Kaladze’s Weekly Priorities: Construction, Animal Abuse & Summer Camps

Each Wednesday, the municipal government of Tbilisi holds a meeting at City Hall. Preceding this week’s meetings, Mayor Kakha Kaladze made several important remarks.

First, Kaladze drew attention to the tasks of the Urban Development Service – as applicants submit the Development Regulation Plan (DRP) for their desired projects, Kaladze noted that second, third and fourth-class structures may be subject to accreditation. Structures are classed based on size and project difficulty, with fourth class being the largest and most complex projects.

In February, the Architectural Department of City Hall was informed that it would split into two entities responsible for managing the city’s construction and development – the Architectural Department, which regulates structure appearance and design, and the Urban Development Service, which manages the integrated development of sections of the city including issues of zoning and building size.

"We have implemented a major reform in the current year, which has separated the issues of architecture and urban development from each other. The Urban Development Service was created from scratch. In addition, we have simplified the management of architecture and made the decision-making process more effective. The architecture service is functioning today, but it is necessary to monitor the process and to continually improve our services. Currently, one of our main challenges is to improve the urban development management process so that decisions of high quality can be made in a timely fashion," said Kaladze.

From its outset, the Urban Development Service was inundated with a backlog of nearly 800 applications and the workforce of the division could not keep up, says Deputy Mayor Maia Bitadze. Kaladze emphasized the importance of improving the approval process to provide a high-quality service at City Hall, as well as managing and developing the process outside the City Hall.

“This is important documentation that needs to be prepared at a high-quality level,” he said.

The Urban Development Service began working at the end of April, and “has been operating primarily as a new arrival,” dealing with a backlog from the architecture department, “including applications from 2017. With the Services Development Agency and Vice-Mayor, we have started working on improving services and simplifying procedures. I would like to thank each of the Urban Development Service staff members- as a result of 24/7 work, less than 200 requests remain. Among them applications for adjusting red lines and for functional zones, tasks, projects and so on,” said Bitadze.

Kaladze also thanked the employees of the Urban Development Service for their tireless work and said he was confident that the remaining 200 applications will be processed in a timely manner.

Another topic of discussion was a construction project in the Alphabet Garden in Didi Dighomi, which has been suspended and will likely be dismantled. According to Kaladze, the population of Didi Dighomi demanded a halt to construction because the project is located in a recreational zone.

"During my pre-election campaign, I promised that no construction would be allowed in public squares or sports grounds, because there are recreational zones that need maintenance and upkeep. We understand the ecological point of view of the situation in the capital. Therefore, green spaces should be protected. Construction in the Alphabet Garden adjacent to "Goodwill" was begun but, according to the permit issued, all conditions have been violated. In connection with this particular structure, there are too many complaints...At this time, the construction has been suspended and I think it's going to be demolished. We should not allow construction of such unplanned, ugly buildings in squares, parks and sports areas,” said the Mayor.

At the meeting, Kaladze thanked residents for removing AC units that were illegally installed on facades of historical buildings in the New Aghmashenebeli area.

“First of all, these people should be interested in maintaining these facilities as much as possible and preventing anyone from damaging them. These are monuments that we are all proud of. Of course, the expenses that will be incurred [for repairs], as I said then, City Hall will take on itself. The works will be implemented by the Tbilisi Development Fund,” said Kaladze, adding that he hopes that in future, residents of historical buildings will show more care for their preservation.

Kaladze also emphasized the rehabilitation of highways, avenues and streets which will start in the near future. Rehabilitation of the Baratashvili area, near Freedom Square, began on Wednesday, which will include “rehabilitation of the drainage network, sewer system, curbs and sidewalks. The lighting system will be totally renovated and, overall, 15 thousand square meters of asphalt will be replaced. Approximately 3,233,000 GEL [$1.3 mil] will be spent implementing this particular project,” Kaladze said.

He continued, "We are starting to implement significant large-scale infrastructure projects in different districts of the city. I want to apologize to the public, because the [traffic movement in the] city will face certain restrictions, but it is being done for the population of our city. This period was chosen intentionally because many people have left the city [for the summer] and there is relatively less traffic on the roads.” Next year, City Hall plans to work on the central highway, and Robakidze Avenue will be fully rehabilitated. Chikovani Street will also see improvements, focusing on repairing serious drainage and sewerage problems. Capital works on the Black Sea, Paliashvili and Kostava-Shartava streets are also planned.

Mayor Kaladze then responded to video footage that surfaced on social media several days ago depicting animal cruelty. "I must respond to the disgusting videos...which on the one hand are an attempt to deliberately discredit the Animal Monitoring Agency, and on the other hand, show a criminal offense. An investigation is ongoing under Article 259 of the Criminal Code of Georgia...We hope that in the shortest time possible every person who has committed this horrible crime – put a poor puppy in with dead animals and violated internal sanitary rules – will be revealed,” said Kaladze.

"I have repeatedly stated, and I repeat once more, that we are ready to cooperate with specific organizations - people who wish to make changes [in animal control and welfare], but talk of blackmail is personally unacceptable for me and my team,” said the Mayor.

The final issue discussed at Wednesday’s meeting was youth participation in summer schools, camps and hiking tours with the support of Tbilisi City Hall, for students and young people aged 18-29. "The aim of these programs is to give young people a way to spend their summertime...I think it is a very important and interesting project for young people and we will continue to implement such projects in the following years," said Kaladze.

Thematic summer schools and camps are planned in technology, entrepreneurship, engineering, architecture, design, volunteerism and art direction. Excursion tours will be conducted on hiking routes around Tbilisi, where participants will benefit from professional guides and instructors.

By Samantha Guthrie

19 July 2018 19:08