Our people have already learned how to control the authorities. Interview with AH head
By Dmytro Synyak
For the Greek Catholics, the village of Hnizdychiv in the Lviv Oblast is first of all a sacred place for pilgrimage. About 50 thousand pious people come here each year.
It happened so that our conversation with Ivan Oliyar, head of the Hnizdychivska AH, began on the steps of the grand monastery church. Ivan Oliyar says that he wants to turn Hnizdychiv into the religious tourism centre of the Western Ukraine, similar to the famous Zarvanytsia.
50 thousand tourists a year – that’s a considerable traffic. But the hromada starts to earn on tourism only when tourists stay there for at least one night. Are you doing anything to really profit from tourism?
- Tourism is one of the priority directions of our hromada development, defined by the strategy, and we are seriously counting on it. Already now the buses full of visitors from all over the country and abroad come to the monastery of St. Gerard. I dream of creating a tourist route under the name of “Hetman Triangle” in the Lviv Oblast
An old church, which now hosts the Intercession Church and the monastery of St. Gerard attracts 50 thousand tourists a year
And yet it's just a dream. Do you make any specific steps to develop tourism?
- Now we are negotiating with the investor to build a hotel nearby the monastery of St. Gerard. There was once a hotel there, but it had to be closed because of an emergency state, and was subsequently demolished. We plan to build a parking lot for tourist buses. We also renovated Hnizdychiv emblem.
There are several reports in the press that Kyle Gallagher, a renowned landscape designer from Ireland, set out to restore the Hnizdychiv Park. How did you find him? And why did he agree to work for free?
- The architect will only design the park reconstruction project free of charge, but we are to cover all other expenses: geodesy, land works, documents preparation. We have a second year Peace Corps volunteer Patris Stenkevich, who teaches English to our children, and business planning to hromada management officials.
Do you need a park in the village, where everyone has his/her own garden?
- Our residents have a maximum of 10 hectares of garden plots each, where they both breed chickens and cultivate potatoes... And the park should become a place for rest.
Will the park really have a climbing simulator?
- This is currently an idea, but I think it is quite real to implement.
So the work of the Peace Corps volunteer was not in vain?
- Of course not! Partis is a great person! Not only does she teach our children English free of charge, she also implements development projects – along with my first deputy Oksana Romaniv she won the U-LEAD project having purchased 12 school boards for our hromada schools.
You are also the first in the Lviv Oblast to develop the hromada strategy. What is this strategy about and who participated in its creation?
- We understood that the strategy is required by decentralisation. It was also written by Oksana Romaniv with the help of the Lviv Local Government Development Centre. The main strategic directions include development of economy, tourism and social sphere.
The Hnizdychiv settlement council was wealthy before amalgamation, since already then it had Kokhavynka paper factory, a well-known producer of toilet paper and towels in the whole Europe, on its territory. Why did you decide to follow the decentralisation reform?
- You know, we were not so wealthy in fact. We had about UAH 1.2 million per year. Last year, the budget of the Hnizdychivska AH reached UAH 34 million, of which UAH 8 million of its own revenues.
Nevertheless, Hnizdychiv does not look poor: everywhere you can see new or, at least, well renovated houses...
- In addition to the Kokhavynka factory, we have one of the largest grain storage facilities in Western Ukraine. An international route and a railway line pass through the village. In Hnizdychiv you can easily earn UAH 7-8 thousand a month... However, despite this, many local residents now work in Poland, where you can get a lot more.
You have laid the foundations of a new school 30 years ago, but it has not yet been completed...
- Yes, this is our big problem. We cannot, in fact, create a hub school, since there are simply no vacant places in our largest study rooms. The school, which we have been building for 30 years, is designed for 654 children, and in total there are 708 pupils in our hromada. That is, if necessary, we will host everyone.
And will you close four other schools?
- No, why? We will only lower their status, since there should remain primary schools in villages in any case. In addition, we plan to close one of our schools at the end of this school year. Many people complain about me because of this. We have to explain that when the school had 70 children, it had a future, but now it does not.
Ivan Oliyar, head of the Hnizdychivska AH
Why did Hnizdychiv residents refuse to join the rayon centre of Zhydachiv, as originally foreseen by a perspective plan?
- Hnizdychiv always tried to compete with Zhydachiv. Even in Soviet times, we had a powerful industry and our own hospital. Therefore, when we found out that three amalgamated hromadas - the Zhydachivska, Zhuravenska and Khodorivska AHs – had to be formed in the rayon, we quickly formed an initiative group that proposed to change this configuration.
But the population of 8 thousand people is a bit not enough to implement serious projects...
- I understand your logic: the larger the hromada, the more its budget is. But the number of consumers of this budget increases along with the number of problems that require immediate resolution. Besides, to develop rapidly it is necessary to convince people that they themselves are architects of their fortunes. And it's much more difficult to do in a large hromada, than in a small one.
You said that changing the minds of people in a small hromada is easier than in a large one. What has been done in this direction over four years?
- Our people have already learned to control the actions of the authorities: they come to sessions and ask, what for and how much money we allocate. They start to achieve their goals and become active. People are increasingly responsible for the quality of their own lives, which means that it will facilitate the work of the local authorities each year.
The full version is available in Ukrainian – please click HERE
Громади:Гніздичівська селищна об’єднана територіальна громада
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