Author: Desislava Georgieva
Published On: 16/06/2023

The Beginning

The saga began on July 8 last year, when the then governor of the Petkov cabinet, Blahomir Kotsev, issued an order banning the movement of cars in the area. This delighted the residents of Varna, who for years had hoped to be able to walk peacefully by the sea all year round. However, the owners of restaurants near the beach are not happy with this decision because they lost many customers.

And so gradually the favourite place for walking of the citizens of Varna turned into the apple of discord and a tool for political use.

On 8 June it became clear that Alley One is not actually an alley, but has the status of a street. At least that is what the Regional Directorate for Building Control (RDNSK) says, confirmed by the Ministry of Regional Development.

The hot potato

Then the regional governor Mario Smurkov called a press conference to announce to the media that this was confirmed by documents that indicate the parameters of the transport infrastructure, including the pavement laid.

On the same day, Smurkov issued an order notifying the mayor of the new data and effectively revoked the order of his predecessor Blazmir Kotsev of July 8, 2022, which established a temporary traffic organization – no motor vehicles on the alley.

The order does not bring back vehicular traffic in the area from Fisherman’s Beach to the “Studentska” bus stop, but only transfers responsibility for management to the Municipality of Varna.

Mayor Ivan Portnih has 14 days to rule on the case. Until then, the promenade in the part from Second Buna to Fisherman’s Beach remains pedestrian.

The regional governor informed the chief architect about the opinion of the RDNSK when he received it in October 2022, but did not receive a response. Victor Buzev is currently suspended from office.

Smurkov also asked for confirmation from the Ministry of Regional Development that the promenade is a street, as when its status was previously discussed, in March 2022, then Minister Grozdan Karadzhov had sent a letter saying that the coastal dyke was not designed to be a road. So far, there has been no reaction from the municipal administration.

Pubs and cars

Marin Sotirov, the chairman of the Association of Pubs in Bulgaria, told our media that businesses in the promenade have suffered from the stoppage of cars and have lost 50-60% of their turnover since 8 July last year when it was closed.

He acknowledged that sometimes the accumulation of pedestrians, cars, bikes, and trolleys becomes too much, but fortunately it has not resulted in accidents. And there have been two incidents involving trolleys since the cars were stopped. The empty space allows the scooters to go faster.