Tu B’Shvat in Tzur Hadassah: Pave a parking lot, put up paradise.

Yesterday, in the morning, walking through Tzur Hadassah, I noticed this:

And was all, WTF?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Why you gotta touch my beloved valley? Why do we have to dig up the pretty parts of Tzur Hadassah we clearly don’t need for more housing or community centers? Why can’t we haz a little nature left over?

Why a week before Tu B’shvat?!

Yesterday, in the afternoon, I got this email from the Va’ad Tarbut of Tzur Hadassah:

ט”ו בשבט בצור הדסה – יום שישי , 25/1/2013

השנה יתקיים לראשונה בצור הדסה אירוע ט”ו בשבט בו יקחו חלק כל בתי הספר בישוב.

האירוע הוא לכבוד חנוכת “הפארק הנעלם” בו ינטעו מאות עצים ושיחים מקומיים אשר יצרו חורש טבעי מרהיב.

10:00 חנוכת “הפארק הנעלם” צור הדסה – תלמידי והורי בתי הספר בישוב נוטעים בוואדי

And was all, oooooooooh.

Bottom line: They cleared the area because the students of all Tzur Hadassah schools will come together on Friday to plant new trees in what will be called ‘HaPark HaNe’elam’ or Hidden Park. The trees and shrubs to be used are local varieties. After the damage we’ve done so far to the view, in building the new school/community area, it’s nice to see some natural payback. Reason #95245 to like Tzur Hadassah: community appreciation for nature and values-building for our students.

To be continued…

The Tzur Hadassah contrast.

I live in a beautiful nature park-slash-construction zone.

Pretty sure that at any given time in the last year there are around a dozen construction sites within our town. The flagship of Tzur Hadassah construction would be the megatron community center/school district being built in the center, towards the valley. Har Kitron is good for a housing project or six. Shchunat HaMe’ah just finished a big sidewalk fix and has a couple other things that have been going on. The new park on the main road. The area just before the west gate. Behind the supermarket. And so on…

My only hope is that the areas meant to be preserved as nature zones truly remain that way.

Tzur Hadassah: under construction, naturally.

Tzur Hadassah update: It’s getting crowded in here, yo.

Boom, trach. The housing politics are exploding in Tzur Hadassah and its surroundings.

To sum up, there’s been a long-time-coming plan to build 1,500 apartment units in dense buildings 7-9 floors each, located on a plot of land considered part of Mavo Beitar, right across from Tzur Hadassah. Doing this would do three negative things, claims the Va’ad:

  1. Creates more traffic than the area can handle, in the directions of Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh.
  2. Kills the pluralistic look and feel of the area with the type of population it will attract.
  3. Will make Tzur Hadassah a more dense and populated area, changing its nature.

What’s right or wrong? The times, they are a-changin’ for sure. And with the housing crisis and protests going on across the country, I’m not sure the Va’ad will be able to prevent this decision  any longer (apparently it’s a plan 15 years in the making). 

Here’s the letter from the Va’ad:

נלחמים על הבית –רגע האמת הגיע

תושבים יקרים,

לאחר ניצחון בבית המשפט בסיבוב הקודם מגיעה תוכנית מקבת מבוא ביתר לדיון מחודש בועדה המחוזית לתכנון ובניה.

לפי התוכנית מתוכננת בניה של כ-1,500 יחידות דיור, במגדלים צפופים בעלי 7-9 קומות, דירות קטנות, עם מרפסות סוכה ומיעוט מבני ציבור.

התוכנית ממוקמת מצפון לכביש 375 בין הכניסה המזרחית לצור הדסה וצומת צור הדסה, בשטחים של המושב מבוא ביתר. בעתיד שכונת המקבת תהווה חלק אינטגרלי של צור הדסה ותשפיעה ישירות על הישוב.
התוכנית מקודמת מזה 15 שנה עי מנהל מקרקעי ישראלומדינת ישראל. מאבק של תושבי צור הדסה במשך כל השנים הצליח עד כה למנוע את יציאת הפרויקט לדרך.

הסכנות בפרויקט:

1. מערך התחבורה מצור הדסה לירושלים ולבית שמש יקרוס בגלל עומס תחבורה אדיר על הכבישים הקיימים היום. דוח תחבורה מיוחד שהוזמן עי ועדצור הדסה לקראת הדיון בועדה המחוזית קובע שכבר היום נפח התנועה בכבישים אילו נמצא בגבול היכולת האפשרית. הגדלת נפח התנועה יסכן בטיחותית את הנוסעים , יגרום לפקקים ויאריך את זמן ההגעה מצור הדסה ליעדים השונים.

2. אופי הבניה הופך את הפרויקט לאטקרקטיבי לעמותות המייצגות אוכלוסיות השונות לאופי הפלורליסטי של צור הדסה.

3. הבניה המאסיבית תפגע באופי הכפרי והקהילתי של צור הדסה והישוב יהפוך לשכונה עירונית צפופה.

אנו קוראים לכם, תושבי צור הדסה להגיע בהמוניכם לדיון ולהביע את מחאתכם מהתוכנית המטורפת .

 הנסיון מוכיח שנוכחות תושבים משפיעה באופן משמעותי על ההצבעה של חברי הועדה המחוזית.

הדיון המכריע יתקיים ביום שלישי הקרוב, 02.08.2011, בשעה 14:30 ברחשלומציון המלכה 1, ירושלים, מעל המשרד לחידוש דרכונים של משרד הפנים.

ועד צור הדסה


Tzur Hadassah update: Small town news.

On Shabbat, I met a couple that is considering moving to צור הדסה and found information about it right here. Not much out there about this yishuv, in English or Hebrew, so I’m happy to fill in when needed.

But I realize I haven’t updated properly in a while, and we have some ‘drama’ going on, as well as accomplishments/planned accomplishments brewing.

So here goes, a Tzur Hadassah update:

Secular high school

Ground broke this year on the building of a secular high school; up until now it’s been grades aleph through chet. From what I’ve heard, high school students have begun learning here in temporary situations while the building gets built, presumably over the course of this year.

Religious elementary school

Last year, a dati elementary school was started in the area. The school is not actually located in the yishuv, but in Bar Giyora nearby, where there was a vacancy. It services students from around the area, and is up to kita gimmel at this point (in its second year). From my understanding, it’s not just religious families who send their kids there, but also traditional and secular, who want a Jewish base to their kids’ educations.

Community center TBD

There have been talks and plans for the ground-breaking of a community center, which would include a pool. The location for the building has been chosen (towards the valley, inside the U of the yishuv) and ‘they say’ that will begin in the next couple years.

New construction controversy

Small town drama? Not really, if some governmentals, architects, planners, and realtors get their way. Then it’ll be much-bigger-town drama. And demographic-completely-altered town drama.

I don’t know the nitty-gritty details, so everything I tell is from what I’ve heard and seen in emails to me by the va’ad of Tzur Hadassah.

There are plans to expand the yishuv in ways that would totally alter its character. There are a lot of kablanim hungry to build here; desired location, lots of potential, etc. The local va’ad is trying to stop it, or at least halt it, which I heard they have succeeded in doing by appealing in court.

But I’m not sure the relationship of that information with the following, which seems a lot more imminent:

There are also plans to build a new section to Tzur Hadassah for 1400+ families, which would be located across the main road, next to Mavo Beitar (a quiet, small yishuv behind the Delek gas station). This community, apparently, would be bigger in land area than Jerusalem’s Gilo, filled with apartments, and would cater to – and be offered to – the well-off charedi public. In fact, according to what I read, the only public services offered in the building plans were four synagogues. No parks.

If this happened, there are a lot of downsides spelled out by the local admin here, including: limited to no public transportation (I presume that would change), clogging of the area’s main roads, and severe altering of the character of surrounding communities, which range from pretty much secular to moderately traditional, with a few dati leumis sprinkled about.

That last bit hits a sensitive nerve in Tzur Hadassah; it is joked that Beitar Illit, the ultra-Charedi yishuv next door, over the Green Line, is trying to turn Tzur Hadassah into ‘Giva’a Gimmel’ with all their expanding going on.

Many who hear I live in Tzur Hadassah comment on the same point: Don’t they hate religious people there? I don’t think it’s that they hate religious people necessarily;  I think they want to live free from the influences of that lifestyle, namely Charedi lifestyle, which will cramp their own. They don’t want the character they’ve built to change. They don’t want to be put in a position where they have to start sacrificing for something that doesn’t interest them.

Which I can understand, though I do believe it’s important to know your neighbors and promote tolerance, living among diversity, for the sake of balance and your children’s education.

Which is why I live here, by the way.

Once in a lifetime.

It’s not every day – nay, every month – wait, every year?  – that you see something like this on an Israeli construction site:

Amazing, isn’t it? סיימנו. It’s just a word, but it’s a whole lot more, too. ‘We completed it.’ What a feeling! What a way to be!

On top of that, the road really experienced a major improvement, so kol hakavod, road-work authority.

By the way, notice the woman construction worker in the right hand corner of the sign. You like how her eyes and lips are blacked out? Not sure if it was the local Charedis or Muslims, but I’m putting my money on the former.