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Committee advances plans to expand Ariel Sharon Park, central Israel’s ‘green lung’

Park to incorporate drainage system, reservoirs to ease flooding of Ayalon basin and allow construction of new rail track; will include paths for pedestrians as well as cycle lanes

Pergolas shade the overlook at Ariel Sharon Park. (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)
Pergolas shade the overlook at Ariel Sharon Park. (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)

A Tel Aviv regional planning committee is pushing ahead with plans to significantly expand Ariel Sharon Park, creating what has been described as a “green lung” for central Israel.

According to Channel 12 news, the first phase of construction of the extension of the park is set to begin in the coming months and will take around four years.

Channel 12, which published the plans (Hebrew) on Tuesday, said the park’s design will not only have environmental impact, but will also play a role in the national program to improve public transportation.

The park will include a system of drains and reservoirs that will collect the excess rainwater from the area.

Currently, much of the excess rainwater from the center of the country and the Judean Hills flows into the Ayalon canal, and the expanded park is designed to not only reduce flooding in the area, but also enable the construction of a new railway track along the Ayalon basin, improving transportation links to the center of the country.

The report said the plans will expand the existing park to an area of around 5,500 dunams (around two square miles) and include areas for pedestrians as well as cycle paths.

The view of agricultural land and the Tel Aviv skyline from the Ariel Sharon Park on June 7, 2013. (Isaac Harari/ FLASH90)

There will be pedestrian access from the surrounding towns and cities of Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan, Or Yehuda, and Azor.

The construction and landscaping for the project will focus on the use of sustainable materials, particularly for the carpentry work.

“We welcome the completion of another phase in the advancement of the establishing the ‘Central Park’ of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, which will be a space for nature, breathing and relaxation in the heart of a crowded metropolis for residents and future generations,” Chair of the Tel Aviv District Planning and Building Commission Daniella Posek told Channel 12.

Ariel Sharon Park was constructed atop the former Hiriya landfill, which was used as a massive dumping site from the 1950s until 2000.

The Hiriya landfill on April 11, 2008. (GILI YAARI /FLASH90)

The landfill, originally the site of an Arab village, 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.

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