Redevelopment of Place de l'Etoile and installation of bicycle racks and disabled parking spaces
Question from Elisabeth Margue
I would like to raise the issue of the redevelopment of Place de l'Etoile following the extension of the tram line to "Place de l'Etoile".
As such, I would like to put the following questions to the college of aldermen:
- Since the completion of the works at Place de l'Etoile, the area has seen a huge influx of pedestrians and cyclists. Are there any plans to open an M-Box cycle park in the vicinity of Place de l'Etoile for tram users who cycle to the tram stop? If not, does the City of Luxembourg plan to install a bike rack?
- During the works at Place de l’Etoile, the disabled parking spaces near local restaurants were removed. Are there any plans to mark out a new disabled parking space near Place de l'Etoile, and more specifically, near the tram stop?
- Pending the implementation of the special development plan (plan d'aménagement particulier – PAP) for Place de l'Etoile, are there any temporary development plans for the public area adjacent to the areas covered by the PAP?
Question from Christa Brömmel
Since the introduction of the tram service and the opening of the Place de l'Etoile stop/terminus, this multi-mode transport hub has also drawn cyclists riding in from the western districts of the city (Belair, Merl) – and even from as far east as Strassen – to take the tram to the Kirchberg plateau.
Since there is no bike parking infrastructure at Place de l’Etoile, cyclists have no other option than to leave their bikes somewhere near the tram stop. It is not uncommon to see bikes left on the pavement, chained to railings, where they can cause an obstruction to pedestrians and passengers getting on and off buses.
Therefore, I would like to put the following questions to the college of aldermen:
- What plans does the City have to provide cyclists with secure parking at Place de l'Etoile?
- Would bike shelters be an option?
Response by Lydie Polfer and Patrick Goldschmidt
Alderman Goldschmidt acknowledged that Place de l'Etoile was an important hub for users of the City of Luxembourg and RGTR bus services and the tram service. The tram service is a Luxtram project that provides for the installation of permanent bike parking, on completion or by the end of 2019. In the meantime, in keeping with the measures to be taken on the agenda, the City of Luxembourg has decided to install temporary bike racks at Place de l'Etoile. Luxtram is expected to submit its decision on this matter to the City within six months.
The installation of M-Box cycle parks falls under the remit of the national authorities or Luxtram. Once the City receives proposals, it will examine these to determine whether it is possible to install a closed, secure cycle park.
The council is reminded that, unfortunately, the installation of an M-Box cycle park does not guarantee absolute security, as proven by the recent spate of thefts of bicycles from M-Boxes. In light of these considerations, the agenda provides for a decision on the installation of bike racks pending a proposal from Luxtram in the coming months. A determination can then be made, in concert with the City of Luxembourg, as to what type of facilities can be installed at Place de l'Etoile.
Regarding parking spaces for persons with special needs or reduced mobility, these were indeed removed during the tram works, but the City of Luxembourg plans to reinstate them. The City is currently examining where it would be most appropriate to place them in light of existing needs (whether users live or go to dine in the area).
The Mayor and Chair pointed out that a special development plan for Place de l'Etoile, dating back to 2010, already exists. However, a new special development plan is currently being drawn up, since the current plan is no longer suited to what was planned for Place de l'Etoile, which included a number of shops and large retail outlets.
Instead, the new special development plan provides for more easily accessible housing units. We also want to include an attractive public square with shops, terraces and green spaces. It is in that area that the City will look for the most suitable location for the M-Boxes.
Lastly, the new special development plan for Place de l'Etoile will likely be filed before the end of 2019.
Access to the "Demy Schlechter" schoolyard
Question from Christa Brömmel
Alderwoman Brömmel raised several questions on the issue of access to the "Demy Schlechter" schoolyard by children who are not enrolled at the foyers scolaires. Apparently, a number parents of children enrolled at the foyer scolaire have requested that access to the yard be restricted, on the grounds that young people go there to smoke, and so forth, leaving their rubbish behind. To avoid such a behaviour, which is unacceptable in a schoolyard or playground, the yard in question has been declared a "school campus" and can now only be accessed by children enrolled at the foyer scolaire.
However, it seems that there has been no official communication on the matter by the City of Luxembourg, and that certain parents were informed by their children's teachers while others found out on seeing the sign at the entrance.
As a result, many children can no longer use the school playground and have no other alternative. The situation is all the more severe on weekends, when the playground in the nursery school on Rue Nic Martha is swarming with older children.
I would now like to ask the college of aldermen the following questions:
- Can the municipal council confirm the situation I have just described and, if so, can it explain why this is the case?
- Is it a temporary measure and, if so, how long is it expected to last?
- Is the City prepared to lift the ban, at least in the short term, so that children in the district can have a place to play and run around during the Easter holidays?
- What other measures has the City taken to deal with the real issue of inappropriate use of property by young people and avoid having to restrict children's access?
- Does the college of aldermen intend to regulate the use of space in each district, taking account of local needs for playgrounds and outdoor spaces for children and young people. If so, are there any plans to involve all stakeholders in these discussions?
Response by Lydie Polfer and Colette Mart
Alderwoman Mart acknowledged that the issue was indeed important, as schoolyards are a place for children in the district to get together, and therefore help foster social cohesion. She has been aware of the problems in the "Demy Schlechter" schoolyard for some time and has visited the site on several occasions to observe the problem for herself. The schoolyard is on the list of development priorities, as are those in schools in the Gare and Kirchberg districts.
For a time, schoolyards were managed by the City's Service Architecte (Architecture Department), often as part of school renovation works or the building of new schools. As a result, some of the City's schools and their schoolyards are modern, while at others, such as the "Demy Schlechter" school, the yards need to be upgraded. In this particular case, people who were not supposed to be there have been seen in the schoolyard.
A number of parents of schoolchildren have filed a request with the City to close the yard to the public.
As a rule, all schoolyards are open to the public and are used as playgrounds, and the yard was classified as a "school campus" at the request of those parents, meaning it is open to all children during school hours, but only to children enrolled in the foyer scolaire outside of school hours.
A number of parents complained that, as a result of the reclassification, their children could no longer use the yard in the afternoons. Alderwoman Mart was subsequently contacted by Luc Bartz from the "Demy Schlechter" school to organise a another meeting to find an alternative solution. The purpose of the meeting, which will be taking place soon, is to reach a consensus that is satisfactory to all parties pending the upgrade of the yard. Regarding alternatives in the neighbourhood, Alderwoman Mart pointed out that there are several new playgrounds on the "Vannerus" site that are quite close to the "Demy Schlechter" campus.
with regard to the delay in playground renovation works, the City is in the process of recruiting a new agent for the Service Parcs (Parks Department), as the person in charge of monitoring these matters will soon be retiring. After the Easter holidays, she will also be in a position to provide more information on whether a solution has been found to settle the issues surrounding the "Demy Schlechter" schoolyard.
The Mayor and Chair added that all decisions on the matter were taken jointly with the parents concerned. If no agreement can be reached, the City will still need to take a decision to settle the issue. The "Demy Schlechter" schoolyard is a special case, as it has several out-of-the-way areas that attract young people who are not supposed to be there and who indulge in activities that are inappropriate for a schoolyard. For all of these reasons, a decision had to be taken.
It is hoped that a solution can be found at the next meeting so all local children can use the yard.
For what it is worth, there are several possible alternatives in Bonnevoie where children can meet, play sports and engage in various cultural activities.
In response to Alderwoman Brömmel's remark suggesting that the "Vannerus" playground was closed, she said that it was the City of Luxembourg's foyer scolaire.
Access to culture for all citizens
Question from Claudie Reyland
Given that it is the municipal council's policy to ensure that culture is accessible to all citizens, and that culture is an important factor in social integration and cohesion, I would like to put the following questions to the college of aldermen:
- What steps have been taken to facilitate access to culture for all citizens?
- What are the conditions for obtaining a "Kulturpass"?
- How many "Kulturpasses" were applied for in 2018?
- How many were issued in 2018?
- Might it be conceivable to make the museums free for all citizens?
Response by Lydie Polfer
The Mayor pointed out that the issuing of "Kulturpasses" is handled at national level. They are not issued by the City of Luxembourg or by any other municipality. As they are granted to beneficiaries of the cost-of-living allowance, certain social conditions apply. The "Kulturpass" scheme is administered by the non-profit association, CULTUR'ALL, under an agreement with the City of Luxembourg.
In 2018, 3,000 "Kulturpass" tickets were issued to 1,000 beneficiaries nationwide. Currently, over 100 cultural and social partners participate in the scheme.
In terms of City of Luxembourg institutions, 36 "Kulturpass" tickets were issued for the City Museum and 28 for Villa Vauban in 2018. On the whole, the City has been making active efforts to make culture accessible to all citizens for a very long time.
Ticket prices for the City's theatres are cheaper than those for other theatres across Europe. What is more, some of the City's cultural facilities are entirely free of charge, including the Cité Bibliothèque (City Library), which is free for Luxembourg City residents, and all of the City's museums, which are free for young people up to the age of 21 and students up to the age of 26. A number of exhibitions are also free of charge, such as those at the Ratskeller and, at certain times of year, the permanent exhibitions at Villa Vauban. Various free concerts are organised throughout the year – such as the concert on Kinnekswiss – and free museum visits are also organised for schools and foyers scolaires.
For museums, the standard entrance fee is currently €5, or €3 for seniors over 60. Admission to the Cinémathèque is priced as cheaply as possible. Culture in the City, therefore, is almost entirely free, though this project was not included in the current and previous municipal councils' agendas.
The Mayor also referred to the educational programmes implemented in the City, pointing to workshops at Villa Vauban to get children involved with art, and workshops at the Cinémathèque to introduce them to film, among others. Theatres also organise classes and work experience for secondary school students.
Lastly, the Mayor confirmed that these measures would continue to be developed over the coming years.