Saturday, May 24, 2008

More Trouble at Yeshivah

Part of the plan of the proposed centre

While we all thought that things were a little quiet at the moment a storm is brewing in the vicinity of A'Beckett Street. According to flyers which have been sent around the neighbourhood of the Yeshivah there is a protest movement which is gaining momentum against the proposed Chabad Youth centre which is to be built on the site on the old houses in A'Beckett Street. In fact the "antis" have established a website - - which has copies of relevant documents and an announcement of a protest meeting this Sunday at 3:00pm.

My first reaction was to wonder what all the fuss was about. Surely this is just an extension of the school and it's associated activities. But when speaking to people who live in the area and reading the website, the plans for the centre and some of the protest letters it appears that the "antis" have a good case.

The proposal is for a four level building - a basement and a 3 storeys which fronts on A'Beckett Street. The plan before council states, among other things, that it will be used for after school activities and for functions twice a week until midnight. They have also requested the waiving of on-site parking requirements.

The residents are quite upset about this and it appears that objections are coming from many people in the vicinity of Hotham, Empress and A'Beckett Streets. The last letter points out that the 102 square metre open terrace BBQ area will give a direct view into backyards of Empress Road residents as well as allowing music and noise to be heard at quite a distance from the building.

I understand that the A'Beckett Street residents are particularly concerned that the entrance will be on that street and not through the existing Yeshivah entrances. This will cause traffic problems and especially noise until very late in the evening in this small dead-end street. I am told that the residents are not concerned about the regular school noise and traffic as they obviously knew about that when they purchased their properties. What concerns them is that traffic and noise will be a problem until the early hours.

This issue looks like becoming a major one which is affecting both Jewish and non-Jewish residents in the area. Hopefully the Yeshivah Executive will make an honest attempt to answer the objections in a sensitive way.