center, Academy of Nature, green areas and a Youth Zone.
Also Wierobieja Street, one of the oldest streets in the city, will start to bustle with life again. All thanks to the events that will be organized there. These are just some examples of undertakings. Support in their implementation, especially those related to the promotion of local products, was declared by the Marshal’s Office of Podlaskie Voivodships. Marek Malinowski, member of the board of the Podlaskie Voivodships , drew attention to the fact that the assumptions of the project are in line with the Development Strategy of the Podlaskie Voivodeship.
photo by Andrzej Janiuk / Pasja Hajnówka
The project focuses on young people – their well-being and professional future. Therefore, a number of activities are planned in schools, including close cooperation with employers. There will be, among others, new fields of study. A modern city is also a modern office. Hence the need to introduce organizational changes, improve service for residents and communication with them, and finally improve the accessibility of the office for people with reduced mobility. The contract for co-financing will be signed this year. In turn, the first activities will begin at the beginning of the next one.
We invite you to watch the film recorded during the meeting opening the project. The movie has subtitles that are active when the option is turned on.