Springer pond in Groningen has served many purposes in over a century of its existence, but for the past few decades, it’s been missing a key element: recreational-quality water.
The pond closed to swimmers around the 1960s due to frequently high bacteria levels. Today, there are very few publicly owned pools or other recreational water facilities in Groningen, according to the 2021 Reassessment of the City Park plan.
That’s about to change, according to the Sikkom news site. Following over a decade of efforts by stakeholders, the city has implemented a cleaning program to ensure that the water in the pond is safe for bathers.
From labor project to recreational attraction
Springer Pond (known locally as Springervijver) started out 1913 as a project to put Groningen’s unemployed to work. During the First World War, the ‘Committee for Mediation and Support employed about a hundred men to dig and move the dirt. Many workers did not know they were building a public recreational site; they thought the park was only intended for the elite.
It wasn’t until the late 1950s that the city added recreational infrastructure like pavilions, a skating rink, and a botanical garden. Prior to that, the pond was owned by the Stadspark Association.
Springer Pond officially became Groningen’s property, and its biggest draw at that time, arguably, was swimming.
Bacteria levels at the pond were concerning, though, as early as the 1960s.
Today, Stadspark encompasses about 140 hectares of prime real estate. It offers a lot of space for rest, recreation, sports and many other activities. Some of its attractions include an event area, a petting zoo, a camping site, and a pavilion. There are also soccer fields, an athletics track and a golf course.
But there’s still no swimming.
That didn’t sit well with Groningen’s municipal councilors who wanted to bring water recreation back to the area. After years of planning and research, the municipality plans to launch a pilot test in 2024, which means we can already take our first dip in the city park next summer.
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