Bonn After meetings behind closed doors, 92 randomly selected members of the Bonn public have presented the city with their report. Now the administrators and politicians have to deal with it.
The swimming pools’ report is now available, the content of which 92 randomly selected members of the Bonn public worked on for eight days in September. On Thursday evening, the members of these study groups handed it over to Lord Mayor Ashok Sridharan in the Beuel Brückenforum.
Sridharan stressed that administrators and politicians would now intensively study the 132-page report: "We will not only read it carefully in the administration, but also bring it to political consultation," said Sridharan. He was sure that it would be "a good foundation" as a basis for decisions on the future of the Bonn bathing landscape.
The key messages
The planning groups dealt with the subject matter, visited existing baths and interviewed more than 30 experts from politics, administration, but also from other areas. Following a majority decision, the city’s politicians commissioned the Association of Citizen Juries in Munich to carry out the report. The presented report summarises the findings of most of the areas. The participants were able to award their important recommendations with points: there was a particularly high agreement in favour of maintaining decentralised pools that are accessible to all.
Existing pools are particularly suitable for this. All open-air swimming pools should be kept, with one indoor swimming pool per district "specialised for different user groups" being desirable. Hardtberg could especially appeal to families (with modernisation of the fun pool), Beueler Bütt could focus on school and club swimming, the Bonn borough could serve as a sport and competition site and Bad Godesberg could specialise in health and fitness. It would be desirable to have more attractive facilities with waterfalls, slides or wellness areas and longer opening hours. As a guideline, they suggested increasing the available water area as much as possible. Affordable prices played a secondary role in the decisions. The standard equipment of an indoor pool should include a 25-metre pool, a multi-purpose pool and a teaching pool as well as a toddler area, access for the disabled and a diving platform.
Concrete proposals for existing swimming pools
The expert swimming pools’ report shows that the Bad Godesberg district needs its own indoor swimming pool. This could be built on the existing site (the closed Kurfürstenbad) or as a new-build on the Rigal'schen Meadow. The exact location could be clarified by a referendum. The car park on the meadow had already been mentioned by the mayor before the public participation began. The renovation of the Hardtbergbad (so far the only multi-purpose swimming pool in Bonn) should take place as soon as possible, so that the pool could be used again in the summer of 2022. For the district of Beuel, the idea was to renovate or modernise the Beueler Bütt on the same site or to erect a multi-purpose pool on the Ennertbad site. The report recommends that the Frankenbad, which is listed as an historical monument, should be preserved as a "central pool" for the Bonn district – and should be either renovated or a new building should be built on the same site. However, the report also suggests a multi-purpose pool on the site of today's Römerbad as an option.
The recommendations of the planning groups show that an (additional) sports pool in Dottendorf would be conceivable, because sports facilities already exist there. At this site, the municipal utilities were to construct the new multi-purpose pool proposed by Lord Mayor Sridharan and approved by the majority of the Council, which was finally stopped by a referendum. Further recommendations: the Sportpark Nord swimming pool should be open to the public; at the moment, it is reserved for club members of the SSF Bonn. As far as financing is concerned, a new building would be preferable if it were cheaper, including operating costs (i.e. including energy efficiency), for its calculated life expectancy than the existing building. This would only be feasible if reliable data on the old building materials were available.
To make longer opening hours in Bonn's swimming pools possible, the city would have to step up its efforts to find staff and invest more in their training. The issue of financing was also one that the reviewers criticised in their evaluation. Many participants lacked current, reliable figures on the renovation backlog, which are not available in their entirety because the last expert report on swimming pools was several years’ ago.
The next steps
The citizen's report will now be aired in political committees. It was always clear that the report was not binding and that it was ultimately up to the politicians to decide. The local politicians will also have to deal with the citizens’ report "Save the Bonn swimming culture". The initiators Anja Niemeier and Axel Bergfeld announced the findings of the report on Thursday, according to Bonn deputy spokesman Marc Hoffmann. The initiative wants to collect signatures for the renovation and modernisation of the existing indoor swimming pools in Bonn. The city is going to transfer the closed Bad Godesberger Kurfürstenbad for one symbolic euro to an association in the process of being founded, which will reopen it later.
(Original text; Philipp Königs, translation John Chandler)