CITY NOTES: Stef Wertheimer to open museum conference at Tefen’s Open Museum

Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz last week appealed the decision of a ministerial committee to approve a proposed railway route from Tel Aviv to Eilat.

Bike festival encourages people to explore the Galilee area (photo credit: David Smith)
Bike festival encourages people to explore the Galilee area
(photo credit: David Smith)
Israeli entrepreneur Stef Wertheimer was slated to open the International Council of Museums annual conference this week at the Open Museum of Israeli Art, which is located in Tefen Industrial Park in the Western Galilee.
The Open Museum embodies the vision of Wertheimer and is a center for creative activity in industry, culture, art, nature and education. The purpose of the conference is to increase public awareness of the museum’s important role in the area as well as to heighten awareness of other local museums in the periphery.
After the opening event, participants were expected to take part in organized guided tours of other local museums in the Galilee area such as the German-Speaking Jewry Museum in Tefen, the Bar-David Museum of Jewish Art and Judaica in Bar’am and Beit Hameiri in Safed, among others.
Thousands enjoy Riding Galilee 2 bicycling festival
Thousands of people took part in the first week of the Riding Galilee 2 bicycling festival last week, taking advantage of the many events and activities catering to bicycle riders.
The festival, which is being organized by the Culture and Sport Ministry, the Galilee Development Authority and the Negev and Galilee Development Ministry as well as other official bodies, is taking place throughout the whole month of October and encourages people of all ages to get on their bikes and explore the Galilee area.
Over 7,000 people participated in the opening event last week in the Carmel, with an emotional bike ride and gathering in memory of fallen Druse soldiers.
This weekend, hundreds of riders are expected to take part in the Sovev Tivon event in the Kiryat Tivon area on a number of different courses, including a challenging 20-km. track as well as an 8-km. track for families.
Court orders closure of Kiryat Bialik recycling plant
A civil court in Haifa has ordered the closure of Compost Bay and Western Galilee recycling plant in Kiryat Bialik after the owners failed to deal sufficiently with environmental hazards. The court ruled that the owners did not implement the necessary measures to deal with the Environmental Protection Ministry’s orders to control water pollution, untreated waste, soil contamination and bad odors.
The ministry said that it had received dozens of complaints from local residents and factory owners over the past two years regarding odors from the compost site.
After visiting the site about a month ago, inspectors concluded that the drainage infrastructure in place was clogged with waste. According to the ministry, this indicated that polluting liquids were not being correctly redirected.
The Environmental Protection Ministry will oversee the closure of the site, including removal of waste from the area.
Tel-O-Fun bike-sharing scheme reaches 5 million rentals
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai awarded a free yearly subscription for the city’s Tel-O-Fun bike-sharing initiative to Gali Keren, who rented the bike that took the scheme’s total rentals to 5 million, the Tel Aviv Municipality announced this week.
To celebrate the momentous occasion, Huldai met with Keren, who is a Tel Aviv resident, to hand her the yearly subscription as well as a small sculpture of a young woman riding a Tel-O-Fun bike.
Since its launch in May 2011, some 17,000 people have purchased annual subscriptions; an average of 781 daily subscriptions are registered each day and nearly 10,000 bikes are rented on average per day.
Petition against building plan at Sde Dov rejected
The National Council for Planning and Building last week rejected a number of petitions against the approval of a plan to build a large residential complex on the site of Tel Aviv’s Sde Dov Airport after it closes.
As part of the plan, named TA 3700, the land where the airport currently sits will be cleared and used to develop new buildings, which will contain some 12,000 housing units, commercial space and hotels.
The council stated it was not legitimate to cancel the plan and to prepare a new one because it was already in its advanced stages.
Despite rejecting the petition, the council stated that those who own land on the site to the south of the airport will receive additional building rights when the area is cleared.
Peretz appeals committee approval of Tel Aviv-Eilat railway route
Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz last week appealed the decision of a ministerial committee to approve a proposed railway route from Tel Aviv to Eilat.
According to Peretz, those on the Ministerial Committee for Internal Affairs, Services and Local Government who voted for the plan were not presented with an environmental impact assessment detailing how the city of Eilat and its surroundings would be affected by the train.
Peretz was the only minister to vote against approval of the proposed route at last week’s cabinet meeting.
As part of the widespread plan, a port for cargo ships will be built and cargo unloaded in Eilat would be sent by rail to Israeli ports, and from there to Europe. Construction of a port of this kind, according to experts, could destroy the unique coral reef in the Gulf of Eilat.
“As someone who has worked all his life for development in the Negev, I intend to continue to protect the interests of the Negev and the periphery,” Peretz said in defense of decision. “While improvements in transportation to these areas are certainly worthwhile, the current train project can cause great and irreversible harm.”
Peretz stressed the importance of presenting ministers with a comprehensive analysis of the implications of the project. “While this railway project would be the largest and most expensive transportation project ever to be carried out in Israel, the fast track to approve it could become a fast track to the destruction of nature and tourism in the entire southern Negev region, particularly in Eilat,” he said.
Top international forestry officials visit local forests
A group of top international forestry officials visited the “Ambassadors’ Forest” just north of Beersheba last week, as part of a trip to learn about Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund’s method of afforestation in arid and semi-arid regions. The delegation included three key officials of the Silva Mediterranea Forum on Mediterranean Forestry and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), who arrived in Israel as guests of KKL-JNF for an intensive five-day visit.
“I am certain that in spite of the political difficulties that might exist between Israel and some of the Mediterranean countries, Silva Mediterranea can provide a forum for shared research and exchange of knowledge between KKL-JNF and many of our members,” said FAO forestry officer Christophe Besacier.
KKL-JNF chief forester David Brand noted that the visit signified the beginning of a close and fruitful collaboration between KKL-JNF and Silva Mediterranea. “Although Israel is a small country, KKL-JNF has unprecedented experience in the field of afforestation in semi-arid and desert regions,” he said.
As part of the trip, the officials also visited a number of other KKL-JNF sites throughout the country, including the Carmel Forest in the North and Sataf Springs near Jerusalem.