Bonn The new building at the Melbbad remains a provocative subject. The council's decision will probably be followed by a citizens' petition, organised by the initiative "Save the Melbbad".
The planned construction of a residential complex at Melbbad in Poppelsdorf has been under criticism for months. The construction is too high, its opponents say, so that it would cast a shadow over the pool. The "Save the Melbbad" critics of the initiative also complained that the building is too close to the pool. Vebowag then changed the construction plan, reduced the floor space and planned to move the building slightly further away from the pool. Since 29 June, the plans are publicly accessible on the homepage of Vebowag. The initiative is now endeavouring to call for a citizens' petition.
The changes to the plans did not appease the group "Save the Melbbad". "Our concerns have by no means been allayed", Helga Effelsberg of the initiative told the General-Anzeiger. "The project is highly questionable." After all, neither the sale price of the land nor the residual costs incurred have been determined. "The costs are expected to be very high, because it is a very demanding building site on a slope," Effelsberg says. "And assuming construction of the building shell would go ahead without any problems, the city would have to buy back the pool’s functional rooms. According to Effelsberg, these costs have not yet been determined either. The initiative would prefer to see only the functional rooms of the pool renovated. "These are manageable costs. A sauna could be added to the low-rise building."
■ Donation to the city?: An information event for the public took place on 26 June, which was also broadcast on the Internet. At the event, one participant stated that the Melbbad property was a donation from the 1960s. According to the argumentation of the initiative, the city had to check first whether a planned development and a partial sale to Vebowag was compatible with the donation and legally permissible. The press office of the city said on request: "From the Melbbad acquisition file, which is kept in the city archives, it is clear that the city bought the open-air swimming pool in 1956 from private ownership; it is not a gift. Regulations that the (partial) resale should be inadmissible were not agreed in the purchase contract, nor were regulations regarding the intended purpose, according to the city.
■ Alternative location in Ippendorf: The planned apartments are primarily intended for the employees of the university hospital. The initiative believes that there are more suitable alternatives. For example, the former diplomatic school in Ippendorf, which has been vacant for some time. "This would be the ideal location for the hospital's employees," says Effelsberg, where they could live there close to the clinic. The city's statement on this is: "Exchanging the diplomatic school for living at Melbbad is not a solution from the point of view of the city of Bonn". Housing is urgently needed in the whole city, so that every possible development must be carefully examined and realised. Last but not least, the diplomatic school is not for sale by the Bima (Bundesanstalt für Immobilienaufgaben).
■ Cold-air streams in the Melbtal: Another point of contention is the cold-air streams in the Melbtal. The initiative writes in its press release: "According to experts, the residents of Trier Street will have to live with a reduction in cold-air flow by over ten per cent. This is - despite the declared climate emergency - officially considered to be minor. The city also sees this point differently: "This statement does not reflect the overall result of the expert opinion." In the expert opinion, the PeutzConsult office commissioned by Vebowag rather came to the conclusion that a reduction of the cold air volume flow on the one side would be opposed by an equally large increase on the other.
■ Noise pollution: If a building is erected in the immediate vicinity of the Melbbad, which at its closest point it is 20 metres away, the initiative fears noise complaints and in the worst case, even the closure of the open-air swimming pool. After all, the planned residents of the building are employees of the university hospital, and their recreation is not irrelevant for health care. However, the city refers here to a noise report that "was examined by the Higher Environmental Authority at the district government and found to be correct". Markus Schmitz from the press office said: "Many construction projects are approved on the basis of expert opinions in order to determine their legal admissibility, for example with regard to noise". A permit or a positive preliminary decision must then be issued, because the applicant has a legal claim to it.
■ Citizens' petition: Two weeks’ ago, the initiative announced a citizens' petition to Mayor Ashok Sridharan and asked the mayor for a timely cost estimate by the end of July. On Saturday, 1 August, the initiative wants to start collecting signatures for its petition. A period of three months is planned for this.
(Original text, Thomas Leurs; translation John Chandler)