Dienstag, 11. März 2008

Bye, bye Tempelhof Airport?

Flying is evil, I know. But I freely confess that I have a soft spot for Tempelhof airport. There is the history, of course. It was the first airport with an underground station, for example, and, of course, the site of the 1948 airlift, which, put simply, saved Berliners from starving. I have lived near Tempelhof for almost 8 years now. Sometimes you can hear aircraft propeller engines as background noise in my flat. I have to confess, I find that comforting. Sitting on my terrace I can see planes land both at Tempelhof and Tegel. Despite all I know about the evils of aviation, the little boy in me still finds watching planes land exciting. Looking at planes taking off makes me think of friends far and wide. Until last year, I lived so close to Tempelhof that I could even easily walk to it. The one time I did actually take a flight from (and to) there, I simply loved that. To be able to land and stroll home on foot in 20 minutes - it's perverse, of course. But anyone who has travelled will also appreciate that it is special. - Still, Tempelhof Airport must go! When Berliners vote on its future on April 27th, I will most certainly be voting NO. Tempelhof was meant to close this autumn as part of the deal that allowed for the construction of the completely oversized Berlin Brandenburg International airport (due to open in 2011). But a big tabloid paper driven campaign has resulted in enough people signing up to force a referendum (which will, however, not be binding on the Berlin government). I like direct democracy; I just wish that other, more pressing matters - such as fighting climate change - could also get more than 200,000 people motivated to head to their local registry! - The reasons why Tempelhof Airport must go are many, climate change and local air pollution being two. But what is most exciting about the prospect of Tempelhof closing is what might happen with all that inner city land. Tempelhof can now become and area for all Berliners - not just the few who fly on business. I personally hope that the park where I jog will be extended, as it is right next to the airport land. Apparently, the park could become as big as Central Park! - There is also talk of a car-free housing development, which could certainly cater for a property niche central Berlin does not yet have. May be the Babelsberg film studios will rent some of the beautiful old airport building. I will miss Tempelhof Airport. But I am looking forward to Tempelhof becoming a cultural centre and park all Berliners can be proud of. Let's work on Berlin politicians and developers not mucking up the chance that redeveloping Tempelhof provides. Let's stop them from making Tempelhof into yet another bland, corporate landscape - like they are doing all over the rest of the city!

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