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GA English on Sunday : News in Brief from Bonn and the region

GA English on Sunday : News in Brief from Bonn and the region

Farewell to Bonn’s Mayor Sridharan, new pedestrian bridge to be installed at train station, referendum to be held on housing development at Melbbad and Bonn students set up bike delivery company for local organic produce - here is our news in brief on Sunday.

Sridharan bids farewell as Dörner is to be sworn in

Bonn. On his final days in office, Bonn's Mayor Ashok Sridharan said farewell to the staff of the municipal authorities by video. "I am proud to have been your mayor," said Sridharan. He thanked the staff for the good working relationship over the past five years, and said that they had shown “commitment, motivation and competence for the benefit of Bonn's citizens". Although mistakes were sometimes made, he said, on the whole, excellent work was being done.

He also met his successor Katja Dörner at the Stadthaus on Friday. "I wish you and the council all the best", he said, "and also you personally good luck in taking up your duties and for the future". Her term of office begins on 1st November. On her first working day on Monday, following a discussion with the staff council, the new mayor would like to meet as many employees as possible in person at the Stadthaus during a tour of the building. In the afternoon, she will receive the lists of signatures for the petition "Radentscheid Bonn" (which is campaigning for a better infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians in the city).

Dörner will be sworn in and formerly introduced to her office at the constituent meeting of the council on Thursday 5th November at 6pm in the Brückenforum in Beuel. If there are no objections, the council meeting will be broadcast live on the city’s YouTube channel.

(Original text: oni)

New pedestrian bridge at train station

Bonn. In November, the city will be installing a new pedestrian bridge between the multi-storey car park on Rabinstraße and platform 1 of the central railway station. The municipal authorities advise that Herwarthstraße is to be closed for five days to allow for the pre-fabricated components to be lifted and assembled.

Running parallel to the existing railway bridge over Herwarthstraße, the new pedestrian bridge will provide a direct, accessible connection between the central railway station, the new multi-storey car park with the planned bike park, the tram and bus stops on Thomas-Mann-Straße and all the bus, tram and bus stops in the area in front of the station.

Following completion of the abutments, the civil engineering office will have the bridge lifted in the second week of November. For this purpose, Herwarthstraße will be completely closed from Monday, 9th November until Friday, 13th November. Shortly beforehand, special vehicles will transport the pre-fabricated steel construction to Herwarthstraße. From there, a 180-tonne mobile crane will take over the load, which weighs around twelve tonnes. During a track closure arranged by the Deutsche Bahn, the crane will lift the bridge directly into its final position on Monday, 9th November, between 8am and 4pm.

Due to the size of the overall construction, the load-bearing steel arch will be delivered separately and only welded to the substructure on site. In the meantime, the bridge will rest on auxiliary supports so that it will only be possible to drive on one side of Herwarthstraße from Friday, 13th November, to Monday, 23rd November. Traffic lights will regulate the flow of vehicles. The work should be completed by mid-December 2020.

(Original text: buj)

Referendum to be held on controversial housing development near Melbbad

Bonn. Next week the municipal authorities will be sending out voting documents for a local referendum on whether 85 subsidised appartments will be built on Trierer Straße - the controversial development at the edge of the Melbbad in Poppelsdorf. The completed documents must be returned by 27th November. The referendum calls upon the around 249,000 Bonn residents, aged 16 and above, to answer the question: “Should the Melbbad remain in its current form without a residential development?” (In German: „Soll das Melbbad in seiner jetzigen Form ohne eine Wohnbebauung erhalten bleiben?“) If a majority votes in favour of keeping the Melbbad in its current form, and this majority represents at least ten percent of those eligible to vote (around 25,000), this would be a success for the “Save the Melbbad” campaign.

What are the plans? A majority in the council, consisting of CDU, SPD and Greens, wants to sell a plot of land on the edge of the Melbbad on Trierer Straße to the municipal housing company Vebowag. Following public criticism of the initiative, Vebowag has had the plans revised. The body of the building has been rotated slightly and moved 20 metres closer to the swimming pool. A canopy has been added on the lowest floor for sound proofing. The building, which now houses 85 subsidised apartments, will be up to 21.95 metres high, 114 metres long and 16 metres wide. The heights are staggered, with two to six residential floors on the bathroom side and less on the Trier street due to the hillside location. The basement will house changing rooms, showers and catering facilities for swimming pool visitors. The façade and roofs are to be planted with greenery or equipped with solar panels.

The CDU, SPD and Greens have asked Vebowag to allow low-income employees of the university hospitals, such as trainees, part-time workers and single parents, to live there. In a joint press release on Friday, the above-mentioned party fractions, the Tenants' Association, the German Trade Union Federation and the University Hospital in Bonn all campaigned for a "no" vote in the referendum. “Under the motto “Action not clapping”, it is time to make affordable housing available to everyone in Bonn who is currently working so hard to look after our health.”

What is being criticised? In principle, the “Save the Melbbad” campaign is advocating that the Melbbad should be preserved as a "green oasis". However, a large part of the area has already been sealed off due to the dilapidated existing functional building. Newly constructed sanitary facilities are needed even without the residential building. The city’s cost estimate provided in response to a request by the GA: 1.5 million euros. The campaign has expressed doubts about the reports published by Vebowag on the air conditioning, shading and noise. Around 50 members of the campaign demonstrated in Bonn city centre on Saturday afternoon, gathering in front of Poppelsdorf Schloss and marching in protest towards Münsterplatz. The protest remained peaceful with no incidents, according to the police.

When asked about the negotiations on the purchase price of the land, Deputy City Spokesman Marc Hoffmann stated that the municipal authorities could not provide any information for reasons of confidentiality. According to GA information, Vebowag would probably be prepared, as things stand at present, to pay a high six-figure sum to the town after deducting the costs of building the foundations on a slope. However, the city would have to take over the basement with the functional rooms again. Vebowag plans to invest around 15 million euros in the residential building at the Melbbad. The “Save the Melbbad” campaign complains about a lack of transparency regarding the investment required by the city in comparison to constructing new functional rooms.

(Original texts: Philipp Königs / Dierk Himstedt)

Bonn students deliver organic produce by bike

Bonn. Students Paul Schwarzelühr, Marlene Koch, Alicia Wiegand, Jonathan Kümmerle, Malika Uhlmann and Estella Cron founded their own cargo bike company in May 2020 during the Corona pandemic. They named the company "Himmel un Ääd" (literal translation Heaven and Earth), which means they are just as down-to-earth and regional as the traditional Rhineland dish consisting of blood sausage, mashed potatoes and apple sauce.

The six fellow students and friends enjoy healthy, regional food and appreciate the fact that it keeps CO2 emissions as low as possible, avoids long delivery routes and provides fair working conditions. Jonathan Kümmerle explains that they had not planned to create their own company. "When the Corona pandemic began, we wanted to support people who were unable or unwilling to go shopping themselves for health reasons and to supply them with regional food," the 24-year-old explains.

For Kümmerle and his business partners, good and healthy food is a "basic need" and part of a good attitude to life and so they focused on supplying organic goods direct from the farm, which they wanted to deliver by bike. The whole project was to take three months as they were all studying for a BA in sustainable economics at the Alanus University in Alfter; they did not really have any time to set up a company. But then, during his internship semester in Hamburg, Kümmerle met someone who wanted to set up exactly such a delivery service for regional organic food. "I was asked to join the business. But in Hamburg. However, I wanted to go back to Bonn and so the idea was born to offer such a delivery service in the two cities of Bonn and Cologne," Kümmerle continues.

At first it was not so easy due to a lack of money and contacts. Then they became aware of the Regionalwert AG Rheinland, who supported the six founders and gave them advice. The Regionalwert AG Rheinland is a public limited company that supports sustainable and organic agriculture, but also industry sectors involved in further processing, with money from its shareholders. "This enabled us to make our initial investments like purchasing a freezer, creating the website and dealing with administrative matters," says Kümmerle.

Since then, the founders of "Himmel un Ääd" have been delivering fresh goods directly from their partner companies to their customers. Their radius is large. In Bonn, households are supplied from the north to the south up to Godesberg, and Beuel is also included in the delivery zone. The aim is to supply the entire city by cargo bike at some point. "But there are also customers who pick up their goods themselves.” For example, at the Academy for International Education. Every Friday between 3pm and 6pm, customers can collect their goods themselves after placing an order.

Business is running and the demand is there. Now they want to expand and gain a foothold as a bike logistics company. To do so, they need a larger cargo bike, which they hope to finance using crowdfunding via the startnext platform and aim to raise 3500 euros. So far, with just under three weeks to go, they have only reached half this amount. But the founders are confident that they are on the right track and that there are enough people who share their vision of sustainable business. More information about the project can be found at www.startnext.com under “Himmel un Ääd”. The website is available in German and English.

(Original text: Susanne Wächter)

(Translations: Caroline Kusch)