Proposed J'lem haredi center nixed

Barkat: Multi-million dollar cultural center "an immense waste of money."

lupolianski 224.88  (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
lupolianski 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
A proposal floated by the Jerusalem Municipality to create an immense multi-million dollar haredi-only cultural center in Jerusalem has been nixed, the city said Thursday. The planned NIS 38 million segregated convention center was to have been even larger than the city's International Convention Center, with seating for 1,200 people and parking for 800 vehicles. The highly controversial idea, which was dubbed Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski's 'vision' on city documents, was first reported in the Jerusalem weekly Yerushalayim. The plans for the proposed center, drawn up the municipality's haredi cultural department, were obtained by The Jerusalem Post. In the past, Jerusalem's first haredi mayor has repeatedly stressed that he will not favor one section of the public at the expense of the other. The outlandish and grandiose city proposal, which was widely criticized by senior non-haredi city officials, was unlikely ever to have stood up to almost certain court appeals. Lupolianski spokesman Gidi Schmerling said Thursday that the municipal plan was nixed, noting it is not included in the 2006 city budget. He added that every year, dozens of such plans are drawn up by different city departments ahead of the annual budget, while only several proposals are actually approved. Jerusalem opposition leader Nir Barkat blasted the proposal as "an immense and completely unnecessary waste of money" coming at a time when many city halls stood empty. "How long will this farce last?" he said. Last year, city comptroller Shulamit Rubin found that the city rented out three buildings for haredi cultural activities at the price of NIS 1.9 million, but the buildings were never used, and the money was wasted.