Got some change for the Mauerpark?

On a Monday morning following a nice and sunny weekend in Berlin, the Mauerpark in Berlin-Pankow rather resembles a garbage dump than a green park area.
Every weekend, the ‘festival vibe’ in and around the Mauerpark – thanks to the popular flea market, lots of musicians, artists, the karaoke…- attracts ten thousands of visitors.
Who then in turn leave a sea of plastic dishes, empty beverage cartons and crown caps.

About 100 000 € does the district Pankow spend every year exclusively for the waste collection and removal at the Mauerpark, which extends on a comparably small area of 8 hectares between Prenzlauer Berg and Wedding.

Given that in fact the district is not able to afford the removal of 3.5 tons of waste every Monday at the Mauerpark, the responsible politicians now want tourists and residents to contribute to the costs.

Ticket machines set up at the entrances of the park shall enable visitors to pay an ‘entry fee’ of 1 € which than goes into the financing of the waste collection.
All on a pure voluntary basis.

Pankow’s district councilor Jens-Holger Kirchner (Greens) supports this approach. He sees 1€ as a reasonable amount that does not push people’s budget to the limits.
Still, he states this little contribution could make a big difference: If only every 10th of the 50 000 visitors every weekend would donate 1€, this would be sufficient to cover the majority of the waste removal costs.

The importance of a new financing for the waste collection at the Mauerpark becomes imminent if one takes a look at the greater picture in Pankow:
Every 8th Euro designed for public green spaces in Pankow accounts for the costs the Mauerpark causes – even though the popular meeting and mingling point only takes up a 1/600 of all green areas in the district.
Consequently, other parks, playgrounds, cemeteries often are neglected.

The idea of ticket machines to acquire additional money has its origin in Blankenfelde.
In October 2011 a ticket machine was put up at the Botanic Garden Blankenfelde-Pankow which is operated by the Grün Berlin Park und Garten GmbH owned by the Land Berlin. Since then, 8000€ of entry fees have been accumulated.

According to Kirchner, visitors embraced this approach in a positive manner. That is why he thinks it is worth a try to adopt this system at Mauerpark.
Voices coming from the CDU as well as the SPD support Kirchner’s proceeding.

Roland Schröder (SPD) underlines:

“The Mauerpark is one of the most used public green spaces in whole Berlin. Those who use it intensively might as well contribute to its maintenance.”

Johannes Kraft (CDU) also expresses a favorable opinion. Given that no one is forced to pay anything, he supports the idea.

Nevertheless, the association “Freunde des Mauerparks” is not in line with the opinions expressed by the responsible politicians.
Member of the association Alexander von Puell considers the district to be heading in a completely wrong direction.
He believes the Land Berlin to be responsible to contribute to the cost the district incurs, not the visitors.
On weekends the vast majority of the visitors aren’t Pankow residents, as he points out..
Consequently, he states:

“If the park is used supra-regional, it needs to be financed supra-regional.”

In any case, if Pankow would indeed set up ticket machines next spring, it would be the first district to do so. Up until today only the above mentioned Grün Berlin Park und Garten GmbH makes use of this system.

Personally, I support the idea of encouraging visitors to contribute to the maintenance of the park with a small donation.
I am convinced that a 1€ donation every 3rd or 4th time visiting the park won’t do anyone harm, not even us chronically broke students. I’d rather do without another beer or soda and instead donate the money if in return I could enjoy a cleaner area.
Moreover, I believe that tourist might be also keen to pay the ‘fee’ if the entry ticket they received was nicely designed.
After all, the Mauerpark is one of THE hot-spots in Berlin, so an entry ticket could be a nice souvenir.

However, I do also think that lack of money is not the only issue regarding the waste problem at the Mauerpark.
As a matter of fact, there are simply not enough garbage bins in and around the Mauerpark.

Past 11 o’clock on a weekend the bins start overflowing and mountains of waste piles up around them.
Of course there are always some who are just too lazy to collect and dispose of their waste.
Nonetheless, I am certain that if there were sufficient bins to properly dispose of the garbage, the Mauerpark wouldn’t look as bad on a Monday morning as it does now.

Now, what do you think?

Would you be willing to donate a couple of Euros towards the maintenance of the Mauerpark? Or do you think that’s an issue the district Pankow or the Land Berlin is responsible for and they shouldn’t be bothering the visitors?

I’m curious to hear what you have to say regarding this issue.
Because after all – we all are very fond of the Mauerpark, aren’t we?

P.S.: If you want you can also take part in the online poll regarding this matter via http://www.tagesspiegel.de/berlin/bezirk-setzt-auf-spenden-ein-euro-fuer-den-mauerpark/6747180.html.

Here are the results as of Saturday, June 16, 12pm

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5 responses to “Got some change for the Mauerpark?

  1. I agree that contributing €1 now and again won’t break the bank but I also agree that there aren’t enough bins currently and this contributes to the problem. People see an apparent mound of rubbish forming at the bins and start their own. The council complained that the organisers of the Bearpit Karaoke weren’t doing enough to reduce the rubbish left but they need to take a long hard look at themselves!

  2. Hey Fenja,
    you have chosen an important topic. I like your post. It’s clear and understandable. In Berlin we’ve a lot of parks. I know some parks like the Britzer Garten where you have to pay an entry fee. So therefore the park is very clean (no garbage). Everbody who wants to use the park should pay an entry fee. This will improve the state budget deficits of Berlin and the citizens will have a clean environment. My suggestion is to offer a special admission ticket which you can apply for all parks in and around Berlin. This regulation could improve the situation of all parks in Berlin.
    You have written again an interesting post which I enjoyed by reading. Thanks.

  3. Hej Fenja! I totally agree with your opinion, however I am a little scared that this “voluntary donation” becomes the rule and in the end the tax payer is asked to maintain the places he likes himself, as taxes do not. [a far related example might be the tuition fees, that are luckily abolished again.] you said that “Every 8th Euro designed for public green spaces in Pankow accounts for the costs the Mauerpark causes – even though the popular meeting and mingling point only takes up a 1/600 of all green areas in the district.” This is dramatic, I agree, but Mauerpark also generates more profit than other parks do: I asked myself what happened to the profit generated by the booth fees. Can’t they be used for the disposal of all the rubbish?

  4. Well done, Fenja!
    I think you presented some really nice and understandable points for introducing a ticket machine in the Mauerpark. I really like the voluntariness of the idea as well as the tourist perspective: As the Mauerpark is one of the hotspots for young, alternative tourists in Berlin, I guess that you are right when saying that they would be attracted by nicely designed tickets from the machine as a kind of proof of having been to a cool place.
    Me too, I would also donate 1€ for relaxing in a clean parc.
    As long this ideas stays on a voluntary basis, I think we needn’t worry.But if it becomes obligatory, we should become attentive and try to avoid the exploitation of tourists as well as of Berlin’s citizens.

    Anyhow, you did a great job and it was a pleasure to read a post that gets away from the ordinary idea of “money making” as an aim in itself but just as a means to protect a wonderful location.

  5. Hey Fenja,

    I have to admit that even though I moved here almost a year ago, I still haven’t made it to the Mauerpark.. 😀 Anywho, waste is a huge problem in any park and the question of who is responsible hard to answer. Since buying a ticket would not be an obligation, I think there’s no harm in giving it a try. However, once this would be established, the step from a voluntary donation towards a real entrance fee would suddenly become an option..

    I loved that you didn’t only include the opinion of politicians, but also came up with your own idea, that by the way is an extremely good one, about the “cool” ticket – I would buy one if I were a tourist.
    As I said, I’ve never been to the Mauerpark, but reading the other comments as well, it seems obvious that there is a relatively simple way of reducing the waste: more bins. So maybe this one-time investment is more important than a voluntary ticket machine.

    To your post itself: I liked the flow of it, it was very easy to read and full of personal experience. You managed to combine professional opinions with your own view. I only have one thing to criticize: Personally, I think that your post could have been shorter because no matter how interesting the topic is, most people have a very short concentration span. Other than that, great job!

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