The mood on Straßmannstraße in Friedrichshain was good on Monday evening. At 25 degrees and sunshine, two new parklets were inaugurated here and on Petersburger Platz.
As part of a funding program by the Berlin Senate Department for Mobility and the Environment, around 65 additional pieces of street furniture are to be built by mid-2022. In addition to Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, the districts of Mitte and Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf are also currently involved.
According to the Senate administration, the conversion of the park areas should create new meeting places in the neighborhood and support coexistence in the neighborhoods. The state provides an average of 3100 euros per parklet.
“Berlin is a city that lives from the neighborhoods,” said mobility senator Bettina Jarasch from the Greens at the inauguration ceremony on Monday. “We want to build up a bit of Bullerbü here. But we can’t do it from above.” Instead, the program relies on citizen participation.
Clubs and local residents’ initiatives can apply for the funding. In cooperation with the Berlin 21 and Naturfreunde e.V. associations, modular components were created that can be individually arranged depending on the location. The construction then takes place within the framework of joint workshops in the Dragoon area in Kreuzberg.
At Straßmannstraße 17, the “Komm Rum” association had applied for funding. Komm Rum is committed to the destigmatization of mental illnesses and operates, among other things, a contact and advice center. “It is very important for us to have an impact on the social areas and to bring our concerns to the streets,” says Managing Director Michael Webers.
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The Parklet is particularly popular with students from the school for social affairs across the street. “The students sit out here during breaks. There is a lively exchange and a good mix with the neighbors.”
But there are always residents who complain. Especially in the evenings, the parklet is used by visitors and young people who would drink their beer here and sometimes be louder. “It’s just part of it. You have to understand that we are still in the Friedrichshain neighborhood, this is not Zehlendorf.” It can also get louder in the evenings on Simon-Dach-Strasse.
A local residents’ initiative from Richard-Sorge-Strasse also had to contend with headwinds. Two years ago they initiated a play street and wanted to add a parklet to it. The owners of a neighboring nail salon found it difficult to deliver goods. Others complained about the lack of parking spaces in the neighborhood.
However, most of the residents have gotten used to the parklet and would like to come there. “During the week, there are mainly individual visitors who sit there to read. In the evening there are always larger groups. The children especially like to play there, so of course you have to be careful,” says one of the residents.
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It is important that there is a permanent contact person from the clubs and initiatives who undertakes to take care of the care and use of the parklet. Otherwise, the Friends of Nature association is liable for the project from an insurance point of view. The parklets are made of ecological building materials and, in addition to seating, usually offer integrated raised beds that need to be planted and cared for.
Despite the controversy for and against Parklets, the inauguration on Monday evening went very smoothly. Critical voices were not heard here. In addition to Mobility Senator Jarasch and Transport Councilor Annika Gerold from the Greens, the representatives of the clubs involved were present.
The response from the around 40 residents present was consistently positive, many support the project or had already participated in the project themselves.