On the occasion of the Stöffel-Park presentation Helmut Strauß, freelancer, took the opportunity to speak with Martin Rudolph, who manages the Stöffel-Park.
Herr Rudolph, the Stöffel Park has an extremely interesting range of attractions. What was the origin of the idea for this park, and what is the underlying concept?
We originally discovered that we could attract visitors with our “museum operation” alone. “Museum operation” includes all the historic buildings and also prehistoric excavations. But, due not least of all to our geography - despite, or maybe even precisely because of our location “in the midst of the lovely Westerwald hills” - the good visitor statistics of the early years later began to decline steadily. Visitor numbers only began to rise again once we had started to attract very varied target groups with very diversified interests by issuing invitations to special events. In 2014 we again welcomed more than 30 000 visitors, compared to an ultimate low of only 17 000.
But that kind of thing costs money. Who is the actual financial backer of the Stöffel Parks and how is the whole thing funded?
The Stöffel Park is funded by a special-purpose municipal alliance, the members being the County of Westerwald, the Westerburg Joint Regional Authority as a municipal authority of the Waller Land Region, and the Municipal Authorities of Enspel and Stockum-Püschen.
And what’s coming up next? The crusher buildings, for example, also need continuous inspection and maintenance. Is anything new planned for them?
We have a most diverse range of building and site security provisions, as we do every year. All the “holes” in the roofs of the individual crusher buildings have just been repaired, for example. For financial reasons it has been possible to thoroughly renovate only the oldest crusher, Number 1, and open it to the visiting public. All the other buildings are “maintained” sufficiently to ensure that their decay can be held back as long as possible. There is “something new” happening now, in the form of the setting up and fitting out of the Tertiary Age Museum in the Information Center. The opening is scheduled for the start of next year’s season, on March 1, 2016, and we’d like today to cordially invite you to it.
How will the Stöffel Park look in twenty years time – and do you yourself have a kind of a vision?
We want it to look… the way it does today. But with even more attractions for visitors, in greater detail. And covering an even larger area, because the remaining plots, around two thirds of the 140 hectare total site, are soon to revert to municipal-alliance ownership again. We have to reach agreement on the use and landscaping of the additional space by then. Do we want a lake, or do we want more space for events in the park? Those are the questions that need answers.