The Jerusalem District Planning and Construction Committee has formally approved the plans for a 64-acre urban park in Gazelle Valley. This follows last year’s decision by the committee that the area be slated for nature preservation rather than construction, and puts an end to a nine-year struggle.
The struggle was a grassroots effort led by the residents of the nearby Katamonim neighborhood, one of the city's most disadvantaged districts, who were empowered by NIF grantees including Community Advocacy: Genesis Israel. The Society for Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI), supported by NIF through the Green Environment Fund (GEF), has been active in planning the new park, which is backed by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.
Residents from the Katamonim neighborhood waged a successful campaign in 2001 to save Gazelle Valley from the developers.
The committee threw out the objections of several kibbutzim, which claim ownership of the land, and want the area re-zoned for commercial development. The new park will include footpaths, bicycle tracks and lookout points.
SPNI Spokesman Amir Balaban said, “I don’t know of a greater environmental drama than the story of this valley. We have been seesawing between euphoria and despair for many years now. But finally we have triumphed.”