In 2003, the assembly of the City of Banja Luka allowed a local private real estate development company ‘Grand Trade’ to build a 30,000 m2 business/residential project in the area of public park, known as Picin Park (Vagina Park or Pussy Park in English) to house the Republic of Srpska Telecom company. ‘Grand Trade’ owner Mile Radišić bought the land in a public tender announced by the government for 2.2 million euros.See more...
In May 2012, when preparation work for building had started, citizens of Banja Luka formed the initiative "The park is ours” and have been organizing peaceful protest walks almost daily for more than a year. The protesters claimed illegality of the project, pointing out many irregularities in the agreement signed between the city and the project developer. The citizens organised a petition, which was signed by over 6,000 citizens, asking the Mayor to make project documents and agreements open to the public. One idea of saving the Picin Park proposed by the citizens of Banja Luka making it a memorial park by planting five trees to symbolically represent the five parachutists who died in a plane crash in Zalužani.
The protests have had aviolent side as well, when the police prevented the protesters to march in front of the Government of Republic of Srpska building in one of the many streetwalks called “Noise versus silence” (as the information on the project was not open to the general public), and they clashed with one of the protesters on a bike. The other protesters intervened preventing the arrest of their colleague.
The protests did not stop the construction, but it has mobilized many citizens and local NGOs in a collective movement to actively monitor broader structural issues in the country. The neighbors of Picin Park continued interfering with construction invading the now privately owned land as they claimed for it to be public. To protect the park from construction machinery citizen Željko Vulić used his vehicle to block. This act ended in police brutality and arrest criticized by the citizens that perceived it as a land grab. However, police claimed that the force used in the arrest was lawful and proportional to the situation, and was supported by Milorad Dodik the president of Republic of Srpska.
As a continuation of the conflict in Picin Park, hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of earth, gravel and stone excavated from the site were disposed by the company in an orchard of the Agricultural Cooperative "Agropromet" - the last large green area in the city of Banja Luka. This activity revealed the ‘Grand Trade’ plans over the next twenty years to also build residential buildings at the orchard land. In July 2012, Borko Džajić, a president of the "Parents' Forum" asked the mayor of Banja Luka for an explanation on the activities in the orchard. The mayor claimed that the land concession was done with the permission issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management of the Republic of Srpska. However, revision of the documentation showed the opposite, namely the legalization of the activities in the orchard was done only once Borko Džajić intervened. This civil intervention managed to block the concession of land in the orchard. The person in charge of permitting this illegal activity has never been named. The Ministry of Agriculture has ordered revitalization of the orchard, and compensations for irreversible damage.