(photo credit: Yoav Devir)
Jerusalem Park, which covers an area of about 15,000 dunams, will eventually encompass Jerusalem with a green belt, and will provide local residents with a number of recreation and leisure sites in natural surroundings. On the last day of the KKL JNF World Marketing Conference, the conference participants visited the memorial for the victims of the 9/11 disaster, which is located in the middle of Jerusalem Park. “I’m glad Jerusalem Park is the last site you are visiting at the conclusion of this conference, because you will certainly be taking a special memory with you from this site,” said Deputy Director of KKL-JNF's Central Region Mr. Yehiel Cohen, the landscape architect who had planned the area around the memorial, and who greeted the group there. The memorial itself was designed by Eliezer Weisshof.
Cohen explained to the guests about the meaning behind the unique design. The monument is made of bronze and aluminum and is inspired by the flag of the United States, which waves in the wind and resembles a flame six meters high reaching up to the sky. Embedded in the base of the monument is a steel beam from the frame of the building that collapsed, and one can see it through a pane of glass. The names of the victims are engraved in a memorial plate which goes from one end of the memorial site to the other and expresses the magnitude of the disaster. The memorial is situated, symbolically, in a place that has a direct view of Har Hamenuhot, the cemetery of Jerusalem.
Eitan Katchke, Jerusalem Park Community and Education Coordinator, told the KKL JNF representatives that although the development of the park is still in its early stages, many thousands of people have already visited it, including people from Israel and people from other countries—students, youth and families. “In addition to a variety of recreational activities, the park will be a place for educational activities focusing on ecology and environmental protection,” said Katchke.
Jerusalem Park includes four area—Nahal Tzofim, Emek Haarazim, Emek Motza and Emek Refaim. These expanses include ancient agricultural remains, historic structures, underground springs and pools with lush vegetation. Jerusalem Park is a metropolitan park, which is adjacent to the margins of the city and not located within the city like an urban park. It is also characterized by natural
open spaces, hiking trails, cycling paths and recreation areas. The park helps transform the open spaces into a resource rather than a problem, and allows for the protection of nature and history.
After a lengthy period of planning, development of the park began about three years ago. Development work is expected to take a few years and is being executed jointly by KKL JNF, the Jerusalem Municipality, The Jerusalem Development Authority, and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. The park contains a path that goes all around Jerusalem—a bicycle ring route 45 km long. Most of it has already been completed, and a major part of it is suitable for all ages.