The Ariel Sharon Park near Tel Aviv, named after the late prime minister, was officially inaugurated with a public ceremony on Tuesday morning. The event was attended by several of Ariel Sharon’s grandchildren, who planted saplings from the late leader’s Sycamore Ranch.
The massive park, which has been under construction for several years, is due to open in stages and will be three times the size of New York’s Central Park when completed. Built from cutting-edge environmental designs, the park is situated on top of the Hiriya, a massive public landfill that was used as a dumping site from the 1950s until 2000.
The Hiriya landfill, which was the site of an Arab village whose residents fled during the 1948 War of Independence, grew over the years to an enormous height and became an eyesore and public nuisance. At one point before use of the site was discontinued, the flocks of birds attracted to the garbage threatened the safety of airplanes landing and taking off from Ben-Gurion airport.
The park, built upon the 60-meter-high garbage pile, offers spectacular 360 degree views of Tel Aviv and central Israel, and is to include kilometers of extreme bike paths and golf cart tracks, a host of birdwatching opportunities, sports fields, a 50,000-seat amphitheater for summer concerts and performances, a lake, picnic areas and fields with room to romp and frolic.
Jessica Steinberg contributed to this report.