On February 1st, 2017, I attended the Park Commission meeting from 5:30 to 6:25 p.m. I was one of only three people in the audience section, and the only person there who was not a returning attendee. The main focuses of this meeting were an update on Hampton Park, the Linda-Kingston Triangle, the installation of new playground equipment for the Recreation Center Tot Lot, and the Monthly Maintenance Report.
Celebration was in order after Staff Liaison, Nancy Kent, revealed that the no-netting, sand-based sod was successfully installed at Hampton Park earlier in the day. This natural sod will serve as a great improvement to the muck that generations of young Little League prodigies were forced to endure. Also, the new irrigation sprinklers were fully functioning, proving that the drainage was working properly. The sod needs a month to take root, so the public is implored to stay off the turf! The Commission felt hopeful that the field will be ready for public use by March, just in time for baseball.
I am thrilled to hear of this progress, because I personally grew up playing on the old Hampton grass, and can attest firsthand to its dire need for improvement. Youth sports are a critical area of character development for many children, and I am glad that the city realizes the value in keeping these fields safe and up to date.
The Commission then went on to discuss how the city is still waiting for PG&E to “give [them] power” to the Linda-Kingston Triangle. The recently completed beatification project needs the electricity to power its light fixtures. Nancy Kent shared that the Mayor of Piedmont had submitted the Triangle to an awards program, that recognizes innovation in public streets. The Mayor believes that the Triangle should be recognized for making traffic safer, creating a better pedestrian route, providing a subtle gateway into the city, and functioning as its own mini-park. The Mayor will hear back later this month if the Triangle is to be recognized.
A complaint was filed by a citizen that the Linda-Kingston Triangle has reduced parking in the adjacent streets. However, this complaint has no valid basis because the Park Commission created the Triangle in a very careful manner that took zero parking spaces from the community.
Next the Commission discussed the installation of the new playground equipment for the Recreation Center Tot Lot. The old playground equipment was deemed hazardous by certified inspectors back in July, 2016, forcing the Recreation Department to start from scratch. The purchase of the new equipment was approved in November, and by mid-January the playground was completely installed. Thanks to the efficiency of those working this project, the turnaround time was very quick, providing a safer and improved structure for the Recreation Center.
Lastly, the Monthly Maintenance Report discussed the damaging effects of the recent rain storms that have ravaged Piedmont. The storms have been keeping all the city workers on full alert because as one member of the audience put it, “the trees are toppling like dominos”. The most affected residential areas have been along St. James Drive and La Salle Avenue, while Dracena Park, Piedmont Park, and Beach Field have taken the hardest blows for the Parks Department. Beach Field has suffered from a tree that fell onto the field itself (taking out a lamppost on its way down) and another that fell onto the roof of the Beach Field bathroom building, thankfully causing only minor damage.
Due to this increase of falling trees, all twenty park-pedestrian-pathways have recently been cleared and cleaned. Also reported was the decaying of many London Plain Forest trees, which have been declining due to old age and drought. Although the average lifespan of street-trees is now unfortunately less than twenty years, many of these London Plains have been in the Piedmont community for almost eighty years.
The meeting was described by Park Commissioner, Betsy Goodman, as “good, fast, everyone was happy”. While Goodman acknowledged that some city government meetings could “drag on,” she was proud and pleased with how “very efficient” the meeting went overall.
The Park Commission meets the first Wednesday of every month at the Piedmont City Hall. The purpose of this group is to help manage and make improvements to the public parks of the community.
Sam Rosenbaum, Piedmont High School Senior