The history of the struggle of Drohobych residents for the preservation of their historical and architectural monument – saltworks.

Drohobych Saltworks was again included to the list of enterprises that can be put up for sale. Locals see this as an opportunity to destroy the historic monument and continue to fight for its transfer to communal ownership. They have united more than once to preserve the saltworks, and it is unknown how long they will have to hold defense.

How did it all start?

The struggle for the preservation of historical heritage in Drohobych began in 2017. Then the plot, which is located within the Drohobych saltworks, was sold at auction for the construction of a production plant.   “Active Community” of Drohobych managed to unite the public of the city around the preservation of ancient architecture. Maria Kulchytska, the regional coordinator of “Active Community”, together with the public initiative “BeregTy” persuaded the owner to agree to another site, and the Drohobych City Council changed its decision.

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The historical value of the saltworks

The townspeople themselves consider the Drohobych saltworks to be the pearl of the city! It is on the map of the oldest permanent enterprises in the world, because it has been operating continuously since 1250. The saltworks is the origin of Drohobych as a city, and the coat of arms depicts 9 salt furnaces. One part of its territory is located within the buffer zone of the UNESCO monument – the Church of St. George, and the other – within the protection zone of the monument of national importance – the Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The entire territory of the Saltworks, which is 5.8 hectares, is a monument of local significance, and the northern part of the saltworks (3 hectares) has the status of a newly discovered archeological monument.

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– The first written mention of salt was in 1390. There are not many objects with such a long history in the world, so Drohobych Saltworks can become a magnet for tourists. This place should be developed as a complex where you can see and try the technology of ancient crafts, visit a museum, get healthy and relax. This will benefit the whole region, because it will help develop the economy and tourism, – said the head of the Tourist Information Center of Drohobych Igor Chava.

Formation of an initiative group

Understanding the value of this object, it is not difficult to guess why the people of Drohobych are protecting their pearl, as there has been repeated attempts to sell it.

 In March 2018, the state-owned enterprise was again under threat: the Government added the saltworks to the list of enterprises subject to privatization. This was another impetus to mobilize the public around the preservation of the saltworks. The first to sound the alarm were local public activists: Jose Turchyk, Lev Skop, Maria Tyazhkun, Oleh Dukas, Ihor Chava, Oleh Dyorka and Andriy Yurkevich.

The first steps of activists to protect the saltworks

Representatives of the initiative group immediately organized an advocacy campaign “Save the saltworks.” The first step was to widely inform the city’s residents. Activists set up a tent in the center of the city and explained to everyone the importance of the situation. During March-May 2018, they managed to write and send almost 400 letters to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine from city residents and representatives of public organizations demanding to prevent the privatization of the enterprise.

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– Activists believe that communal property is the best way to allow the community to directly influence the development of the enterprise. The possibility of privatization means the possibility of destroying this monument. It is not known who is privatizing the saltworks and for what purpose. Involving business is needed to develop a concept developed by the community, but all levers of influence are at the state level, so it is difficult to influence this process, – said the regional coordinator of “Active Community” Olena Yurkevich.

The results of the initiative group in 2018

An extensive information campaign helped to draw public attention to the saltworks not only in Drohobych, but throughout the country. During 2018, activists organized dozens of interviews for Ukrainian media  and a briefing in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Drohobych City Council and Lviv Regional Council also supported the initiative of residents to prevent privatization of the enterprise and sent a dozen official appeals to the Government.

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In the summer of 2018, the concept of revitalization (restoration) of the saltworks was developed with the participation of city residents and representatives of public organizations. Based on it, students of Lviv Polytechnic created an architectural revitalization project. Drohobych residents with the help of a public consultation chose the tourist slogan of the city: “Drohobych – it’s all salt.” In this way, they once again emphasized the importance of preserving the historical heritage of the city.

The struggle for the saltworks continues!

In 2019, the company was again included in the lists for privatization. Now the saltworks is state-owned. The management of the State Property Fund of Ukraine and local MP Orest Salamakha assure that it will not be put up for privatization. However, activists are concerned that the company is not protected by the Law of Ukraine “On the List of Enterprises Not Subject to Privatization”, so there is a constant danger of its sale.

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– Drohobych Saltworks is a potential for the development of the city. The salt that is extracted there can become a basis for development in the direction of health and recreation, production, museum, creation of a cultural and artistic community center, a creative enterprise. This is an opportunity to give new life to the historical monument of the city, – said Maria Tyazhkun, a member of the public initiative “BeregTy”.

Today, the initiative unites 15 people who defended the saltworks in 2017. Its main purpose is to prevent the privatization of the enterprise. “Active Community” of Drohobych assists in the preparation of appeals to the Drohobych City Council, the Lviv Regional Council, the People’s Deputy Orest Salamakha, and the public council at LODA regarding the transfer of the saltworks to communal ownership.

The sale of the saltworks will lead to the loss of the unique technology of salt production and development of the territory in the city center. The community is considering various proposals for the development of the saltworks and ways to attract financial support from international institutions.

You can follow the developments on the Facebook page of the Saltworks.

Reference. The project “Active Community: the right of the choice” aims to increase the political education of citizens and involve them in discussions about electoral referom. The project is implemented with the support of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Note. The mission of the AI “Active Community” is to achieve prosperity through the democratic development of Ukrainian communities. The goal for 2025: to activate and involve at least 1% of citizens in decision-making and promotion of reforms in Ukraine on a systemic basis for the well-being of Ukrainian communities. The initiative was created within the activities of the Institute “Respublica”. We work to increase the conscious activity of citizens.