Readers complain about the state of Stuttgart’s public parks. The municipal department of gardening, cemetery and forestry attributes the shortcomings primarily to the storm and the pandemic and promises improvements.
Stuttgart – The criticism was clear – from our editors and readers. One would look in vain for a well-kept park in Stuttgart, wrote one reader following a comment in our newspaper. Many central structures, such as the city garden, the academy garden, the Leibfriedsche Garten or the Weißenburg Park are “in various stages of neglect”. Another reader criticized: “Stuttgart is slowly fading”.
Volker Schirner, head of the city’s gardens, cemetery and forestry office, doesn’t want to let that be. “If he’s not doing well in the parks, it doesn’t hurt anyone more than me,” he says in an interview with our editors. In fact, things are not going well in some plants at the moment. However, there are reasons for this, especially the weather and the pandemic. His employees acted on the safe – clean – beautiful principle. “And in that order,” Schirner says. After the June storm, they had to collect and dispose of more than 1,000 broken tree tops in the city. In addition, one is intensely busy with cleaning: “In the second year of the pandemic there was an excessive fouling of the green areas,” explains the head of the office. Furthermore, this year the vegetation had literally exploded due to the weather. You can hardly keep up with the cut. However, it is possible to get many of Stuttgart’s typical structures and viewpoints in good condition. “Our gardeners are very busy,” says Schirner. “That’s why criticism hurts them.”
Strengthening of staff for the office
According to the head of the department, the facilities are safe and clean. However, the skills were still not enough everywhere for the beautiful. Schirner is confident that the situation will improve soon. In the latest double budget, the gardening, cemetery and forestry office was increased by nearly 60 jobs to 555 employees. Of these, around 250 are responsible for the planning and maintenance of the city’s green spaces. “We are now in a much better position in terms of staff and finances than in the past,” the experienced landscape architect points out. Other cities envied Stuttgart for this. It is also difficult to find candidates in the gardening, cemetery and forestry department. Gradually, however, the vacancies are filling up.
According to Schirner, this means for the Weißenburgpark: a responsible employee has been found. A new road network is being worked on. The playground will also be renovated. “It will start next year,” says Schirner. The park will therefore seem much better cared for and will once again become a center of attraction for families. Schirner also promises improvements for the university’s city garden, once a pearl of Stuttgart, as well as for the Karlshöhe and Villa Berg park in the coming year. However, important city council decisions are still pending.
“A significant restructuring backlog”
So everything follows a plan. Two years ago, the mayor of technology, Dirk Thürnau, presented a “program for the development of the landscapes of the parks of Stuttgart”. He says, “While more renovation and improvement measures have recently been implemented in small-scale green areas, the office now intends to pay more attention to larger-scale urban park landscapes.”
In addition to the Weißenburgpark, the Karlshöhe, the Stadtgarten and the park of Villa Berg, the Uhlandshöhe, the park of the International Garden Exhibition of 1993 and the Kurpark of Bad Cannstatt are mentioned. In these systems, the administration already established in 2019 that there was a “significant backlog of renovations”. This traffic jam is expected to be resolved by 2029. Schirner hopes that criticism of the condition and maintenance of the city’s facilities will have subsided by then.