Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe (FREE) has welcomed the decision by the NSW Department of Planning & Environment to approval a rezoning proposal in Sydney’s Bondi neighborhood at the site of the former Maccabi tennis club.
The spokesman for FREE, Rabbi Yehoram Ulman, said: “ At last, after 5 and a half years of trying to get a positive decision concerning this 0.4 hectare piece of land, we have a decision that allows it to have identical zoning and planning controls as all of the land the land around it. It seems to us a very just decision and we thank the Department for its professionalism in dealing with this matter”.
Rabbi Ulman said that while he was disappointed with the Council’s position on this and the delay it caused, he would like to reassure Council that FREE’s key objective in dealing with this site is not inconsistent with broader community objectives. FREE is happy to hold discussions with Council to explore potential common ground.
The proposal had attracted some controversy because some people wanted the six tennis courts at 105 Wellington Street to be retained in use even though the previous owner and operator, Maccabi, had ceased operating the site citing viability concerns. The site has always been privately owned.
FREE, which owns the site, is seeking to build a much needed community centre in Bondi to service the needs of its thousands members and is intending to use the proceeds of the redevelopment of this site to achieve this.
Friends Refugees of Eastern Europe (F.R.E.E.) is a non-for profit organization catering to the needs of refugees, predominantly from Eastern Europe, F.R.E.E. has been accommodating and aiding the Sydney community of Eastern European Jewry for over 25 years. Established in Sydney in 1986 By Rabbi Yehoram Ulman, FREE has helped tens of thousands of people – often those who arrived in Australia (and other countries) with little more than the clothes on their backs.
Today F.R.E.E membership or affiliation accounts thousands of people living primarily in Sydney East & Eastern Suburbs areas.
Since its inception, FREE has continued to aid and help people, growing into the huge force of benevolence it has grown into today. Through housing, rent, medical and employment assistance, education and counselling of all types, FREE is the first organization of its kind in Australia. FREE is Australia’s only Jewish organization serving Eastern European, as well as any other, immigrants with their spiritual and material needs.