Still A Hole

It is still there. I had wondered about that. We were gone for five months after all, I thought maybe there had been some movement.

The hole at the edge of Sulzburg was supposed to be the basement of a new apartment building that would provide housing for 20 Syrian refugees who have been living for three years in an old school. Apparently no-one asked the neighbours, who understandably were upset to find a new building going up literally inches from their front door, one that would block the view and the sunshine.

As I understand it, they reacted in a very North American fashion – they went to court. Construction was stopped. After six months of inactivity, the construction crane was taken down. And the hole just sat there.

While we were on our extended stay in Canada, I heard that the Syrians had indeed found a new home in nearby Laufen. It is a step up from the school (which wouldn’t be hard), though I haven’t seen it yet so don’t know if it is supposed to be a permanent solution. And what are they planning on doing with the hole?

I had joked that perhaps they could turn it into a municipal pool, but there are problems with that. First is that there is already a spring-fed natural pool at the other edge of town, a much more attractive site. Second is that the hole wouldn’t be at all suitable for swimming unless they did extensive modifications – there is no shallow end. So, though rainfall is slowly filling the hole, that isn’t a viable solution.

After two years here I am very much aware that Germany efficiency is more myth than reality. Everything seems to take an extra-long time to get done. I fully expect the hole to still be there, in the same condition (with perhaps a little more water) two years from now.

I’d poke fun at that, except I am from Ottawa. Things don’t happen quickly there either.

In 2007 one of our heritage buildings, Somerset House, partially collapsed during renovations. For a dozen years the owner and city council have debated whether the building should be saved and what a restoration would look like. Lots of words. No actions, or at least none that I have noticed.

I doubt the place the Syrians have been relocated to is as nice as the new apartment building was going to be, but I doubt they are complaining. As for the people living beside the hole, after a few more years of emptiness, they might begin wishing the construction had gone ahead after all.

Somerset House, circa 1900

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