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The Warsaw Voice » Other » December 19, 2007
EURO 2012 - Regions
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The Year of Mayor Truskolaski
December 19, 2007   
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Mayor of Bia造stok Tadeusz Truskolaski celebrated his first anniversary in office Dec. 5. Telephones were ringing, assistants were filling his diary with yet more invitations-the last one to a chat on the web with readers of Express Poranny. This was a good opportunity for a summary of the past year; Mayor Truskolaski talked to Urszula Imieni雟ka.

After one year, what do you see as your greatest personal success?
Probably selecting the right co-workers-a good team that includes four deputies, a secretary and the employees running the public relations office.

What about the greatest investment success?
The installation of a heated turf system at the municipal stadium on S這neczna Street. There are more investment successes, though. First of all, the fact that no financial opportunities for the city were wasted over the past year. As for actual projects, our successes include cleaning up the first part of Ko軼iuszko Square and-after a several-month delay-Inwalid闚 Wojennych Square; expanding the municipal monitoring system; redevelopment of Niepodleg這軼i Square; road projects completed by companies building shopping centers in the city; the construction of 10 km of new bicycle routes in the city (there had been 25 km until then) and, with the communes of Supra郵 and Wasilk闚, a route to the former locality; the business initiatives support center in the W璕l闚ka district; the emerging science and technology park in the Krywlany district. I should probably also mention the revival of Sienny Square, the organization of several events promoting Podlasie regional foods, the Great Hits concert on the Krywlany airfield, and the final of the Skoda Auto Grand Prix MTB cycling competition.

How do you try to attract investors?
A few weeks ago I was the only local government official from Poland to take part in two prestigious business symposiums in Israel, which I visited with a delegation of the Polish Information and Foreign Investment Agency. During the Israel Gateway and Prime Minister's Conference events, CDs and catalogs promoting land for development in Bia造stok went like hot cakes. For now, I have planted the seed; we still need to wait a little for the harvest. After my presentation several dozen people voiced an interest in our region. During the visit I had many meetings with business people, and some unofficial talks as well. Investors asked what Bia造stok could specifically offer them, and inquired about the science and technology park in particular. Most investors, however, were interested in land to build hotels or distribution centers. Many people also asked to receive information on any tenders concerning land plots. That's the seed. As for the harvest, we'll see in the spring.

What has been your greatest promotional success?
I would say winning the contest to host the 2009 World Congress of Esperanto, which will be an opportunity to present Bia造stok extensively to the world.

What can the city do to make this the best Esperanto meeting ever?
Every Esperantist knows the name Bia造stok, because it is mentioned in all texts about [the inventor of Esperanto] Ludwik Zamenhof. I feel, though, that in recent years Bia造stok has failed to take advantage of the potential this offers. On the other hand, we have the Bia造stok Esperantist Association and the Ludwik Zamenhof Foundation. The idea has been put forward to set up a center and museum dedicated to Zamenhof, and to organize linguistic studies on Esperanto and its history. These are just ideas for now. It's easy to have a lot of ideas, but when there's no funding the ideas just stay on paper.

What are your priorities for the near future?
We are preparing three projects worth more than zl. 400 million. These are programs to manage and recycle waste, improve water quality and set up the science and technology park.

Will Bia造stok be able to make good use of any money it stands to obtain from European Union programs?
The Podlasie province has many years of experience with utilizing EU funds, from the time of the PHARE pre-accession program. However, the largest injection of Euro-funding came to the region in 2004-2006 from the Integrated Regional Development Operational Program (IRDOP). This was the predecessor to the current Regional Operational Program. From this, the Podlasie province has absorbed 110 million euros without any problem at all. Contracts have already been signed for 103 percent of this amount, and more than 80 percent has been paid out. Podlasie province is among the first three regions in Poland in terms of its capacity for utilizing EU funds.

More than 40 million euros reached Bia造stok from IRDOP funds, and was used to start a redevelopment of the city's transport system. The main roads were thoroughly modernized and several dozen new buses were purchased. Euros from the EU also helped tourism and leisure. The network of cycling routes in Bia造stok and environs, built with the IRDOP money, is undergoing finishing work right now.

The list of 25 projects for 2007-2013 has been approved by Bia造stok's councilors. There is hope for continued development.

Cu vi parolas Esperanton?

The eastern city of Bia造stok is preparing to host a World Esperanto Congress in 2009, expecting some 3,000 people from around the world to attend the event over seven days.

"We estimate that the congress will cost zl.2 million to organize," said Tadeusz Truskolaski, mayor of Bia造stok. "We plan to apply for funds from a European Union Regional Operational Program. We are also encouraging private sponsors to support the undertaking."

The World Esperanto Congress is the biggest annual event among Esperanto-speaking people throughout the world. It has been organized since 1905, with breaks during World War I and World War II. Since 1920 the congress has been held in a different country each year.

The British Day at the Podlasie Business Club was held Dec. 5. Asked about Mayor Truskolaski and his work, entrepreneurs voiced their approval for his initiatives. They have pinned their hopes on him, because his time as mayor has been a breakthrough in the way the city is run. He is present at every possible event, and he listens to people. Over the past year more zoning plans have been drawn up to facilitate investment. The character of the city is changing-it is enough to take a look at the historical market square. Hopefully, Bia造stok will maintain its character-a provincial charm without inhibitions.
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