Jermuk

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Jermuk is an in one of the most beautiful places in Armenia. Volcanic ridges rise from the desert into rolling high plateaus and meadow lands punctuated by deep canyons and gullies.

The following is an enthusiast tour of my new hometown Jermuk. Things are going to change dramatically for the town and it’s people in the next few years due to economic prosperity and new wealth. Included are my sincere remarks about my opinions on Armenian development and where I think the town is going.

It’s hard to say where in the US or world it compares too, maybe Taos in New Mexico. If its redevelopment is successful it should become world-class resort in was planned to be by Soviet designers.


Contents

Highlights






Jermuk Potential and Current Projects and Community Analysis

  1. Primary Projects to meet the Goals of Peace Corps

Secondary Projects that also meet Goals of Peace Corps Personal Projects

I. Environmental Landscape

Right Bank City Park Project: (Projected 2004 Spring)

Road and Bridge Reconstruction (now, not actively involved)

Hotel Restoration Development and Water Gallery Restoration (now, not actively involved)

• Its restoration was partnered with Jermuk’s most famous architectural landmark the Water Gallery. • All the paving stones were replaced and the building generally cleaned however I don’t believe that there were any significant improvements in piping and structure. It was cosmetic work, as most of the work around Jermuk and Armenia appears to be.

II. Health and Environmental Education and Improvement

• During Soviet times there were three public restroom facilities in Jermuk • Current there are none, people coming to the town and currently use the city park and its bushes as a toilet. • There is talk about putting the former Water Gallery restroom back in commission, but there is little unified support between the business interests in town and the city government, everyone claims not to have the funds. • Maybe this a candidate for composing toilets

• Old building located near Ketchup was to big • New building smaller and located in left bank was constructed using private funds? • Part of the kindergarten planned as a place for older people. • Mission East interested?

• Tree Coppicing, with Armenian Forests NGO • School education?

• Analysis of resources in Jermuk and Arpa river valley • Some type of management of forests would be positive

Trash Collection and Containers • Aluminum Boxes were stolen in the post Soviet years • No collection methods currently

Trash Management and Landfills • Two major dumps in Jermuk • Neither one is sanitary

Water Management • Metering • Running sinks and toilets • Bathroom satiation • Waste water outlets

  1. Jermuk Branch of the Armenian Red Cross: (open since 2000)

• It provides extracurricular activities for children and adults. • Main goals: First Aid education and environmental education as well as outdoor recreation Examples: helping plant trees with the Armenian Forests, and getting cloth bags as an option in stores around Jermuk. • Write several grants, example: Eurasia Foundation, to update the offices and pay the rent. • Meet with Yerevan office to see what types of profit generation activities are expectable, to support the office • Get a calendar of activities planned throughout the year. • Recreation: another idea for profit generating activity for Jermuk Branch of the Armenian Red Cross

Schools • All Schools recently refurnished • Right Bank school didn’t want a PC language teacher • Left Bank school wants a PC business volunteer • After school Language Club for advanced students

Project Harmony • Past volunteers very active in work there • In need of new camera

Sports School • Former PC volunteer’s project • Friendly director

• Two sports fields in the Right Bank, dirt and not maintained • One large one in Left Bank

Playground and Proposed Sports Center • In Right Bank • A sports center and casino are part of the next phase of development of the Hotel Armenia Project

Proposed by a former PC volunteer

• Seemly popular project for PC volunteers • Proposed by past volunteers to be run by the Red Cross

III. Tourism and Business Development

• Help me familiarize myself with where I live • Showing general layout and important places for hotel guests and visitors • The Hotel Armenia management requested it. • Potential areas for investment around the city, open space? • In digital format for ease of editing, it can be refined and reused. For security reasons I am working with poor source material

• One of the goals of the urban institute’s tourism and business center • Two employees are being paid to collect information on Jermuk • The pamphlet(s) will have information on o Businesses: Hotels health spas, restaurants, taxis, stores, and shops. o Culture: art museum and local churches, fortresses, and archeological sites o Natural wonders: waterfalls, walking trails… • Published in various languages, mainly Armenian, English and Russian, and later Spanish, French, German. • I suggest the first versions be Xerox copies, to keep costs down and work out details • Some information has already been collected by the Armenia Tourist Information Center in Yerevan, and is already in English.

Tourist/Business Center: (now open) This is an important part of the Urban Institute’s plans to develop the city into a modern tourist destination. • Temporary facility in the municipal building to test sustainability over the next two years • I learned from the mayor that the town and region is funding most new projects with it’s own funds. • Staff paid by city staff • Promote small and medium business development and investment in Jermuk • Education center on business management and finance • There is potential for Yerevan based businesses to establish a branch in Jermuk, I recently spoke with an American jeweler that was very interested in the idea. • Modeled on the successful centers in Sisian and other towns in Armenia that Peace Corps volunteers are working with.

“Public” Forum and Business Interest Meetings (on going?) • Like a city council • Supposed to be open to the public but only attended by business interests continuing the legacy of Soviet totalitarian control over people • No posted schedule?

Souvenir Development: idea for profit generating activity for Jermuk Branch of the Armenian Red Cross • Caps, T-shirts, and other clothing with Jermuk on it. • Postcards and posters • Local crafts: Wood crafts and cut stone. Carpets made a local carpet factory. A mini Vernissage in the mountains. • Local produce: honey and herbs • Agricultural Products from region, such as goat cheese from USDA Yerginotizor Arid Goat center. The marketing department of the USDA Yerevan office is also working on selling the cheese generated at the center in the local town, Yerevan, and overseas. They contracted with a local pottery works to make several sizes of small clay urns to store the cheese in. They are decorated with a primitive goat motif and sealed with a wax plug. I was thinking they could sell some to tourists in Jermuk during the tourist season. Try: www.usda.am • Book stand: hiking guide, wildflower guide, tourist info, and regional info • A model of the hot water gallery made of tuff stone and sold one of the hotels.

Sanatoriums • Marketing, what cliental • Organization, still based on outdated Soviet type business plans • Refurnishing

Water bottling Factories • Three or four maybe more factories • The main source of year round employment for population • Tours maybe possible

Carpet Factory in Left Bank • Handwork all done by women • A round $150 a square foot

Transportation • Taxis, buses, and vans • Buses are all Soviet era and chance it every time the climb the hill from Vike to Jermuk • Vans are Russian and only have one a day except during summer, must call ahead to buy tickets

Movie Theaters and Auditoriums • Several Auditoriums in Jermuk • Unused and in poor condition

Airport and Runway • Built by Soviets • Two kilometers

• on the Arpa River. • A guy named Arnold runs it and charges about 8 dollars a kilogram of a fish that looks like rainbow trout. • The farm is up the valley from the town, • during Soviet times it was large operation with twenty or thirty pools around 4x20 meters each, with a small lake. • Currently only one of the pools has fish and only about five or six of the pool look operational.

• One Soviet era art collection or “museum” • Not economically viable • Permanent collection vs. Retail

• A cultural center • Traditional music and building…like colonial Williamsburg • A school for foreigners to learn the traditional Armenian arts, painting miniatures, carving kharcars, making jewelry, painting. • Similar one in Vike

Agricultural Technologies • USDA MAP project • Garden plots around apartments, are not zoned or monitored • Gndevaz, local agricultural center produces much for Jermuk.


IV. Recreational Development

I have grouped different types of recreation into three groups based on environmental and economic impact.

• Biking (spring, summer, fall), Ideal!!! Rolling hills and plateau. There are spectacular views from almost every location on the high land. There are many Jeep trails to follow and few fences or farms. Locations: Hills to the northwest of Jermuk offer great opportunities with their gentle yet undulating terrain.

• Snow shoeing and Cross-country skiing (winter) Heavy snow fall in the area makes it ideal for winter trekking. • Hiking and Camping (all seasons) In the areas to the north and south of Jermuk there is beautiful undeveloped wilderness. The only people who frequent the area are summer herders. There are good water sources along streams. In canyons and ravines there are many potential protected campsites. With such up obstructed views it is hard to miss the many species of wildlife and plant life. • Kite boarding on snow and water (all seasons) I think this will work well on snow in the winter. I am not sure about contamination level of the reservoir to be able to swim in it.

Moderate impact: require a more development and would probably have to be run by businesses, if individuals didn’t have gear. May need to be regulated. • Sports shooting (all seasons) Graws and pheasant are numerous. Wild pigs are also common • Horseback riding (summer tourist season) Examples of rides: Down the Arpa valley from Gndevaz village to visit the Vak. Up to the high plateau to visit the hot springs distinct from the town. • Paragliding (year round) a hot dry wind generally blows up the Arpa valley from the desert daily. There are several almost treeless hills that rise abruptly around five hundred feet next an old two kilometer aircraft landing strip. • Kayaking and rafting (tourist season) I haven’t thoroughly scouted the Arpa River but it appears that the river is quite boulder choked and therefore would be only runnable but expert kayakers. The wastewater from the whole town of Jermuk enters directly into the river. Beyond the dam new construction of a pipeline on the old Jermuk road has caused the river to be filled with scree causing serious blockage and visual destruction. In places it no longer looks like a river canyon but gravel piles. • Bungee jumping (tourist season) The over to three hundred foot drop from this metal arch would make a compelling leap. I wonder if it has been tried in the Caucasus region before

High Impact: Heavy infrastructure development and investment, expensive equipment • Downhill skiing, snowboarding (winter and spring) Huge investment and not sustainable unless community is dependent on it? • SUV and Jeep trails (all year) Terribly destructive to the environment, especially alpine meadows

1. Providing tourists with hiking/skiing information, if they have their own equipment 2. Providing equipment and guides for tourists for a cost that would help support the red cross’s continued operation

Sport and Recreation Stores Necessary?

V. Innovative Alternative Energy Technologies

Current Situation: Unlike much of the rest of Armenia’s cities, the info structure for central heating generally remains. The pipes and radiators remain because the central heating stations recently shut down. Gas Pipes, Electric Transmission Lines:

• One station is operating currently • Using old Soviet equipment with little or no safety practices • These a really popular PC projects in mountainous developing countries. • I saw several in Nepal that were powering villages, they are about the size of a washing machine or smaller.

Hydrothermal Option • Has hydrothermal Power been explored? • What investment does this require? • Where has this been used successfully? Iceland ? • They say the only solution to decentralizing the heating in Armenia is running natural gas to every house and apartment. • This has created a mess of pipes running above ground everywhere in Armenia. The Armenians don’t like to bury any of there utilities outside of central Yerevan.


Roofs of building?? Intense UV in and a lot of sunny days

Thermal Curtains and other insulation

VI. Funding Sourcing

• National Government: • Municipal Government: Selling most of town property to private investors • International NGOs • Diaspora Community Members • Community donations

Glendale and Washington DC As you know there is a huge Armenian population in Glendale, LA, over a million, many first generation. I was thinking about sending several flyers out to my uncle to put up in various health spas, gyms, and sports equipment shops. Armenian Americans could donate their old equipment to the Peace Corps to help Jermuk, the primer outdoor destination in Armenia.

Jeffery, Armenian Forests, gets a lot of donations shipped over through a Diaspora organization in Yerevan that specializes in shipping donated items. I will learn more about it. I will come up with a draft of a flyer and maybe a PowerPoint explaining what Jermuk is.


Etymology

“Jer” in Armenian means a spring

Presence of NGOs

Jermuk Branch of the Armenian Red Cross:

1. Extracurricular activities for children and adults, First Aid education, outdoor recreation and environmental education. Examples: helping plant trees with the Armenian Forests, and getting cloth bags as an option in stores around Jermuk.

2. Write several grants, example: Eurasia Foundation, to update the offices and pay the rent.

3. Meet with Yerevan office to see what types of profit generation activities are expectable, to support the office

4. Get a calendar of activities planned throughout the year.


Education

Transportation

Thank god there is a new bus!!!!

From Yerevan to Jermuk

The nonstop marshooti service runs daily at 3pm, from the Kilka bus station, accessible by 77 and 68 and 101 Yerevan town marshooti. Be early as space is often hard to find. Bus Cost: 2,000 Dram

From Sevan, Martuni, and Lake Region to Jermuk

It maybe more cost effective to take a cab from the lake region down the Selim pass road from Martuni to Yeghegnadzor. About 8,000 Dram

From Yeghegnadzor/Vike to Jermuk

The bus to Jermuk runs daily from Yeghegnadzor 2pm Mon thru Sat and 4pm on Sunday. The bus trip takes approximately two hours in good conditions. Yeghegnadzor is about twenty minutes from Vike via Malishka

Bus: Yeghegnadzor to Jermuk: 700 Dram Bus: Vike to Jermuk: 500 Dram Taxi from Vike to Jermuk: 4,000 to 6,000 Dram

Accommodations

Prices for rented apartments in Jermuk

Weather

Past volunteers

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