Dec 4 2010

Opinion: Unauthorized Playfield Use = Locked Gates for Blair Park

A letter from a Piedmont resident on Blair Park on public access to future Blair Park facilities:

Last week’s Piedmonter article on the 11/17 Piedmont Recreation Commission (Rec. Comm.) meeting reported what many residents around Linda Beach, Witter Field and Dracena Park have experienced for a long time. Unscheduled use by out of town groups is a major, known and ongoing problem in Piedmont. The pick-up soccer games by adult males are so aggressive that families are afraid to come near the facilities when these games are in progress.

Piedmont is currently embroiled in the contentious plan of whether to convert Blair Park to a sports complex. Unscheduled use by other than Piedmont residents has been extensively reported, but the Blair Park Environmental Impact Report (EIR) states there will be no problem from unscheduled use. The EIR for this proposal is paid for by proponents who wish to convert Blair Park for essentially exclusive sports club use. Unscheduled use is a major concern as this proposed sports complex close to Highway 13 will be easily accessible from the entire East Bay Area.

Several months ago a Piedmont resident published a letter concerning adult pickup soccer players urinating in front of residents at Witter Field. The Nov. 17 Rec. Comm. included public testimony from a Piedmont mother walking by the Linda shack with two children. She observed a male adult performing publicly illegal acts on himself. Police escorted the gentleman away with no charges being filed. The Blair Park EIR “does not expect that vagrants or loiterers would be a concern for the project due to its location away from the downtown area and because this has not been an issue for any of the other sports fields located within the City (DEIR p336-7).”  The EIR’s conclusion is contrary to extensive factual information from Piedmont residents.

The EIR makes no reference to the known problem of unscheduled out of town player’s pick-up games and groups coming in for parties. The EIR only assumes worst case scenarios from the assumedly well-behaved sports club games and Piedmont residents. This is entirely unrealistic given what was reported at the Nov. 17 Rec. Comm. and the ongoing unscheduled problems at existing facilities.

The EIR states “Blair Park would be fenced and the gates would be locked with posted rules and restrictions during non-use hours, similar to other existing City field facilities (EIR Response 2.26 p24).” Witter and Linda Beach are not locked. Proponents have touted that the Moraga Complex will be for all Piedmonters, yet when their organized games have ended “the gates would be locked.” The six to ten foot fences on top of the twenty-five foot high berm immediately next to Moraga Avenue will be sufficient to keep those of us unaffiliated with the sports clubs out.  Essentially the proponents expect use of the proposed facility be for their exclusive use, and Piedmont residents who are not affiliated will be denied access.

The Moraga EIR is incomplete. The EIR is deficient in an examination of unscheduled use and ignores overwhelming evidence contrary to its findings. Piedmont City Council cannot certify this badly flawed advocacy document.

Rick Schiller

Piedmont, CA

(This letter expresses the personal opinions of the author. All statements made are the opinion of the writer and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.)

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