The Haifa District Planning and Building Committee last week approved the plan to build a park near the Kishon stream, on an area of about 608 dunams. It will be the largest park to be approved to date in the Haifa metropolitan area, and will eventually be expanded to include additional areas in the eastern part of the stream.
The plan, initiated jointly by the Haifa municipality and the Kishon Stream Authority, proposes construction of a park along the slope of the Kishon. It includes several centers for leisure activities, with a visitors’ center, a sailing club, sports fields, public parks, restaurants, and paths for pedestrians and bicycles. In some areas no construction will be permitted, and the rare and unique natural features of the estuary will be preserved along the length of the stream.
“This is an important achievement for Haifa area residents, who will benefit from a green lung along one of the longest streams in Israel,” said Haifa district planner Liat Peled. “The park is part of a sequence of open areas all along the Kishon. It is also connected to the path of the Gedura stream that leads to the future park in the Krayot [Haifa satellite towns] and together they will create a varied network of open spaces for the enjoyment of metropolitan Haifa residents.”
The Israel Ports Company submitted an opposition to the construction of the park. The company has rights to the land planned for construction, which it planned to use for baggage storage, and has yet to receive alternative land, as promised. The district committee examined the agreement reached by the relevant bodies to locate such areas, and decided to approve the plan for a park, after being convinced that it suits the plans of the Israel Ports company.
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The Kishon stream park is also designed to ensure protection of some of the untouched areas still remaining in the region, almost all of which has become a commercial and industrial area. In recent years there has been an improvement in the quality of the water in the stream after the factories along it were forced to improve the quality of the sewage that flows into it. There riverbed was also widened and cleansed of the pollution that accumulated over the years. A small park was built near the fisherman’s anchorage, and will be connected to the new park.
In response to the committee decision, Kishon Stream Authority Director Sharon Nissim said: “We welcome the approval of the plan initiated by the authority, for which it fought for years. Yet we still don’t know all the details.” She said that the authority had asked the planning committee to include the eucalyptus trees as part of the park, as agreed in the past with the Israel Ports Company, to widen the green corridor on the southern bank of the stream, and to reduce the commercial areas that are part of the plan. She expressed regret that the committee had not accepted most of their opposition.
Nissim expressed a hope that in future the Kishon Stream Authority will be able to bring about the expansion of the park, and called on the authorities in the area to help to obtain the budgets necessary for developing it.