No budget, no hurry, no say?

Monday this week (28th October, 2013) saw the 12th so-called “Stadtgespräch” to discuss the re-development of the area around the station in Oberursel and the joining up of the Nassauer Straße and the Weingärtenumgehung – the main road in from Bad Homburg in the North to the by-pass in the South.

It was not the most well visited of gatherings.  In fact, considering the amount of press coverage that it had had advance and the number of local residents affected by the plans, one might almost ask where they all were.  Including the organisers, there were only 13 people attending!

The evening started with one of them, Georg Herzan, reporting on the recent “Round Table” discussions with local political groups, showing photos of the affected area and talking about the noise pollution problem.  He was followed by Bernd Peppler who brought everyone up to speed with background information and what had happened so far in the process.

As the discussion got underway, one of the main questions being asked was how the project was to be financed.  The question may well have come up due to an article the week before in the Taunus Zeitung, in which representatives of the local political parties had criticised the plans worked out by the “BrunnenTreff” forum group as being too expensive.

Those present wanted to know how the town’s administration was planning to finance its own plans, given that the town is subject to tight spending rules at present.

Luckily the chairman of the local association of business owners (Fokus O), Michael Reuter, was on hand to answer that and other questions.  He himself is a councillor for the CDU party and had been interviewed for the article.

He explained that the re-development plans would be financed by building on land that the town had purchased from the railway, although a budget had yet to be worked out.  He highlighted the importance of the Nassauer Straße as the main road from Bad Homburg to Oberursel.

“The majority of the traffic from Bad Homburg on the Nassauer [Straße] wants to go to Oberursel, Kronberg or Oberhöchstadt.  Fokus O wants this traffic”, he said.

He also suggested that linking up with the bypass would allow people from the Zimmersmühlen industrial area to go into the town more easily on their lunch break.

As he had previously stated to the Taunus Zeitung, his main issue with the BrunnenTreff solution was how the traffic from the Feldbergstraße would enter the Nassauer Straße if this was lowered into a trough.  However he also agreed that much of the discussion about the BrunnenTreff solution was about the cost, although he himself found that there were some good elements in it that he would like to see in the final plans that the town draws up.  In particular he mentioned the idea of a pedestrian crossing to allow school children to get from the station to the grammar school easier, a route which would take them through the area currently occupied by the extension of the refuge siding for the U-Bahn.

However the suggested cost of the “trough” solution was also brought up, with claims that the architects that had calculated it had not done so correctly, making it more expensive that it would be.

So how will things continue?

Well, apparently a meeting has already taken place to either merge both plans or to put elements from the BrunnenTreff plan into the town’s one.  “The improved solution is a good one”, Michael Reuter commented, highlighting the use of a special type of asphalt which is apparently quieter and known as “Flüsterasphalt”.

It was then suggested that at the next round table the town’s plan should be discussed in the same level of detail as the BrunnenTreff one had been, and indeed the comments in the Taunus Zeitung are critical of it, whilst very little is said about the town’s plan at all.

But why the hurry?  After all, as Matthias Schutz of the local residents’ action group put it: “we are not pressed for time”, and many of those present agreed that since probably nothing will be built in the near future, there is no reason to get things wrong and end up with something that may well change the character of the area for the next hundred years.

At the end of the day, a plan that offers the best of both solutions at a reasonable price may well be worth waiting for, except that the danger that after all the hard work, meetings, round tables, and discussion, the town just goes ahead and pushes its plan through anyway.

And that danger may be real, as one politician, Dr. Eggert Winter from the SPD, is quoted in the newspaper as thanking the citizens for their “fanciful” ideas but that he now assumes that work can continue on the town’s plan.

The statement alone, if it is correct, sounds like a kick in the teeth for everyone who has put their effort into those meetings and complete indifference to the wishes of the affected residents.

But since he is also the chairman of the town’s planning committee (known as the building and environmental sub-committee), his views may play an important role in the coming stages of the development.


About Graham Tappenden

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Oberursel in 1993 and returned with his family to live there in 2003. He has been writing for since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.

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