Jungfrau Zeitung – millions for playground in Bethlehem

City of Berne | 25. November 2022

The city of Bern can buy a plot of land in Bern-Bethlehem from the pharmacy group Galenica for CHF 3.7 million in order to build a new play and meeting area there. The city council approved the loan on Thursday by a vote of 45 to 22.

The playground is to be built between the apartment buildings in Bethlehem.Foto: Keystone, Gaëtan Bally

The prize gave much to talk about in Parliament. Thomas Fuchs (SVP) spoke of the “most expensive playground in the world”. Today there is a car park for around 90 vehicles on the property on Looslistrasse. The city is planning a change of use because there are too few play and meeting areas in the Untermatt district. The plans are to be implemented after the referendum planned for 2023 on the Weyermannshaus West building regulations.

The high price of CHF 1,580 per square meter made the city council uneasy. The municipal council justified it with the fact that the plot was in the residential zone. Parliament also criticized the fact that Galenica was allowed to continue collecting the income from renting out the parking spaces until construction began. It should be about 40,000 francs per year.

“No alternative”

Councilor Michael Aebersold (SP) admitted that the costs for a play and meeting area were high. However, there is no alternative in the district, “and free spaces are relatively rarely given to us”. The city has no choice but to buy expensive residential land and use it for public use.

By the way, buying land is never stupid. There will be a playground in the short and medium term, but since the plot is in the residential area, a building over would be possible one day. It is already clear that the price of land will continue to rise in the coming decades. It is therefore a strategically clever land reserve.

The city council accepted the deal with the votes of the parliamentary groups SP/Juso, GB/JA, GFL/EPP and parts of the FDP. The SVP, Center and GLP/JGLP parliamentary groups as well as some of the liberals remained in the minority. Three abstentions came from the camp of the AL/PdA faction.