Officially, it will be called Jerusalem Park, and it has been allocated NIS 250 million in funding and will ultimately include a continuous band of additional parkland in urban neighborhoods of the city.
Initial work began a few weeks ago in the Arazim Valley with the paving of bicycle paths that will eventually run throughout the Jerusalem Park. At other locations in the Arazim Valley, trees have begun to be planted.
Since 2009, a memorial to the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States has already been put in place in the park at an observation point. Plans for the Arazim Valley call for this portion of the park to provide a mix of recreational sites for public use and preservation of the natural setting. Facilities such as a lake, sports equipment and a horseback riding area will be concentrated at the southern end while the northern part of Arazim Valley site will remain almost totally in its natural state.
The plans for the Arazim Valley portion of the park, which are slated to be completed by 2017, are expected to be complicated by work on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem train line, which is to include a high-level bridge over the park as well as a train tunnel. Work is underway.
Development of the Arazim Valley portion of the park, for example, will require the expropriation of agricultural land. Anat Tzur, deputy director of the Jerusalem Development Authority, said a special corporate entity will also have to be set up to run the Jerusalem Park.
Plans also call for a botanical garden and overnight parking, but there will be no nighttime lighting in the park or vehicular traffic at night, to avoid disturbing area wildlife. Gazelles can be seen near the road that crosses the park. "Our intention is to leave more than 90 percent of the area in its natural state," said Itay Aharonson, who is one of the planners for a portion of the Arazim Valley.
There is already a national park in the Arazim Valley, Einot Telem, where conservation efforts aim to maintain the series of springs in the area. Agricultural terraces from various historical periods will also be preserved there.
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