Castle Foundation wants to act in Potsdam: more fines against violators in parks – Potsdam

Potsdam – Against unauthorized barbecues, litter, wild dogs and reckless mountain bikers on the park’s dirt paths: To protect its World Heritage parks in Potsdam, the Castle Foundation will impose more fines this season. The time for simple warnings is over, general manager Christoph Martin Vogtherr clarified to reporters on Monday. Against the 1.4 million euros of damage per year caused by vandalism and abuse – and the trend is increasing – countermeasures must be taken.

Climbing undesirable

What is prohibited has been governed by the park regulations since 2006. As a result, tree climbing is not allowed, but neither is camping in the park or sledding in winter. Anyone caught doing so can be fined for a regulatory offense and parking rules provide for a fine of up to € 10,000. Vogtherr said they wanted to be guided by practice in the city of Potsdam. As is known, violations of the municipal regulation of Potsdam – here too, for example, dogs must be kept on a leash or littering is prohibited – are sanctioned with a fine of five euros or more, depending on the individual case. Vogtherr said the level of the fines will also be based on the degree of damage and whether, for example, they are repeat offenders. In the future, swimming in non-designated bathing areas, such as sensitive coastal areas in Babelsberg, will also be punished. Vogtherr had already announced in 2019 that, for example, bathing and the use of the lawns on the western bank of the New Garden between the Gothic Library and the Marble Palace would be banned.

More trash, more work: summer trash in the New Garden. Photo: Andreas Klaer

Security personnel doubled

And last year, the foundation doubled its security staff and its security department now has seven park attendants. They want to increase this number to 12, Vogtherr said. These guards can also identify park visitors and impose fines, just like the city’s regulatory agency can. The foundation made it clear that these employees could also detain people who want to flee until the police arrive. Employees are adequately qualified for their duties, some of them already working in regulatory offices, it was said. In addition, a dozen security officers from the outsourced service company Fridericus roam the facilities, who, however, can only give verbal warnings in case of violations, so if in doubt they should call their colleagues from the security service.

The foundation has complained for years that its structures, which have been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, need better protection against the growing pressure of use in the growing city. There is a “toxic mixture” of climate change and overexploitation, Vogtherr said last November: “We don’t know how many gardens will survive over the next decade.”

Riding a bicycle in parks also causes damage

Vogtherr reported that the number of pizza boxes left behind has increased dramatically. There is also more bicycle traffic on routes that are not approved for this – such mostly untethered routes are more sensitive, especially when dry. If dozens of cyclists were to pedal there, damage could hardly be avoided. The focal points of recent years are the New Garden of the Holy See, the Babelsberg Park and the areas south of the Charlottenhof. With the now more consistent prosecution of violations, hopefully a turnaround will come and that word of the procedure will spread, the director general said. However, he limited the fact that he did not want to take action against violations of parking rules by younger children.

A verdict for the foundation’s perspective

In its efforts, the foundation can rely on a recent ruling by the Potsdam Regional Court. According to this, a cyclist wanted to sue for damages because the security services prevented him from continuing on a path not open to bicycles and he fell as a result. The district court dismissed the case, stating that the foundation has the right to enforce this prohibition within its domicile rights. For example, they may take counter measures “to avoid danger” to their own systems.

Conflicts over the use of World Heritage Parks and their banks have existed for decades. The foundation had already announced tougher measures under managing directors Hans-Joachim Giersberg and Hartmut Dorgerloh. However, the result was mostly manageable.

Christoph Martin Vogtherr is Director General of the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation since 7 February 2019 …Photo: Soeren Stache / dpa

Fight against the current record drought

The Castle Foundation has also been fighting the effects of climate change for years. The drought that has persisted for weeks in Potsdam is causing many problems, said foundation spokesman Frank Kallensee, especially in view of the start of the growth phase. Such dry phases in spring were already experienced in the drought years between 2018 and 2020. The problem: in the case of trees, the damage suffered would only gradually become visible, for example due to lack of vitality. According to the German Meteorological Service (DWD), Potsdam is currently experiencing the driest March since weather records began in 1893. According to this, only 1.3 liters of water per square meter were recorded in March, a spokesperson said. of DWD on request. For the next few days only light rainfall is expected. For comparison: between 1961 and 1990, it rained an average of 38 liters per square meter in March. The driest March in Potsdam to date was recorded in 1932 with 5.7 liters of rainfall.

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