Though the Integrationswerkstatt normally only makes the press locally, we’ve translated many of the top stories for you.
Check out our stories from SWR (SouthWest Broadcast), the Rhein Zeitung and the General Anzeiger in the press corner.
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SWR-Interview by Barbara Brüggemann:
Guests are Detlev Cosler, Zacchary Gallant and Karsten Fehr (Lord Mayor of Unkel)
A 25.000 square-meter green space in the middle of the city. That’s how large to former swimming pool space in Unkel is. One can no longer swim there, because the local government doesn’t want to pay for it. But a Community Initiative now has another idea: they favor a Public Park. Great Idea, think many. But not all! A quick sale of the space threatens to undermine these plans. SWR Reporter Bärbel Brüggmann reports:
Brüggmann: Birds tweeting, and the ‘vroom’ of the nearby motorway are the current reigning background noise at Unkel’s former swimming pool space. Detlev Cosler of the Citizen’s Initiative Gemeinsam fuer Vielfalt [Together for Diversity] would rather hear the laughter of children again on the space.
Cosler: My children used to play in the swimming pool here. If this space is sold off, all of that would be lost to so many Unkelers.
Brüggmann: In order to prevent this from happening, Cosler founded this Public Park Initiative together with the American and Unkeler-by-choice Zachary Gallant [edit from Integrationswerkstatt: along with a dozen other Unkel residents!]. Their goal is a meetingplace for all, also between ‘natives’ and migrants.
Gallant: [It’s fantastic] that there is such a green space where folks can come together to play sports, to eat, to drink a coffee, and also to work, and create friendships through these common activities and meetings.
Brüggmann: There’s already a Workshop-Café on the space where people can repair their own bikes, hang out and get to know one another. Therefore the citizen’s initiative had hoped that their other plans such as a bocce/boule ground could be realized. But that stopped suddenly as an offer by an Unkel business to buy the space seemed much more appealing to some of the Municipal Council’s CDU members. That also surprised the Municipality’s party-less Mayor Fehr.
Fehr: The space is around 25,000 square meters. One must also point at that nothing can be built there as it lies in a flood zone. The price that was offered comes to around 5€ per square meter, 125,000€.
Brüggmann: 125,000€ really won’t rehabilitate a community that is millions in debt, says Fehr. The government head is decidedly against the sale of the space, also as the space actually belongs to the City of Unkel and was only taken over cost-free by the Municipality due to the construction of the swimming pool. The City of Unkel has therefore petitioned that the space be returned to City ownership.
Fehr: I find it only right to return this City property for free to the City. I find commercializing this space for private interests shabby.
Brüggmann: The Municipal Council will decide on the return of the space at the end of June. Until then, Detlev Cosler and his citizen’s initiative and making their case with an online petition, that this Green Space of Unkel won’t be turned into a gravel parking lot for a shopping center.