If someone would like to go skating in the current mild winter weather, they better choose some other venue than the most prominent ice rink of the city – because on warmer days you will only find puddles there instead of the desirable frozen surface. Besides the former government, the office of the mayor is blaming the failed cooling system, while the opposition suspects errors by both the previous and current city leadership.
The 12,000-square-metre ice rink in City Park looks much more like a dried-out sea. On the busiest weekends as many as 10,000 visitors skate there but now only the main building is reflected in the puddles. According to hvg.hu, a few brave skaters were still tackling the mixture of ice and water on 30 December, but they quickly gave up when they got all wet without even falling down.
Opening times were modified to close earlier and open later after the operator told index.hu that the condition of the rink is not satisfactory due to the mild weather and “maybe due to a mistake in the cooling system”. Finally it was decided to close down in the middle of the season, for the first time in the history of the ice rink, according to index.hu.
The city leadership blamed the previous leadership, which had signed a contract for HUF 4.7 billion (subsidised by the EU) with construction company HÉROSZ Zrt. in 2008 for the reconstruction of the rink. The company began the work in February 2010 (eight months before the appointment of Mayor István Tarlós) but stopped in December 2011 due to the bankruptcy of the company.
The new city leadership closed the reconstruction project and the rink was officially taken over and put into operation. A question from The Budapest Times on the matter has gone unanswered by the council. It seems the repairs may not be done this season. A civil proceeding has begun against HEROSZ Zrt. and there are other legal steps planned.
According to György Szilágyi, the leader of the council’s Jobbik faction, former mayor Gábor Demszky (1990-2010) and current Mayor Tarlós (pictured) share responsibility that the ice rink is not operational. Szilágyi said: “Demszky and his team made serious mistakes by the planning of the reconstruction, but no one from the new city leadership led by István Tarlós made any steps to investigate the professional aspects and the quality of construction work by professional experts. […] Hungary still seems to be a country without consequences because no one will be held responsible, neither from the actual nor from the former government, for having badly managed a project valued at HUF 4.7 billion.”