(November 29, 1999)
Since the village is currently deeply involved in a variety of building and development projects, this is an opportune time to produce a detailed report. Some projects are nearing completion, others require an additional investment. NSWAS Building Manager Ilan Frisch, Development Fundraiser Daoud Boulos and Secretary Rayek Rizek, were interviewed for this report.
In order to allow easier and less dangerous access to the school by the fifteen or more minibuses that arrive twice daily to transport pupils from outside, we have been working on a second entrance to the village that will serve the school. The cost of this project is expected to reach approximately $30,000. We still need an additional $12,000 in order to complete it. Since we must do the work now, before the winter rains, this will throw our budget into deficit. (Later, we will need to spend an additional $5,000 in order to fulfill certain conditions of the Transport Ministry relating to school transport).
In order to take advantage of the presence of a road paving company in the village, we will pave another four roads that total several hundred meters in length, to serve areas of the village currently reached by dirt roads. The majority of the funding for these roads will come from levies paid to the village by the residents themselves.
One important new road remains contingent upon the submission and acceptance of the new master plan. The road is intended to cut below the hotel and reach new houses now being built on the northeastern slope of the hilltop. The road is required also for infrastructure, such as a new electric line, telephones, water, sewers, etc. Yet the main obstacle to the new road is not the lack of a master plan but the lack of funding. While residents can be expected to pay for the paving of roads and provision of infrastructure close to their homes, they cannot be asked to finance access roads and central infrastructure requirements that service functions central to the overall requirements of the Village. In a small community like Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, this remains a major difficulty and impediment to development, and we have no recourse but to appeal to friends and supporters for financial assistance.
Another infrastructure need, in conjunction with new housing construction, is the extension of the existing sewer line and creation of a new sewage treatment installation at its terminus.
The "Peace Campus"
The preliminary plan for the peace campus has now been approved, somewhat quicker than expected, by the District Planning and Building Commission. This greatly improves the prospects of obtaining final approval by the National Planning and Building Commission – the final step on the bureaucratic ladder. The approval is for the entire plan of 53,000 sq. meters (13.4 acres), including the larger portion that must be requisitioned from State lands. The approval is subject to certain conditions, which we are now addressing.
With regard to the planning of the Campus, we have decided to seek a new architect for the overall building plan, rather than to accept the suggestions proffered by the company with which we have worked till now on the plans. We will continue to use the services of the current company in our approaches to State authorities. Planning of the individual buildings of the Campus will only take place upon final approval by State Authorities, and may involve an international architectural contest.
Hall/Indoor Sports Facility for the School
The NS/WAS primary school building lacks two functions considered basic for all schools: an indoor sports facility, and a hall for assemblies, plays, gatherings and other activities for students and parents.
Part of the school playground has been paved and upgraded into a ball game court. The area is 200 square meters (65,000 sq. ft). The plan is to erect a building over this paved area to be used by the school for the various recreational activities mentioned above. After checking all building options, it has been decided to opt for a lightweight insulated steel construction. This method has been found most suitable for the purpose and the fastest to accomplish. The basic construction, including doors and windows, engineering plans, and taxes, will cost $65,000. For funding we will appeal to the Matteh Yehuda Regional Council to make a recommendation to the State Lottery, which sometimes funds such projects in Israel, and we are also hoping to interest our private supporters in the project.
New School Building
The school has set a target of progressing up to junior high school level, and for the past four years has been working towards this target by absorbing each year a larger group at the first grade level. Each year, two first grade classes have been added. Though this system should ensure the continuation of the school up to the seventh grade level by the 2002-03 school year, it has placed a strain on our facilities, even before the school reaches the junior high school level. Last year, as well as this year, it became necessary to add classroom space by making impromptu additions to the existing school building. All the while, we have been planning, and seeking funds for, a new school building. The new building will provide not only classroom space but the means to establish a resource and training center for Jewish – Arab bilingual education in Israel.
Now, finally, there is a plan, and a commitment to cover at least part of the cost required. In designing the building, the school management looked at the needs of the children's educational system as an organic whole, from kindergarten to junior high school levels, and came up with a design that will provide the necessary class room space to expand the school up to and including the 9th grade level, and add facilities from which all age groups will benefit. The plan has been finalized by NSWAS and will now be submitted to the State authorities for approval. The plan calls for two phases of construction. The first stage comprises 935 square meters, for classrooms and other high-priority needs. The second stage will comprise 265 square meters, for administrative offices and other functions. At current prices, the total construction cost may be in the region of one million dollars. However, there are too many factors (such as additional demands that may arise from the State authorities, and fluctuations in the cost of building index) to give a reliable figure at this time. A more accurate figure will be obtained after instituting a building tender.
The auditorium has now been completed, although landscaping - including paths, green areas, etc., still needs to be accomplished. The minimum landscaping required includes paving, lighting, drainage and other works up to a distance of four meters around the building. This will cost approximately $15,000. Landscaping for the remaining land will cost an additional 5,000 to 15,000 dollars. These landscaping needs go beyond the original funding and will require the investment of another $20,000, for which we need to find a funding source. The portion of the original budget intended for landscaping was spent on some unforeseen expenses, such as the necessity to conduct an archeological dig prior to construction and the building of a support wall. In addition, a part of the original budget was used to create new parking areas, required in order to license the building. Additional costs now needed include interior design, furniture and drapery. We have also just been informed that we will need to pay a betterment tax in the sum of $9,000.
We are now discussing the use and management of the auditorium, since there is already interest from various groups who would like to use it.
The Robert Nathan Wing
Detail of some of the areas and projects mentioned in this report
Work on the new school access road
Suggested model for the Peace Campus (detail of 12,000 sq. m.)
School ball court
Model of the new school building
Intended site for the new SFP wing
Plan for the new Doumia/Sakina building
The hotel lobby today. The plan calls for enclosing the balcony (below)
The school children meeting in the Youth Club for a yoga class.
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