What does the Otopeni National Swimming Arena look like, less than two weeks before the European junior competition

The largest swimming complex in the country is not 100% functional even one year after receiving the work. The inauguration of the construction started 13 years ago has been repeatedly delayed by the local administration in Otopeni, which has either delayed the connections to the utilities or, more recently, is struggling to hire two weeks before the first European junior competition where the champion David Popovici has all chances to write history again, writes Bucharest Bulletin.

Otopeni City Hall, the town with the highest GDP per capita in the country, received in May 2021, from the National Investment Company, the largest swimming complex in Romania. The work, worth 33 million euros – money from the national budget – was officially taken over by the city of Otopeni, by decision of the Local Council, only on November 26 last year, ie seven months later.

After another four months, on the last day of March this year, the mayor Silviu Gheorghe puts to the vote a draft decision for the establishment of a new structure, with 25 positions, for the administration of the complex. The “Management Service of the Otopeni Swimming Sports Complex” receives a budget of 1 million euros per year.

In total, almost 12 months have passed since the reception of the work and up to this point, during which time the pool is closed.

“This goal was taken over last year, also during the summer. From this summer until now, we have worked here with all the teams of operators and we have ensured the maintenance of the whole system and all the systems, in fact. Otherwise, the water quality was not like that, nor the cleanliness, or maybe the air conditioning “, explained in a video material from May 22, the mayor of Otopeni.

In other words, Silviu Gheorghe says that, although it has not been used by anyone for more than a year, the complex needed cleaning and air conditioning.

Today, more than a year after receiving the works, and two weeks before the European Junior Swimming Championships which are to take place there from July 5, the complex is closed and the stage of employment to ensure the operation of the swimming arena is uncertain. Moreover, there are still workers working in the yard.

Sources from the Romanian Swimming Federation explained for the Bucharest Bulletin that at the level of Otopeni City Hall there is a reluctance regarding the collaboration on sports between the two institutions.

“The official reason why it was not opened last year is that they did not know that it would be ready and they did not budget their expenses for the administration of the complex. The pool has been filled with water since May 2021 and all they used there was sponsorships. They did not use the local budget to operate the pools. We would like to support the activity of the complex and the mayor knows this “, pointed out the sources of the editorial office.

Gianina Lazanu, a local councilor elected on the USR-PLUS lists and a member of the Committee on Budget, Finance and Development, says that the reception in May 2021 was made without a fire safety permit.

“The minutes of the reception state that Otopeni ATU will take the necessary steps to obtain the fire safety permit. Basically, this investment objective was taken over without a fire safety permit. What is the stage of obtaining the authorization, what is the stage of realizing the public service of administration of the complex? We have officially asked for clarifications but we have not yet received an answer from the mayor’s office “, says Gianina Lazanu.

Extract from the minutes of the Local Council meeting of 31.03.2022

For his part, Andrei Ionescu, a local councilor elected on the lists of the Otopeniul Nostru Initiative Party, says that, although approved in the 12th hour, the staffing scheme is incomplete.

“The 25 newly established positions through the Local Public Service for the Administration of the Otopeni Swimming Sports Complex do not provide for the supervisors for the two free hours granted to children studying at schools in the city, provided in the decision on the establishment and organization of the Service,” said Andrei Ionescu.

In 2018, the builders contracted by the National Investment Company were almost ready for the work, while the Otopeni City Hall postponed the connection to running water and sewerage. Unofficially, the main reason was the lack of investment in the city’s sewer network, which has been undersized for years, but also the problems with illegal wastewater discharges into the Pasărea River from the city’s sewage treatment plant.

Illegal discharges from the Otopeni City treatment plant and the “color” of the Pasărea River, within the Tunari commune, two kilometers downstream.

The construction of the Swimming Center in Otopeni began in 2009, two years after the announcement of the then Government regarding an extensive investment program for Romanian swimming. In 2007, it was promised to build no less than 70 pools across the country as part of a € 120 million project. The flagship project was represented by the Otopeni Swimming Sports Complex. Although originally scheduled for completion in 2011, the project was stopped by the government in the same year as the works had reached 20%. The National Swimming Arena is located in Otopeni, on Otopeni Station Street.

According to the calendar of the European Swimming Federation, between 5 and 10 July, the European Junior Swimming Championships must take place in Otopeni and between 18 and 24 July the Jumping Championships. At the first competition, the head of the poster is the new world champion David Popovici.

The syncopes regarding the functioning of the swimming complex take place in the context in which the highest GDP per capita in the country is registered in Otopeni, and the annual budget of the locality, of almost 40 million euros, is the second largest in Ilfov, after Volunteers. All due to the taxes paid by the aeronautical sector and the industry that has developed naturally, in the last 30, in the vicinity of DN1 and the Ring Road.

The Bucharest Bulletin addressed the Otopeni City Hall in writing regarding the date of the inauguration of the sports complex.

I asked when it will be open to the public and what the access conditions will be for performance swimmers and the general public.

Although the subject is of major public interest, in the context in which David Popovici broke the world record in the 100 meters freestyle this week, I did not receive any answer until the time of publication of this article.

Source: Bucharest Bulletin