04/03/2012 05:51
ILA removes main obstacle that had been delaying further development of Ariel Sharon Park.

The Israel Lands Administration transferred 120 hectares (297 acres) of land from a private company to the Ariel Sharon Park Company over the weekend, achieving a “green dream of Gush Dan,” the Environmental Protection Ministry said.

The ILA board and the company Hazera signed an agreement that by the end of the year, Hazera will deliver custody of the park lands to the government- owned park company, the ministry announced on Sunday evening. In doing so, the ILA removed the main obstacle that had been delaying further development of the park, and put an end to years of litigation between Hazera and the state, the ministry said. The agreement will enable the completion of a geographical network of open greenery surrounding the rehabilitated garbage mountain, according to the ministry.

“Besides the geography continuity that will be created between open spaces and the garbage mountain itself, which is these days open to visitors, the areas that will be transmitted are a layer of the central vision of development in the heart of the park,” said Esti Appelbaum-Polani, chairman of Ariel Sharon Park, in a statement released by her office.

As part of this vision, the Ariel Sharon Park Company will bring its total holdings to 300 out of the 800 hectares of land on the site, and will construct an amphitheater for about 50,000 people, a large lake surrounded by a boardwalk, recreation centers, a center for biodiversity and a bird-watching station, Appelbaum-Polani said. The park will be for the benefit of around 2.5 million Gush Dan area residents, the company said.

“In the achievement of the arrangement, there is a strategic importance that allows for the preservation of open space in the park without building, thanks to the support of the Environmental Protection Ministry and the Finance Ministry,” Appelbaum- Polani said.

The transfer of the park to company hands was equally important in the eyes of the Environmental Protection Ministry, and its minister, Gilad Erdan, called the achievement a step toward “transforming Hiriya into Israel’s ‘Central Park,’ which will benefit millions of citizens,” in a statement released by his office.

“This is a national project and I will continue to accompany it personally in order to remove every barrier and bureaucratic obstacle and allow for the public to enjoy a green lung in the heart of Gush Dan as soon as possible,” Erdan said.