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Piatra Neamt keeps up with the changes and thinks strategically

Interview with Dragoș Chitic, Mayor of Piatra Neamț in Romania
  • November 26, 2019 09:30
  • Author Monika Dimitrova
Medium dragos chitic
Source: Piatra Neamţ Municipality

Dragoș Chitic was born on 8 November 1967. In 1993 he graduated from Gheorghe Asachi Technical University of Iași, Faculty of Construction. From June 2008 to March 2013 Chitic served as Vice-mayor of Piatra Neamț. From August to December 2014 he was again Vice-mayor. From December 2014 to June 2016 Chitic was Vice-mayor designated with first attributions. Since June 2016 Chitic has been Mayor of Piatra Neamț.

Wonderful view from high above Piatra Neamt 

Piatra Neamț is one of the most picturesque places in Romania. Please describe the city in a few sentences.

Piatra Neamt is a city loaded with both past and modern. You get in touch with the past of Piatra Neamt city from the moment you descend on the railway station, which Francis Ford Coppola transformed into a set for the movie "Youth without Youth", and after a few meters, you get in touch with the present, because the same "courtyard" impresses you with the modern architecture of the Telegondola building and the silhouettes of the cable support poles. The city can be considered a successful combination between the natural, the architectural and the human potential - the strengths of the local community.

The city is built around the Royal Court, the main attraction of our city, its first documentary attestation being in 1491.

Piatra Neamț is like a holiday resort, where time seems to have stopped in place - hence the name of "Pearl of Moldova", which is rightly attributed to this city.

Piatra Neamț is growing very fast in recent years. What are you doing to attract new investors and strategic projects?

Piatra Neamț attracts as a residential, tourist and business destination. Over the last 2 years have been inaugurated new structures of tourist reception, blocks of private houses, another mall, etc. The municipality keeps up with the changes and thinks strategically. One of the successful projects we can mention here is Rubik Hub, a business accelerator arranged in a picturesque area (and in a public building) by ADR NE, following a partnership.

In order to be informed and find opportunities, investors benefit from all our attention, from direct meetings to a dedicated page on the City Hall's website. We participate in (and actively support) profile events. The city hosted last April an EDEN Network meeting, a structure of European destinations of excellence.

Also, by publicly communicating the directions and the action plan for the next period, the projects to be started (e.g. those financed by funds not reimbursed through the ROP), we are constantly transmitting the signals and opportunities expected by the local business environment, but we also make our offer known for foreign investment groups and funds in the online environment, as well as through meetings with representatives of the diplomatic corps, with development managers, etc.

Recently, you participated in a discussion on the situation of European financial allocations for the development of urban areas by 2020 and in the next financial period 2021-2027. What will be the main priorities for Piatra Neamț?

In accordance with the Europe 2020 Agenda (areas of intervention and targets set for the current period) but also with future funding priorities, the Municipality has exciting development prospects.

So far, we have focused on online interaction with citizens (Piatra Neamt City App), on urban mobility (bicycle lanes and bike-sharing network, digitizing waiting stations, etc.), on making the city as livable and friendly as possible (moving the air cables underground, conversion of derelict areas into active relaxation parks), on the modernization of public services (transport, lighting, wifi connectivity, etc.) And we have taken  into account the evolution of technology (putting on the city map a network of charging stations for electric cars), we have  signed or are in the process of signing financing contracts of over 15 million euros. In the future the city will keep its orientation as a smart and green city, a city that will process and recycle its emissions and waste, will follow the development as a regional urban pole and will manifest its social responsibility.

Beyond these permanent concerns for the environment, for improving the quality of life of the people, there is the need to attract business and investment, Romanian or foreign, and attract resources (human, financial, technological, etc.).

How did Romania's accession to the EU contribute to the transformation of Piatra Neamț into a better city to live in? Please tell us more about the most important projects supported by the EU.

Let me start with the pre-accession funds and the first projects realized after the accession (modernization of the water treatment plant and waste management system, worth 20 million euros each). And continue with the big projects in the city center, namely the restoration and extension of the area around the Royal Court (a project selected by the European Parliament as an example within the What Europe Does for Me platform). Also, setting up a pedestrian platform and a road bridge over the Cuejdi river, overhaul of the main entrance boulevards (worth more than 30 million euros). The European standards, models of good practice and money have decisively contributed to the modernization and development of the public infrastructure and services.

Also, many more "soft" projects, such as the rehabilitation and construction of social centers, the installation of solar panels on some schools and kindergartens and the construction of a tourist information center, have contributed to the comfort of the citizens and tourists.

How do you evaluate the initiative of a unified platform for European municipalities and its objective to inform European citizens about what is happening in their cities? How can the portal be useful to you and the citizens of Piatra Neamț?

It is a welcome initiative, both by creating the possibility of comparisons, and by the fact that good practices, different (or innovative) approaches and visions inspire others, who are in the same situation. For us, opening to other systems of local governance and public management to the solutions applied by others to solve similar problems, can only be beneficial. We certainly have what to learn from others.

Piatra Neamț has a very rich cultural program. What are you planning for this fall and winter?

Let me mention the Piatra Neamt Theater Festival in November, an event that Piatra Neamț City Hall supports.

Also in that time of the year, the International Astronomy Olympiad is held in Piatra Neamț, with the participation of 250 students and teachers from 21 countries. At the end of November, the 26th edition of the Emanuel Elenescu International Musical Performance Competition will be held here. 

For December 1st we will organize the National Day of Romania. Because our city has a special charm during the winter holidays, we organize a series of events at the Christmas Fair in Piatra Neamț.

Find out more about Piatra-Neamt here