When Does Economy Cease to Matter in Large-scale Park Design?
Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel
When do environmental projects ignore financial concerns? How does it happen that economic considerations, usually the crucial factor determining whether a project will rise or fall, are marginalized in the construction of a grand scale park? In mid 2005, the Israeli government decided to establish an 800 hectares park on the last vast open space that is located in the midst of the most densely populated area of the country, Metropolitan Tel Aviv. The approved scheme prohibited any residential or commercial construction within the park's boundaries, although it could have certainly financed this project, which will cost more than $100 million. The question of the means of funding the project was left for future bureaucrats, as is the inauguration of the park itself, scheduled to 2030 at the earliest.
This case study raises several questions regarding large parks and economics, as it juxtaposes common and traditional mechanisms for financing large parks with a unique example (or maybe not ). Based on reviews of planning documents and interviews with stakeholders, planners, and NGO members, this paper follows the history of the park planning, applying an economic analysis on the various alternatives and tracing the role of financial considerations in its various phases.
Despite the fact that detailed cost evaluations were prepared throughout the planning process, the analysis exposes the limited role of purely economic considerations in decision making, and reveals the "price" of ecological and national ideologies, as well as of pure political gestures, in shaping the stands of decision makers. The findings challenge the accepted role of economy in the process of making grand parks.
Following the insights in this unique case study, the paper concludes in a call for a new manner of considering the relation between economy and future large park design.