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"Bonn on Ice": Ice rink at the Bonn city gardens hangs in the balance

"Bonn on Ice" : Ice rink at the Bonn city gardens hangs in the balance

The operator of “Bonn on Ice” is hoping for a permit for next year, despite the Bonn city gardens being under a historic preservation order. He has so far invested 170,000 Euros in sound insulation, optics and lighting of the tent, among other things.

The ice rink in Bonn’s city gardens is still extremely popular. “There are at least as many visitors as last year,” estimates Ottmar Kaiser, operator of the “Bonn on Ice” rink. His neighbour, Hermann-Josef Alsdorf, owner of the snack bar next to the ice rink, also thinks it is a neck and neck race for the year with the most visitors. The two do not yet know whether they will have the chance to set new records in the coming autumn, as it is still unclear whether their events will be affected by the historic preservation order.

“This year was crazy,” explains Alsdorf. On Christmas Day, for example, hardly anyone was there. However, on Boxing Day, there were as many people on the ice rink as on the two days combined last year. “It is noticeable that school children now come more around midday or in the afternoon,” he reports. That is not quite so good for business, as the many children sometimes disturb the older guests while romping around or even drive them away. “In general, however, we are happy that things are finally going well,” says the snack bar owner. After the move from the Museum Mile in 2012, it took years before business was really up and running. The thought of a new change in location therefore makes him shudder.

There is a reason for the theoretical threat: the city gardens at the Alter Zoll have been under a provisional historic preservation order since last June. The final decision will be made in a few weeks. “I am optimistic that we will be able to open again next year despite the preservation order,” says Ottmar Kaiser. The application has been submitted to the building authorities but there is no final approval yet. “In June, the signs from the city were still very positive,” recalls the operator.

City has discretion in making decision

The Rhineland Regional Council Office for the Preservation of Historical Monuments (LVR) had expressed reservations against the ice rink in a statement; however, the General-Anzeiger has been told there has been no categorical refusal. LVR spokesperson Birgit Ströter said the city had room for discretion in making the decision to approve the ice rink. In the meantime, Ottmar Kaiser is waiting. “It was said we must not get bigger and should think about moving a little further down to the lower level of the beer garden,” he summarised the latest correspondence from the authorities. The ice rink is not going to get any bigger and he has already examined the small change in location. “That won’t work, unfortunately, as among other things, we can’t easily get there with our lorries,” explains the operator.

If there is no solution, it could mean the end of the ice rink. A move is out of the question for Kaiser. “There a no suitable place to move to,” he says unequivocally. Only places that can be reached with public transport and are close to the city are suitable.

Kaiser calculates he has already invested 170,000 Euros in the current location, including in sound insulation, optics and lighting of the tent and adds: “Perhaps a solution similar to that in the Rheinaue is possible.” As is well known, possibilities were found there to reconcile both historic preservation and events. “The ice rink has been part of the city for ten to 15 years,” says Kaiser. If necessary, he will invoke grandfathering rights. First, however, he is waiting for the decision, which he expects within the next two weeks. In the meantime, the ice skating continues. The attraction is open until Sunday, 20 January at 9pm.

(Original text: Elena Kuss. Translation: kc)