Developing values from the ground up

Photo courtesy Diarmuid McGuireThe founders of Aleph Springs broke ground in April for a bioswale that will help purify storm water and runoff from nearby paved areas as it flows through a planned ?village green.? Celebrating the occasion were, left to right, builder Larry Medinger, future resident Tim Orrok, Amitai Siegel, Havurah President Akiva DeJack and son Eli, Aleph Springs steering committee member Judy Newton, Ari Bandoroff and mom, Aleph Springs Chair Laura Robin, steering committee member Al Silbowitz and Scott Bandoroff.

Creating an environmentally responsible and caring community. That's what investors hope will evolve from Aleph Springs, a new neighborhood development on three sides of the Havurah Shir Hadash Synagogue on North Mountain Avenue.

Laura Robin, president of the 20-member investment group, said the 15-unit subdivision could break ground within a month.

Aleph Springs will include a six-unit condominium with underground parking that investors say "community elders" would find attractive because they are single-story structures and handicap accessible. The development also includes eight new homes, most sharing a common wall. The "backyards" of the houses will all face south and open to a common green space that includes a playground, garden area and a bioswale.

Robin said prices range from $200,000 to $400,000, plus the cost of the lot.

Investors Fran and Tim Orrok already have dibs on the house lot closest to the bioswale.

"I want to reign over the wetlands," Fran said jokingly.

Larry Medinger, who helped with the neighborhood design and will construct the buildings, plans on expanding the current marshy area into a bioswale. He said the bioswale will capture polluted runoff from Siskiyou Boulevard and the Railroad District, purify the water and then drain it into a wetland area before it empties into Clear Creek.

Fran, 70, and her husband, 77, currently live on Ivy Lane and said it was time to move off the hill and downsize.

"We were particularly attracted to the southern exposure of the houses," she said. "Not just for the energy-efficiency it provides, but it also opens to the green space where we can interact with our neighbors and the Havurah community. The layout will encourage a healthy, caring concern for each other."

Fran said what really makes the neighborhood unique is that a group with a vision, and not an individual developer, came up with the idea of developing an environmentally friendly and caring community.

"Aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet," she said. "It means one with a sense of unity, where all comes together and from which all creation flows."

Robin said the vision of the investors was to create a caring, supportive neighborhood for people of all ages, able-bodied or not, with a wide range of financial situations.

"The project is not exclusive to the Jewish community," she said. "Our hope is that people who move into the community share the 'neighbor helping neighbor' philosophy."

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