Former Military Base in Pula to Become Home of Green Industry, Drive Progress and Change

Total Croatia News

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Romulic and Stojcic

‘I don’t know what those who came before me had planned for this space; after all, it doesn’t even matter anymore. What matters is that transforming Vallelunga into the generator of green industry in Pula was the basis of my pre-election campaign. Considering that I won the citizens’ trust with my campaign, it’s absolutely my obligation to bring my promises to life’, said Zoričić for Novi list/Edi Prodan, adding that he wasn’t one of those people who, immediately upon winning the coveted chair, become the opposite of everything they stood for in their pre-election campaign.

‘Even though my conduct as a mayor, most of all my transparency in regards to allocating funds from the city budget, as well as my so-called ‘ordinariness’, are infuriating to the current political establishment, I remain exactly who I promised to be. And in the same way, I’ll do my best to implement everything I’d announced over the next four years. And the place to begin, the place of radical transformation of Pula, is right here’, said the mayor about Vallelunga.

He calls it a beautiful area, full of fantastic flora; the proximity of the sea and the unique view of Pula only add to its appeal. Vallelunga is also known for numerous structures left behind by various armies that resided in the area over the course of some 150 years. The last one being the Croatian Army which withdrew after a short period of time, allowing for the area to finally become open to the public.

At present, Vallelunga is under the authority of the Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets. Since the beginning of his mandate, Zoričić has sent a letter of intent to the Ministry on three occasions, specifying what the City of Pula is planning to do with this area of massive potential.

‘Our wish is for this space to be expropriated for a period of one hundred years, and for us to create business incubators where start-ups would be developed, a centre for the development of digital technologies and new considerations of energy for the future. This is a space which, in our opinion, should never be used for the purposes of tourism or housing, at least not in a typical sense’, Zoričić explained his plans for Vallelunga.

The former army barracks and military depots are now vacant, ruinous, and shamefully neglected. Croatia is full of post-industrial and post-military ruins, but there aren’t many to be found in locations as fantastic as this one. In this case, it’s a breathtaking bay, a part of which also houses the city of Pula.

The Pula mayor’s vision for the neglected suburb is in stark contrast with the typical tendency in these parts to approve foreign investments in tourism only to collect taxes; he strives for something completely different to hotels and camps operating in full capacity for 100 days a year. 

‘Since the census data were published, demography has been the most important topic of discussion on all levels. From the cabinet of the Government and the Parliament, to terraces of cafés. And yes, it’s true that [demographics] can be helped with a financial incentive granted to families who decide to have more children. We also saw an increase in the number of newborns in Pula last year, but this in itself cannot drive change. Change can only be made possible by investing in a new industry that will attract – new people’, said Zoričić with resolve.

Locals are fond of Vallelunga; they love to spend time outdoors and aren’t happy that the area was left to ruin. People come here to sunbathe, to repair their fishing nets, moms are taking babies out for walks; locals are cycling, jogging, walking their dogs.

‘Try to imagine this place as a big park, a compound of renovated objects built of ecological, modern materials; young people creating a new industry, or rather a green industry as we like to define it. What I definitely want to point out is, when the said transformation happens, because I’m sure that the Government will soon positively respond to our letter of intent, all the people that we see around here now will still be able to do everything they’re doing today. Or rather, they’ll be able to do even more, because of the large green areas that will allow for many more activities’, he said.

Zoričić says the project is well underway, far from only being wishful thinking. The City is already working on the framework, and has signed on Infobip, CARNET and the University of Juraj Dobrila in Pula as partners. They’re now waiting for the Government’s decision in regards to the Vallelunga area.

‘Everyone’s amazed by Infobip or the fact that Rimac brought experts from around the world to Sveta Nedjelja. It’s exactly what we’ll see here at Vallelunga, and all these young and smart people will have one of the most beautiful workspaces on the planet. I truly don’t understand why we so lightly decide that life is better somewhere else without even trying to do what we’re good at in the place where we already live’, said the mayor.

He’s not impatient in regards to the Government making a decision regarding the state property at Vallelunga, saying he understands it’s a complex question. Our coastline is one of our most important resources, and it’s understandable that we as a nation would care about retaining control over it.

‘People have the right to be cautious as they’re constantly subjected to the terror of manipulation, setups and affairs of corruption, so they’re more likely to accept a space that’s devastated and neglected than the idea of it being given to someone. I guarantee two things: when Vallelunga is appropriated by the City of Pula, there won’t be any tourist and hospitality facilities apart from the most essential ones, nor will there be any apartments for sale. Yes, housing units can be implemented, but only for the purpose of temporary accommodation of visiting experts, scientists, or persons in need of accommodation in the first few months of their residence in Pula. There will be nothing commercial of the kind that proved to be detrimental to our coast, such as the cheap construction of tourist apartments. This is my promise’, said Mayor Zoričić.


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