Cutting all trees

On Saturday civilians organized a protest demonstration on the Római Part (Roman Bank, named so after the ancient Roman settlement of Aquincum that extended here) in the north of Budapest, where the Danube enters the city. This tree-covered bank of the Danube is a natural floodplain for the annual flooding of the river, but in the last twenty years more and more investors have built houses and even hotels here illegally and with the tacit complicity of the district government. Now, as the head of this latter became Mayor of Budapest, he announced that a hundred million euro of public money will be poured in the building of a dam all along the Római for the protection of the same illegally built investments, which will lead to a total destruction of this last natural river bank within the city.

Those who do not know the Hungarian capital, will be probably surprised to notice that in a city with such a large river there is hardly any possibility to approach the coast. Even this last remnant  is rather neglected, nevertheless, along with so many others, I really love the Római.
Here you can walk down to the Danube, teach the kids to dap the stones, look for snail houses and shells, walk and swim the dog, go in kayak or canoe, meet friends, eat fried fish, dance in the music gardens, have a beer or a wine in a sun bed down at the coast, in the night watch the reflections of the illuminated boats, listen to the ensemble of Albert Márkos in the open restaurant Fellini, or mostly just watch the big, slow water. At once inside and outside the city, an easily available entertainment, even on a simple weekday evening.
Lots of recreation facilities, with which such a powerful river enriches the inhabitants of the settlements along its coasts. Budapest has always taken a very poor advantage of what other cities, which manage their natural endowments in a smarter way, would just leap at.

We say thanks to the several thousands of people who indicated with their presence that they do not want this popular natural coastline being transformed as designed by the Major’s office in the interest of the properties built on the floodplain.

Literature on the topic, in Hungarian, non-exhaustive, and in the belief that the story is far from over:

– Facebook page of the Picnic for the Római Coast event, organized by the Protect the Future Association, the City and River Blog, and the Association of Hungarian Landscape Architects
– The community supporting the survival of the natural coastline: Let the trees rest in the Római
– A video of the portal Index on the demonstration (and counter-demonstration) of March 2
– A summary of the Danubian Islands blog on the demonstrations pro and against the building of the dam
– “A floating trunk can destroy the dam” – an article in NOL on the problems of the planned mobile dam
– Sándor Bardóczi’s article Requiem for the Római Coast in the Architects’ Forum
– A commentary on Mayor István Tarlós’ press conference, again by Sándor Bardóczi

Update: Recent developments on the Protect the Future Association’s site – the Mayor, three days after (!) passing the decision on the building of the dam promised that the city would nevertheless have prepared the still missing impact studies. I don’t think we are wrong to believe that this step was also influenced by the inhabitants of Budapest called together by the civil organizations.

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