Urban renewal Brings Jews and Arabs Together in Haifa

new plan for haifa's arab and jewish residents illustration

At the centre of a historic city and seconds away from the Mediterranean Sea, you’d probably expect upscale-neighbourhoods with wealthy residents to match. “But it’s not like that in Haifa,” says Avigail Dolev, urban planner for the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI).

“All the neighbourhoods located on the seashore are very neglected,” she told Green Prophet this week – and that includes the mixed Jewish-Arab district of Ein HaYam, meaning Eye of the Sea. But in the last year the neighbourhood’s residents – used to grumbling about the dilapidated pavements, broken sewage pipes and lack of access to green areas (see photo below) – are rejoicing at the renewal of their urban environment.

haifa arab jewish city pollution photo

To the residents’ surprise, the Haifa Municipality accepted a plan they drew up with the SPNI to renew their neighbourhood. Since it was put into action a year ago, a green promenade for pedestrians and cyclists has been built to the north of the neighbourhood, acting as a buffer between the adjacent Route 4 highway and railway line which run between the houses and the sea, thus linking Ein HaYam to the beach and other neighbourhoods.

Work is due to get underway soon on the interior of the neighbourhood, including playgrounds, public gardens and improvements in parking facilities, which currently forces cars on the pavements.

“The connection between the sites is important so the citizens can use the open space to get to go along the beach,” Dolev adds. “In Haifa, there is not a lot of open space and this in an opportunity to give citizens open space along the shore and connect neighbours.”

:: J Post, Taking matters into their own hands.

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