The Jerusalem Municipality announced on Wednesday that the new Gazelle Valley Nature Park will be opening to the public just in time for the Pesach vacation.
Slated to open on March 30, Gazelle Valley stretches over 61 acres, and features five ponds, both natural and manmade, two flowing streams, bird and rodent watching areas, the natural habitat of untamed animals, a manmade island accessed via wooden bridges, and the park’s namesakes — dozens of wild gazelles roaming free.
The park will soon be open to the public, with free admission — as of Monday, March 30.
The new city park represents an innovative urban approach of open spaces located in the heart of the city, such as Central Park in New York, Hampstead Heath in London, and Parc St. Jacques in France. This approach, applied nowhere else in Israel, stresses the importance of creating a “green lung,” to replenish the oxygen supply in urbanized areas, composed of natural greenery and hosting a variety of animals and birds capable of living in the heart of an urban environment, to be enjoyed by city residents as well as visitors from Israel and abroad.
The area became known as “gazelle valley” for the herd of gazelles that inhabited the site. Over the years, the herd became trapped among busy highways, the Malka Mall and various residential projects, with no habitat left. The herd shrank to only five gazelles.
As the herd was dying off, real estate developers “discovered” the spot and applied for permission to build more high-rises there. In an unprecedented move, various segments of Yerushalayim’s population united — religious and secular, old-timers and new immigrants, members of the entire span of the political spectrum — with the help of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and other environmental groups and social activists. They began a fight against planning and zoning authorities to establish an urban nature park in the valley. Six years ago, Mayor Nir Barkat joined the struggle, and it was decided to found the first urban nature park of its kind in Israel.