Habima's planned facelift

The Tel Aviv Local Planning and Construction Committee approved plans for renovating the Habima National Theater building, although it remains uncertain how they will be financed.

According to the Hebrew weekly Tel Aviv, the budget has yet to be estimated. However, there is no doubt that the renovation is essential, since the theater has already been threatened with closure because of its rundown condition. Under a plan developed by the Ram Carmi architectural office, an additional floor will be added to the central section of the building that houses rehearsal studios, workshops and offices. The ramp and ticket offices in front of the building and on its eastern side will be replaced by a high lobby with columns and rounded fa ade. Changes are also planned for the southern fa ade facing Sderot Rothschild. The caf in the lobby will be removed, with additional stairways and passages, making the halls more accessible. Planning and Construction Committee chair Doron Sapir explained that the renovation is intended to provide better service to theatergoers and resolve several safety issues. Negligence suit against Ichilov A Tel Aviv resident and former manager of a large public company is suing Ichilov Hospital for malpractice, reports Tel Aviv. The complainant underwent heart surgery in 1983 and remained in good health for many years thereafter. Two years ago he was hospitalized again after complaining of discomfort in his chest and losing consciousness. Three days later, his right leg was amputated. According to the suit filed by attorneys Haim Zilchov and Inbal Attias, four hours passed from the time he reached the emergency room until testing was completed. The tests found that he suffered from a tear in the aorta which, the suit claims, should have been operated on immediately. Instead, more tests were conducted and the delay allegedly caused the death of tissue that later led to the need to amputate. SHARON Ramat Hasharon gives a helping hand In a quick response to the heated security situation on the northern border, Ramat Hasharon had recruited 50 families by Monday to offer hospitality to children and families from northern communities facing a barrage of Hizbullah missiles. The municipality, community centers, Tennis Center and Kfar Hayarok Youth Village are providing activities for children taking refuge in the city. Deputy Mayor Nurit Avner is coordinating the city's efforts and making contact with responsible parties in the north to ensure that children are transported safely and are properly cared for. According to a municipal press release, Mayor Yitzhak Rochberger was among the first volunteers to offer their homes. In addition, volunteers have been posted in supermarkets to encourage shoppers to purchase goods to be sent to soldiers on the northern front. Potential hosts and guests should call (03) 548-3819. Marina seeping, residents seething Residents of apartments in Herzliya's Marina Village are complaining of noise, dirt, water seeping into the foundations and dropping property prices. Tzomet Hasharon reports that seawater is seeping into the exterior walls of the lower-level parking garage - particularly on the western and northern sides - and rust stains are evident along the ceiling. Two rows of stone facing have been removed to treat the dampness. Residents' committee representative Eilon Diskin has written to Mayor Yael German complaining that the license granted for the project specified that the stores would not be used as restaurants, but most of the storefronts facing the sea are now restaurants. This reduces property values in the apartments due to smells and noise that continue late into the night. Diskin also complains that some apartments are being used as a maritime school, while other shops have become warehouses. Residents who have been trying to sell the apartments this summer reported that values have declined, and they fear they will drop even lower. The situation is further complicated by an outstanding High Court decision requiring that apartments in the marina complex be used only as vacation apartments - as originally zoned - and not for year-round residence. However, implementation of this decision has been delayed pending appeals. Illegal industrial area on Ra'anana-Herzliya border An illegal industrial estate is operating on the western edge of Ra'anana close to the border with Herzliya, according to Zman Hasharon. Even though the area falls under Ra'anana's jurisdiction, the city ignores the unlicensed activity despite explicit instructions from the municipal comptroller. The area borders Herzliya's Shaviv neighborhood, and Herzliya supplies electricity and municipal services, while Ra'anana collects municipal property taxes and licenses the businesses. Only one business operating at the site - a garage - has a license. The unlicensed establishments include a gas station, a building supplies store and the offices of a garbage collection company that also stores empty garbage dumpsters there. According to the paper, the garbage collection contractor has worked for both cities for many years. Off the record, several sources in city hall revealed that he is closely connected to top officials. Deputy Mayor Uzi Cohen admitted that he has visited the contractor at his home, which is also in the industrial area, but claimed not to have noticed any business activity at the site. Although the contractor has officially notified the city of his intention to relocate from the site, his business remains active. A Ra'anana municipal spokesperson responded that the city will again check that all of the businesses in the area are properly licensed. Another accident at Herzliya airport The fourth and most serious accident in 10 days at Herzliya airport took place last Wednesday. A 52-year-old student pilot from Kfar Saba on his maiden solo flight crashed into a tractor at the eastern end of the runway, close to the airfield's perimeter fence. The airplane burst into flames, but the pilot managed to escape and was rushed to Beilinson Hospital in moderate condition. The airport was closed for a day following the accident. An investigation found that the landing had probably been executed poorly, and the front propeller hit the ground before landing, causing the pilot to lose control. According to Tzomet Hasharon, the frequency of accidents has encouraged neighbors to step up their protests against continued use of the airport, which is located near densely populated residential neighborhoods. Local residents noted that the High Court has ruled that instructional activity at the airport should be kept to a minimum to reduce the number of dangerous situations. New interchange for Or Akiva A new interchange is being planned to connect Or Akiva directly to the Coastal Highway (Route 2), reports local.co.il. Travel time from Or Akiva to the highway could be reduced from 20 minutes to as few as three. Or Akiva residents are pleased with the plan, but residents of nearby Caesarea fear their property values will drop and are considering taking legal action. They are also demanding that acoustic walls be constructed along the road to minimize noise. Meanwhile, work is continuing on upgrading the Caesarea interchange between the Coastal Highway and Route 65. Drivers should pay attention to signs and announcements of occasional nighttime closures. Herzliya reopens two post offices The Israel Postal Authority (IPA) announced last week that two Herzliya post offices on Rehov Sokolov and the city's industrial estate have been reopened. This brings the number of active post offices in Herzliya to eight. "The Postal Authority will continue to closely monitor the quality of mail service in Herzliya and improve the service in the future," promised IPA general manager Avi Hochman. HAIFA Opposition to Yahav mounting Former Haifa mayor Amram Mitzna and councilor Baruch Saltz, who also serves as regional head of the Histadrut labor union, have met several times in recent weeks. Yediot Haifa reports that the two confirm the meetings but refuse to comment on the content of their discussions. But rumors persist that they are exploring ways to oust Mayor Yona Yahav from City Hall during the next municipal elections in two and a half years. Kiryat Haim committee head Itzhak Peterman is also rumored to have been involved in the meetings. Mitzna also denied recent media reports that he is interested in returning to head the Haifa municipality. Associates of Yahav are said to be unconcerned by the rumors. Some Likud members in Haifa are asking that their party begin the process of designating a mayoral candidate, while others feel it is too soon. Rare turtle found near Kishon A rare, soft-shelled turtle was discovered during a routine inspection of the Kishon River last week. According to Yediot Haifa, Kishon River Authority environmental engineer Gil Gutman and inspector Alon Ben-Meir found the unusual specimen. They measured the turtle, photographed it and returned it to the water. The paper did not name the species. According to the manager of the Kishon River Authority, Sharon Nissim, this particular type of turtle is quite rare in the coastal area, but the authority has been working together with the Nature and Parks Authority to return several varieties of turtles to their natural environment. She further noted that the appearance of the soft-shell turtle in the Kishon is clear evidence of the improved environmental quality there during recent years, even though there is still much work to be done.