This week in Jerusalem: American Promenade

A weekly round-up of city affairs.

 GOOD NEWS for the city’s seniors (Illustrative).  (photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/FLASH90)
GOOD NEWS for the city’s seniors (Illustrative).
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/FLASH90)

American Promenade 

A new Jerusalem promenade named after James MacDonald, the first US ambassador to Israel, was recently inaugurated, connecting Moshe Aryeh Kurtz to Avner Gershon streets, at the entrance to a park in the Arnona neighborhood. 

McDonald was an American diplomat who served presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. In this capacity, he met in 1933 with Adolf Hitler and realized that the Nazi leader was plotting the mass extermination of European Jewry. From that moment, he worked with the US government and other organizations to counter Hitler’s plans. MacDonald tried to save the Jews of Europe, granting visas to the US to about 2,000 German Jews.

Towers alert

Two urban renewal plans have been approved by the local planning and constructing committee, which include more high-rises – this time in the Talpiot neighborhood. The project includes a new residential plan instead of industrial buildings, and a gas station, on Shalom Yehuda Street, as part of the pinui binui (evacuate and build) projects in the city. 

The project proposed at the district committee involves the construction of four towers and will include the corner of Aryeh Dostrovski Street. As part of the plan, the demolition of seven residential buildings of three to four stories has been proposed, comprising 104 units. In their place, a residential complex will be built, comprising four towers of 25 stories with 390 units. Once brought to the district committee, the project will be open to objections by residents and organizations. 

There is also a new plan for urban renewal on Asher Street in Baka, which is about to be approved. The municipality recommended to the district committee the plan for urban renewal on 2-6 Asher St. at the corner of Pierre Koenig St., near the Oranim intersection. It will replace the three residential buildings, which have 16 units in each building (a total of 48 units) with two residential buildings of 19 to 25 floors, including 168 housing units, a commercial ground floor and a daycare facility.

 SPECIAL-EDUCATION children’s drivers should not be smoking in the shuttle.  (credit: David Cohen/Flash90) SPECIAL-EDUCATION children’s drivers should not be smoking in the shuttle. (credit: David Cohen/Flash90)
Support for seniors

For the first time in Israel, a council to strengthen the economic resilience of senior citizens has been launched. The Council for Increasing Economic Resilience for 60+, established by the municipality, is aimed to promote significant assistance and optimal living conditions for seniors. The council, made up of representatives from around the city, will work to support, promote and initiate programs on the subject and will receive the support of professionals and socio-economic organizations.

The aim is to form an activist group to promote the economic resilience of Jerusalem’s seniors. Among the duties of the council will be the task of putting the issue of seniors’ needs on the city’s agenda, identifying needs and building action plans, promoting urban moves to promote the economic resilience of the Jerusalem retirees, and more.

Hello and goodbye

Following the departure of Yoram Braverman, the long-time director of the Arts Culture Department at Safra Square, Tamar Berliner was appointed head of the department. Her appointment was approved recently by Mayor Moshe Lion and his CEO, Itzik Lary. Braverman was recently appointed CEO of the Khan Theater. 

Berliner, a resident of Nes Harim, has an MA in nonprofit management and a bachelor’s degree in geography and general studies, as well as a teaching certificate. Recently, she was the deputy-director general of the Tower of David Museum, where she managed and developed projects in the field of culture. She also served as director of culture and creativity at Beit Avi Chai. 

In the last two years, there has been a significant increase in the cultural budgets for the city, and Berliner will be able to develop and promote many programs. As for Braverman, it is hoped that he will encourage the artistic team of the Khan Theater to treat Jerusalem as the capital of the country and the seat of their theater, and not merely a side commitment in their schedule.

Renting or not?

Is the possibility of dedicating part of the new construction in the city to long-term rental starting to gain momentum? Activists in the field of construction and planning for the city, mostly in the framework of renewal projects, believe that this is exactly what the city needs to promote.

As a starting point, there are calls for such a project to be implemented in the White Ridge (Rechess Lavan) construction plan. The issue of construction in that area has been on the municipal agenda for about 20 years, amid fears of damage to the green areas, destruction of the springs in Emek Lavan, the expected development works at the Ora intersection, and more. 

For now, what is approved is a new neighborhood of approximately 5,000 housing units either according to the currently approved plan or according to the new plan promoted by the municipality, which will cover less space and utilize the land more optimally. It is hoped that all the new housing there will be marketed as rentals.

Drive me safely

Last Monday there was a demonstration at the municipality, organized by families of children with special needs, who advocated changes in the transportation system for special education children. Even coalition members joined this demonstration – a very unusual step when it comes to demonstrations against a situation for which the municipality is responsible. Members of the opposition also participated in the demonstration.

Parents said the system endangers children who are not able to protect themselves, whether it is actual harm or inappropriate conduct by transportation system personnel. Former staff members who came to support the parents talked about their experiences with drivers who smoked in the shuttle, began driving before children had tightened their seat belts, and drove at excessive speeds. Parents also expressed their concern about the length of the route between neighborhoods at different ends of the city, which can last over an hour and a half, since there are not enough shuttles to dispatch to different neighborhoods. 

The parents insisted that the municipality correct the current situation, and include the parents in future tenders. They also demanded increased enforcement to avoid extreme delays between shuttle routes, clarity regarding the budget, and the creation of a reserve transportation system for cases in which it is not possible for the shuttle operator to transport a child. ❖