“Singelgrachtgarage – Stop!” it says on the posters. Trees are pinned with red ribbons, over notifications of the upcoming meeting on the 11th September. At the entrance to the park on Frederick Hendrik Plantsoen, is a big banner with bold words in capital letters, about the planned protest at the Council Borough offices (West) at Bos en Lommerplein.
For the last two or three years, most of the houses along the Marnixkade, between numbers 75 and 118, have had posters in their windows telling people that they are opposed to the planned building of the Singelgrachtgarage. And I don’t blame them, as they and other residents along this stretch of the Singelgracht canal are the ones who will be most affected by this build.
I live on the Marnixstraat overlooking part of the Singelgracht and for me, it’s one of my favourite streets in Amsterdam and always will be. It’s a lovely part of town and that particular stretch of the canal is picturesque and quiet, with various boats moored to the side of the canal leading up to the Marnixbad bridge.
In 2008 and early 2009, previous councils in Amsterdam West and Amsterdam Centre investigated the feasibility of an underground garage under the Singelgracht for residents/permit holders and visitors to the area. By removing parking spaces above ground and putting them underground in this parking garage, this would create more green space, meeting areas and playgrounds in the area. The aim is also to reduce car traffic in the streets and therefore improve the air quality in the local neighbourhoods. The garage is planned to be built between Marnixplein and Tweede Marnixplantsoen, by the Marnixbad and is to have 800 parking spaces.
Residents and businesses were closely involved in research that was conducted into the plan for the building of the garage, which included questions such as the location of the garage and its entrance and exit, the affect on the environment, safety and financial costs etc. These were completed in December 2009. The office of Research and Statistics examined the opinions of over 750 residents and business owners in both the West and the Centre. More than 55% said it was a good plan. The other half were against or had no opinion. The two district councils voted in late January 2010 and agreed on the plan.
A number of residents in the Westerpark district were against it and requested a referendum, having already gathered more than 2,000 signatures. The referendum took place on June 9th 2010. 49.5% of the people voted for and 47.9% voted against. So the planning of the building was scheduled to begin in 2015. Now, the decision for the financing of the garage could be started. Both councils are responsible for the financing of the project and this year, had to research the possibilities of that. On September 4th and September 25th 2012, the district council for the Centre had to make a decision on the grant provided by the Garage Fund for the garage and on the 11th September the district council for the West had to make the same decision.
The Vrienden Van De Singelgracht.nl in Westerpark had set up a website since the end of March 2009 and asked people to attend this meeting, to protest against the all important financial decision making, before the garage got the final go-ahead. The final outcome, so far, is that the district council from the West decided to postpone the credit decision for the financing of the garage. The reason being, that they want to be more certain about the final development of the parking fund. I read in the Stadsblad – De Echo that the West want to check the personnel costs again. A lot of people in the area are very happy with this decision. I am, for sure.
I don’t see the need for another parking garage. There are already two in the area: Van Beuningenplein, which is an underground garage, near Van Hallstraat and one even closer by: the Euro Parking garage on the Marnixstraat. I guess probably too, that the canal would have to be drained but I’m not 100% sure of this. But the noise and disruption to the area would be horrendous. Vrienden Van De Singelgracht also say that some of the trees near the Carteus Lyceum would have to be removed too, which would be a crying shame. I don’t agree with the plan and I hope it never comes to realisation. http://www.west.amsterdam.nl/projecten/parkeren/singelgrachtgarage/ What about you? What do you think of the plans?