THIS WEEK IN JERUSALEM: The best-laid plans

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

STORYTIME AT city libraries: Now free of charge. (photo credit: ILLUSTRATIVE PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
STORYTIME AT city libraries: Now free of charge.
(photo credit: ILLUSTRATIVE PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
The best-laid plans
How does work on a NIS 10 billion project grind to a halt? With the realization that a small but significant detail has been overlooked. It has been determined that the projected route for the light rail’s Green Line runs too close to the new Prime Minister’s Residence to be located near the city’s western entrance. 
The close proximity poses sensitive security issues. Moreover, the light rail is designed to have priority over other vehicles, but official convoys running there several times a day would take precedence and delay rail schedules.
This line has been in the planning stage for nearly a decade, but now new solutions are being explored, such as an alternate route or a tunnel, which will add about a billion shekels to the cost of the project. Because work on the Green Line has stopped until the issue is resolved, hope to inaugurate the line in 2024 has significantly dimmed. 
Not leaving on a jet plane
The city council voted to institute new restrictions on official trips abroad. A special committee comprised of the city accountant-general (who is not a city employee but belongs to the Finance Ministry), the municipality CEO and the legal adviser will be tasked with examining the importance and necessity of all proposed high-ranking travel, including that of the mayor.
Approved travelers wishing to bring a family partner are expected to cover extra costs from their own personal funds. 
Once upon a dime
As of this month, parents or grandparents taking children to one of the city’s libraries for storytime will no longer be charged as a result of action taken by Mayor Moshe Lion and the city council. 
Story-telling hours for children take place in most of the city’s libraries in most neighborhoods. Accompanying adults will be at liberty to browse and exchange books while the children are engrossed in stories that are sometimes even lightly dramatized. 
Face-lifting businesses 
The municipality will distribute special grants of NIS 7,000 to NIS 14,000 for small and medium businesses to renovate storefronts and signage. A total of NIS 280,000 is budgeted for that purpose. Shop owners in Gilo, Har Nof, French Hill, Kiryat Yovel, Neve Yaakov, Pisgat Zeev, Ramot, Romema, Talpiot Mizrah and Beit Hakerem will be included in this project. Municipality representatives will soon contact relevant merchants and instruct them how to obtain the grants. 
Stay and learn

Stipends available to Jerusalemite students studying in one of the city’s institutions of higher learning have increased to NIS 14,000 per year. The total sum allocated for these grants has doubled from NIS 5 million to NIS 10 million; the grants will be disbursed to some 1,000 students who have graduated from local high schools and plan to study in the city. 
The educational funding is made possible through the support of the municipality, the Jerusalem Foundation and the Israel State Lottery (Mifal Hapayis).,