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December 29, 1989 - Image 33

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-12-29

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Oak Park Mayor Charlotte Rothstein hopes
1-696 will bring even more apartments to the
city. Although she expects the Jewish popula-
tion to remain steady at about 40 percent, she
believes the city's population will grow from
its current 31,600 — in part because of the
freeway.
Rothstein hopes a high-rise apartment and
some smaller apartment buildings will be de-
veloped in the city now that the freeway is
open.
Enhancing the area is the revitalized Vic-
toria Park, scheduled to be taken away in the
original freeway plans. Built on the freeway
decks behind the Jimmy Prentis Morris
Building and Temple Emanu-El, the new park
when completed will feature both play areas
for children and a walking trail for older
adults.
Irma Starr, director of the Jimmy Prentis
Morris Building, said the park can become a
mini-camp for the JCC summer day camp pro-
gram.
More important than a park, 1-696, which
some feared would divide the Jewish com-
munity, may be reuniting it.
Congregation Beth Shalom's Rabbi David
Nelson said he was so excited about the

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freeway opening he held a special service of
thanks after it opened Dec. 14. Now his
members will have greater accessibility to the
synagogue and other area Jewish services. He
also hopes the freeway will bring greater
stability to Oak Park and Southfield.
As the freeway brings greater accessibility,
fears that 1-696 will hurt the Jewish community
have disappeared.
Jewish Welfare Federation President Mark
Schlussel said 1-696 once made a negative im-
pact in the community, but those days are
over.
"The freeway can only enhance the area,"
Schlussel said. "I look at it as an asset."
Former Federation president Dr. Conrad
Giles said, "I don't believe the freeway has
divided the neighborhood."
Instead, it will increase the accessibility
from Oak Park and Southfield to other Jewish
neighborhoods in Bloomfield. Hills and West
Bloomfield, Dr. Giles said.
"It's not a Berlin Wall," Dr. Giles said. "We
have access."
Or as attorney Steinhardt, who lives in Hun-
tington Woods, puts it:
"It allows me to get to Maple/Drake without
a helicopter."



Homes were destroyed.
Businesses were forced to
relocate. Attorney Fred
Steinhardt summed it up:
"The emotional part of this
project is incalculable."

U.S. Transportation
Secretary grants final
approval for missing link
of 696. This culminated
negoiations with local
communities and federal
agencies.

Rabbi Eli Kaplan is named
liaison between the
Orthodox community and
the highway department
for the course of highway
construction. Work is
halted on Shabbat and
holidays.

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1981

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

33

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