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The Jerusalem Municipality has stepped in to save the Jerusalem Swimming Pool, ending weeks of speculation over the iconic leisure spot's future.
In response to a request by Deputy Mayor Kobi Kahlon, city attorney Yossi Havilio checked the original agreement between the landowners and the municipality, and found that the German Colony site may only be used as a public pool.
Last month, pool-goers were told their memberships would not be extended past December 31. The move fueled a spate of rumors, including that the pool's owners, Moshav Shoresh and the Ela Brothers, had asked that the property be rezoned for commercial construction and that a parking lot would be built on top of the pool.
Longtime pool member Haim Watzman, a member of an Action Committee to Save the Jerusalem Pool, recently told The Jerusalem Post that the action committee had approached an urban planner from the German Colony's neighborhood council to look into the matter, and that he came back with "encouraging facts" which the municipality has now confirmed.
"The land is zoned as 'green,' meaning it cannot be built upon," Watzman said. "And on top of that, the building plans specifically designate the property as a pool. In the 1980s, when the Ela Brothers purchased the property, it was done so on the condition that they continue operating the pool. If they were to build anything on top of the swimming pool, it would be a violation of their building license."
"I don't want to say yes or no [about plans to build on the site]," Rami Ela had told the Post earlier this month.
"We've suspected for some time that the owners were deliberately running down the facility to make it unattractive," Watzman said. "Repairs haven't been done for a long time, but with minor effort, the place could even turn a profit."
"We feel that the pool is an important facility, not just for the neighborhood, but for the whole city," he said. "There's a swim team that holds weekly practices there, a number of facilities for the disabled, and it's one of the few places that Arabs and Jews mix freely. There are also special hours for haredi swimmers - Monday nights are designated for women and Wednesday nights are designated for men."