An interview with Cracow president – professor Jacek Majchrowski Ph.D about
setting and realizing specific goals, ability to reconcile often diverse interests and
also residents activity. Mr President was awarded this year with the title Leader by vocation in Leader of XXI century category for his long term and efficient management of the city.
Mr. President, you are the longest serving president in the history of Cracow. What are the achievements you are the most proud of?
It’s really hard to choose one achievement, because we have ekospalarnie – one of the most modern manufactory in Europe, we are undisputed leader in the fight for fresh air spending millions on abolishment of coal furnaces. And on the other side we keep developing Seniors’ Activity Centre, Parents Club, we create pocket parks. We do various things but equally important for city residents. I am very proud of not only single achievements but because my city draws young people, who stay in Cracow, want to live here, work and raise their children. This is of what I am proud!
In your opinion, a man is born leader or is he becoming one during life? What kind of predispositions help you with your duties as a President, and what abilities you acquired or developed over the years?
I have never really thought about it, but I think it’s more about experiences and wisdom. Someone, who wants to effectively manage such big and diverse organism like city, must be able to clearly and specifically set goals and on the other side be able to listen to people and balance different opinions. The ability to reconcile conflicting interests is crucial in managing the city.
What about housing and seniors’ policy, actions to support entrepreneurship, science and education, culture and art?
Your question touch many aspects. About housing policy – we continue to build houses estates, we are on different level in building different three so in the end of the project there will be 600 new apartments. For now our biggest project is Przyzby, where to 2020 year we’ll build 10 buildings. Besides 357 apartments, we will build nursery, library and service spaces. Residents will have 240 parking places available including 21 for disabled people. This investment cost over 47,5 mln PLN.
Regarding seniors’ policy, we are aware how our demography forces us to create projects for elderly people. Seniors’ Activity Centers is one thing, right now we have 35 centers
in Cracow gathering more than 3 thousand active seniors, but we also have projects for elders in need – we finance medical examinations, flu vaccinations, we also expanding Social Care Centre. Very popular is our program “handyman”, offering help for elders with minor repairs.
To talk about culture, we have many festivals and our city have many titles, recently we were awarded with the title City of Literature UNESCO. I think for Cracow’s citizens the most important change in cultural and educational policy is that we try to reach with our city cultural and educational offer every residents. Because of that we build many community centers and libraries. We try to organize big cultural or sports events in various places in the city as to show citizens, that not only Main Market Square is suitable for such events. One of the most liked event is Operetta Gala which for years now we organized in Róż Avenue in Nowa Huta. It’s very popular among audience and those who are on this event for the first time admit how beautiful the music and the place are!
About entrepreneurship, many young people start their careers here, so the biggest challenge we face right now is about start-up. In the coming years we want to create urban spaces for start-up to use and presents products or services.
How the City Hall care for ecology and green areas?
Ecology is a very important topic in Cracow, especially considering fresh air. We have been called the most polluted city, in my personal opinion, unfairly. Now we are leading in the fight against smog. We decided upon drastic changes, we eliminated since 1995 year 37 thousand furnace in total. For the last four years we spent for this goal 250 mln PLN! In September next year there will be total ban in Cracow for smoking coal which means, we cannot let the poorest residentsbe without support and as the only city in Poland wehave special program that equalize the difference between coal and ecological ways for heating.
As the only city in Poland we also have totally ecological public transport. Our buses comply with the Union rule EURO5, we also have many hybrid and electric buses. I plan that in the coming years at least 20% of transport would be electric buses.
Last year for care, revitalization and creating new parks, and also for purchases of lands, city has spent 100 mln PLN and in 2018 we secured for those projects 130 mln PLN. Scale
of ongoing projects about green areas in city, for which we have a special unit (Zarząd Zieleni Miejskiej ), is impressive. Revitalizated Cracow Park, new park in Zabłocie – Wisla Station and park alongside ul. Grota-Rowercki, actions at the Zalew Nowohucki and north part of Zalew Bagry, on-going revitalization of Park Lotników, close to end investitions in Żeromski and Reduta Parks and plans about Zakrzówka are only few most important “green” projects we have.
Until the end of this year there’ll be new 18 pocket parks – small, green places available for citizens at a short distance after strolling for some minutes. Our residents willingly engaged in those initiatives. As a part of “Park Krakowian” project we planted more than 1200 trees as to celebrate birth of babies – we plan to make those places into parks in the future. Add to this flowery meadows and another plantings and Cracow is full of green, smells wonderfully and enchants!
In what ways Mr. President communicate with Cracow citizens and workers of the City Hall? How important is communication?
Nowadays social media took over modern communication. Because of that, there is no difference in communication between City Hall – citizens. City official facebook profile is observed by 250 thousand people! We are learning thanks to experiences that social media is the best way to reach residents. But it doesn’t mean that communication works only that one way. In Miejskie Centrum Dialogu since 2015 took place around 500 meetings, conferences or workshops, there were also around 90 consulting processes in which took part several thousand citizens in total. We also have portal dialoguj. pl, which helps with communicating and where people can find everything about ongoing and planned consultations in the city.
Mr. President, how you see the partnership between you and Cracow citizens for the future of the city?
We want to activate citizens. I see how important is for them the topic of green areas and with how much enthusiasm they engaged in gardening. So I propose in my next presidency creation of grant for people, who will take care of small city squares which are now neglected but can be beautiful. We also want to develop social consulting and create additional spaces for talk about our city.
What are your personal plans and dreams?
I still have a few more books to write.
Can we ask you, as a laureate of the title Leader by vocation in Leader of XXI Century category, for some advices for young leaders just starting their career in city, commune or education management?
I think, foremost you need to be honest with citizens of the city. I know populism is very popular now. We suppose some people have adventage because they are cunning and can promise everything, lying to people just to have biggest chances in elections. My experiences teach me it’s always worth being honest and truthful. In the end citizens will appreciate true and honesty. I believe in that.