# Holidays. Business in Moneasa Resort, the pearl of the Apuseni Mountains: tourism and forest plunder

A week after the Pancake Festival, or Catlaner Parade as the locals call it, Moneasa is back to its usual calm in early August. In the evening, retired couples walk along the park, on the promenade leading to the beach.

The beach is accessible only to those who can pay an entrance fee of 60 lei for adults and 30 lei for children. The mayor is in strained relations with the owner.

It’s not the only exorbitant price in Moneasa, a town 100 kilometers from Arad: the pancakes from the festival that attract so many people cost 15-25 lei a piece. I saw quite a few visitors settle for a smoothie or a basket of mini donuts for 20 lei, which is more profitable for a family with kids anyway.

Lots of people and at exorbitant prices at Pancake Festival 2022, Edition 21, in Moneasa

The most successful of these was the Great Amphitheater with Icons and Church Objects, which offered gift packages with icons, key chains with saints, candles and earthenware icons, “all holy,” the advertisement said.

Away from the beach, you can see the guest house of Aurel Vlaicu University in Arad, which was bought by the previous administration, but there are no offers or staff appointments, university employees say.

Facebook about local government

The central part of the municipality consisting of the resort of Moneasa and the village of Rănușa looks good, the park was reconstructed in 2018 after the September 2017 storm that devastated the place, and the 100 km road from Arad to Moneasa was finally paved. The playground is equipped, and the children benefit from it to the fullest.

Since most hotels and guesthouses are private, their owners have prepared them for tourists after two years of recession due to the pandemic.

On the city council website, which is often not updated, we don’t find anything about resort projects or development plans.

Nuțu Herbei, Mayor of Monese and PSD District Chief, Mihai Favor, at the Pancake Festival 2022 in Moneasa

Nuțu Herbei, Mayor of Monese and PSD District Chief, Mihai Favor, at the Pancake Festival 2022 in Moneasa

On Mayor Now Herbie’s Facebook page, we see him in constant celebration: with folklore artists, with PSD leaders at the festivals that move Monasa, with guests on Munici days. There is no picture of the normal administrative activities of a mayor in his third term.

I visit the town hall on a working day, it’s ten o’clock, and the big clock in the hall shows a quarter of six. I discovered in the secretariat that the mayor was absent for three days “in the interest of work” and did not authorize the call to anyone.

Mrs. Petriere, the new General Secretary of the Local Administration, is in the midst of giving and receiving. The young woman who helps her is clearly annoyed by the presence of the media. I ask if it is not possible to speak with the deputy mayor. Nobody knows anything.

Munissa Municipal Building.  The mayor is nowhere to be found

Munissa Municipal Building. The mayor is nowhere to be found

Calls and SMS messages sent to the mayor had no effect. The mayor is nowhere to be found.

Help comes again from Facebook: On the page of Doru Miron, Deputy Mayor of PNL, apart from contacts, you can see the works around Lake Water Lily, and buy a dredge “with non-refundable financing through the Agency for Rural Investment Finance (AFIR), worth 80,000 Euro”, a city council meeting with members of a German investment fund. So something is moving.

The resort is on the second floor

I met Deputy Mayor Meron near Town Hall. He couldn’t pick me up at the office because he just found out he couldn’t get through anymore. “When I arrived at the headquarters the day before yesterday, I found my office closed. I was told that I no longer had an office, to sit with the Secretary-General and others,” admitted the Deputy Mayor, a young man from the family who had returned after many years from Great Britain, where he had been successfully working in a franchise, confess to me.

Doro Meron, Deputy Mayor of Monissa, at the recently opened Belvedere Point in the resort.

Doro Meron, Deputy Mayor of Monissa, at the recently opened Belvedere Point in the resort.

It’s just one of the deceptions of the mayor acting like a lord over the municipality, they say, hence the bad relations with some hoteliers and the county administration, says Vice. Even after the formation of the National Liberation Party-PSD coalition, relations did not improve.

In 2017, Arad Press recorded the dissatisfaction of CJ Arad that the Moneasa City Council had neither a European project nor a vision for the development of the resort. Even in 2022, it has no projects, neither on the Saligny National Investment Program nor on European funds.

“Mayor Herbie is not interested in Moniza, he is interested in cutting down the forest. I filed five reports of fraud, embezzlement and abuse of office, and it showed that he took 17 million lei of city council money without a cover. For two years, they kept checking, but nothing happened,” she explains. Doro Meron, who posts pictures of trucks with suspicious logs on Facebook.

Moneasa Hotel,

The Moneasa Hotel, “privatised” by MP Nicoire Kreu, was left in disrepair.

The hard-won – the road to Grota Ursului, the artesian road and the lake alignment with water lilies or the Belvedere landscaping – are projects voted on by city council and started with great fanfare. The project of digitizing online tax payment lies in the mayor’s will to issue 4,000 lei for execution and 10,000 lei for a server.

If Herbie doesn’t want it, it won’t. It has a city council majority with 4 PSD council members, one from Pro Romania, 3 from PNL and one from USR. So from 5 to 4.

“Healing House” with cutting down the forest

The resort’s Hungarian name since 1913 is Menyháza, roughly meaning “house of healing,” and was recorded in a study published in 2007 by Felicia-Aneta Oarcea and Spiridon Groza.

The work shows that Moneasa owns more than 3000 hectares of forest managed by a private forest department and that the residents of the municipality work in the forest, exploiting timber, marble and limestone. And obviously, in tourism, about 300 out of 820 people work in the municipality during the season.

“In the last years of our century, the average deforested surface was approximately 20,000 m3 compared to the interwar period. The surplus led to ecological imbalances,” stress the study authors.

I learned from the deputy mayor that 1,200 hectares of forest belong to the city council, which it uses for heating residents and for sale.

In 2020, Forest Police seized 8 trucks of illegally harvested timber from Munici forests

In 2020, Forest Police seized 8 trucks of illegally harvested timber from Munici forests

Locals are well aware of what is happening and sometimes express skepticism on the forums regarding auctions of municipal forest assets.

Anonymous wrote on glsa.ro. “Stop the thieves from Moneasa, stop the mafia!” There is talk of wood rustlings that can be seen with the naked eye on the bald hills. The world mentions on social media names like “Baxi” and “Barna”, the forests of the area. But the villagers certainly do not take the complaints, as they risk getting into trouble with those who run the area.

“The storm of 2017 was an excuse to cut down healthy trees. That’s when the thefts intensified.” The lumber trade made a lot of money.

Before becoming mayor, Nuțu Herbei was a forester in the Arad Forest Directorate. He left there with a management shortfall, “approximately 500 cubic meters of wood mass, especially valuable trees,” as recorded by inspectors from the Regional Forest and Fishing Inspectorate (ITRSV) in Oradea in 2006.

The deputy mayor says damage to more than 1 billion life li has saved Herbie from criminal charges. From now on, the political path of the current PSD mayor has been smooth and non-stop.

Tourism and famous monuments

On the paved road to the lake with water lilies and Grota Ursului, after passing the monument commemorating the sculptor Gheorghe Groza, somewhere on the right, among the overgrown trees, including inside, you can see the ruin of what was in the nineteenth century the building of a water lily villa Funded by Count Friedrich von Winkheim since 1891, when he bought the resort of Monissa.

Postcard from Interwar representing Vila Nufărul from Moneasa

Postcard from Interwar representing Vila Nufărul from Moneasa

Until 1918, when the resort came under the administration of the Ministry of Health, Monassa became prosperous thanks to the investments made by the Count, but also by the wealthy families who bought real estate here.

Even 5-6 years ago, you could still see the colonnaded entrance and coat of arms of the magnificent villa described on the website www.wenckheim.hu as a two-story palace, ballroom, casino and restaurant for 300 people. Today ruin is about to fall. After 1989 it was systematically looted. It was stolen from the red marble of the cabins, to the breakaway-style tiles and to the ceiling.

The decline of Villa Novorol began after 1991. In 2006 it was bought by the owner of Astra Vagoane Arad, but its destruction continued.

The decline of Villa Novorol began after 1991. In 2006 it was bought by the owner of Astra Vagoane Arad, but its destruction continued.

In 2006, the land and ruins of Vila Nufărul entered the heritage of Valer Blidar, the owner of Astra Vagoane Arad, who promised to restore them according to the original plans.

A 3D model of the plan can be found on the Internet. A long-running dispute with the city council has delayed the project, which cannot remain the same because the deterioration that has occurred over time makes restoration impossible, everything must be rebuilt from scratch.

Chaotic privatizations and the transfer of hotels from one side to the other led to a hard-to-reversal decline between 1991 and 2000. After the resort was turned into a joint stock company in 1991, it was sold in 2000 as a single package to Arconserv SA, the company of one of Arad’s richest people. , Alexandro Percia, a real estate entrepreneur. Sold the resort’s assets piecemeal.

The ruins of Vila Nufărul, built in 1895, still maintain their former glory

The ruins of Vila Nufărul, built in 1895, still maintain their former glory

But transitional politicians also took their turn. Former PRM-turned-PSD MP, Nicoire Cree, bought the Moneasa Hotel from the state, built with 200 accommodations in 1981, kept it deserted for many years, after which he sold it.

The return of some estates to descendants of those who built the resort in the 19th and 20th centuries led to further sales. Summer tourism and treatment in Moneasa exists thanks to the current owners who have invested. There’s also therapeutic saline, an investment for a modern clinic.

The presentation on the city hall website of the resort mentions healing bicarbonate, calcium, sodium, low-mineral springs and medium heat, which are useful for disorders of the central and peripheral nervous system, rheumatic and metabolic diseases. Thermal water temperature is 25-32 ° C.

Private hotels and guesthouses preserve the tourist life of Monissa

Private hotels and guesthouses preserve the tourist life of Monissa

Tourist attractions such as Bat’s Cave, White Cave, Black and Red Marble Quarry, and Sculptor Gh House. Groza’s House, Boroaia Waterfall, Park Sculpture Gallery, Water Lily Sanctuary and … are present, included. The Monese Museum, which has a history worth telling, has been promised for many years, but there is only a small museum of the village organized by the House of Culture. It requires renovations ignored by the city council.

The website for Moneasa City Hall has not been updated does not include other attractions, such as the Belvedere Point where the entire resort can be seen, the summer theatre, the peaceful lake full of fish, or having a summer cultural season on the weekends, presented this year to attract tourists .

Picture of the lake with water lilies in Moneasa.

Picture of the lake with water lilies in Moneasa.

The resort at the foot of the Kudru Moma, nicknamed in the twentieth century as the “Pearl of the Apuseni Mountains”, Monasa has good air potential, a cool microclimate that made tourists seek refuge here away from the heat, and curative thermal waters, places to visit.

The mayor constantly complains that he does not get help “from the center” in developing the resort, but the mayor’s lack of interest appears by simply bypassing the central area or looking at the trees scattered on the hills.

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