(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
The KKL JNF World Marketing Conference 2012 began with a tour of the Negev, which is a high priority on the KKL JNF agenda. The first stop was a visit to Nahal Beersheba Park, one of KKL JNF’s major projects, which has already started making a difference in the lives of Negev residents. Nahal Beersheba Park is the municipal park of the city of Beersheba and also the metropolitan park of the entire Negev.
In his remarks, Mr. Avi Dickstein, KKL JNF Executive Director of Resource & Development Division, emphasized that representatives from 27 different countries were attending the conference.
Mr. Michael Jacobson, World Marketing Conference Chair, said, “This conference is not just a journey for learning about KKL JNF's work but also a journey for making new friends. KKL JNF representatives all over the world work for the benefit of Israel.”
Nahal Beersheba Park is an excellent example of KKL JNF's ability to lead transformational processes. This area used to be Beersheba's garbage dump. The river was filled with sewage and waste. A few years ago, a decision was made to rehabilitate the streambed and turn the ecological disaster into a park that would become a tourist attraction. Several organizations joined forces to promote the venture—KKL JNF and its friends worldwide, including Germany, USA and Canada; the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee; the Beersheba Municipality; the Administration for Restoration and Development of Nahal Beersheba, and the Shikma-Besor Drainage Authority.
As of now, the park includes open spaces, picnic areas, attractions, a promenade and historical sites that tell the story of the city from the dawn of history until the present. The large promenade covers an area of 250 dunams and includes groves, lawns and playgrounds for children. The park has become a venue for music and art performances as well as fairs and events for all ages.
In the western part of the park, KKL-JNF constructed the Liberty Bell Garden – the Plotnick Family Park, on an area of 40 dunams, thanks to a contribution of friends of KKL JNF from Canada. The park includes activity, recreation and leisure areas.
In the eastern part of the park, KKL JNF has restored Beit Eshel, an agricultural settlement founded in 1943 for testing the possibilities for sustainability and cultivation of the land in such a difficult desert climate. Restoration of the historical site was done thanks to contributions of friends of KKL JNF from Canada and Germany.
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Participants at the conference met the Rehabilitation Project Director of Nahal Beersheba Park, Mr. Itay Freeman, who told them about the numerous plans for the development of the park.
The visitors proceeded to tour an additional park site, the Pipe Bridge, which was constructed with a contribution made by friends of KKL JNF from the USA. This is an impressive bridge for walkers and cyclers, which passes above Mekorot water pipelines and connects the city's urban neighborhoods with the park on the other side. Families come for visits, and many couples have their wedding photos taken on the bridge. This is yet another example of an economic incentive led by KKL JNF that transformed a neglected garbage dump into a desirable neighborhood.