Tzur Hadassah update: New pool, new bus, new neighborhood, new park, and… Swiper.

It’s been a while! Plenty to update on Tzur Hadassah. In no particular order, except for saving the weirdest for last… five bits of small town news:

1. THE Tzur Hadassah Pool

You’re not a true Tzur Hadassian if you’re not already putting on your floaties in impatient anticipation for the new pool, possibly making its debut next summer and supposedly being completed by December 2014.

Tzur Hadassah's new pool: December 2014

Here’s where they’re doing the construction; not sure exactly where the pool will be housed, because this entire area will also include a recreational area and more.

2. New bus line and tremp stations

Last month the Illit bus company (that runs from Beitar Illit) established a new Bet Shemesh line, the 138. It’s an express line to the Bet Shemesh train station, stops at the entrances to Tzur Hadassah, and the line is public, so seating is mixed.

By the way, months back, we had an upgrade in our two ‘trempiadia’ stations at either gate.

Tremp stations in tzur Hadassah

There’s also been a project of putting up new signage throughout the town, now that we have more local ‘attractions.’

3. New neighborhood

Remember this? They’ve been carving out the space for the new monster apartment complex to go up behind the Mavo area. It seems from the look of it that this new neighborhood will be even closer to the security fence.

New neighborhood construction in Tzur Hadassah

4. Park Yuval

Yuval Yohanan was a teenage born and bred in Tzur Hadassah, who died of cancer earlier in the year. Her family decided to create this serene park space in her memory, in the ‘valley’ between main Tzur and Har Kitron. It’s nearly finished.

Park Yuval in Tzur Hadassah

The plan is actually to ‘activate’ that entire valley space with different sections of park and fields. There is a sign outlining the plan, but it isn’t all that clear. I hope it remains as beautiful and quiet as it does today… I like to walk there sometimes and rarely see anyone else around. Go deep enough, and shock – there is no trace of litter anywhere.

5. Swiper

The story I’ve heard goes like this: the head of the va’ad was given a Swiper the Fox keychain (of Dora fame) by one of his nieces… or a daughter? He thought, ‘this here is a fine creature to have sculpted for the grassy area across from the school…’ and so it was done.

Swiper statue in Tzur Hadassah

At least we’ve got character!

P.S. The pizza place closed, and Cafe Cafe opened… at the shopping center/gas station outside the machsom. Havaleh, the farm cafe inside Tzur Hadassah, is still going.

Sunday drivers: Taking it slow for freedom in Tzur Hadassah.

And now, in local news: The continuation of the housing/construction war that’s being waged in and around Tsur Hadassah.

The Makbat is planned high density housing towers that have permission to be built across the street from Tzur Hadassah near the Delek station and are planned to be part of Tzur Hadassah, not part of Mevo Beitar. They have permission to build 900 units – small apartments, high density. Tzur Hadassah has been fighting this for 17 years and will continue. Yair Kamaiski is the person who leads this, with the backing of the va’ad of the town. The next court hearing, at which citizens are encouraged to show up, is February 2.

Below is the official notice with Q&A about the issues and the protest scheduled for this Sunday, January 15, at 7:15am. Basically, show up with your car between Tzur Hadassah and the tunnels towards Jerusalem and join the slow-moving traffic blob of Sunday drivers  in order to prove the kind of heavy-density traffic that will become every day routine if thousands more people join this area without infrastructure changes. Folks from Gush Etzion are also invited, as they will be affected by the changes in traffic patterns too.

Also, see the organizers’ Facebook page [Hebrew].

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.