Oct 29 2011

Opinion: Letter to Editors on “Everybody’s” Blair Park

Field of Dreams or Everybody’s Nightmare?

Oh Truthiness thy name is PRFO. Rolling out their new PR slogan “Blair Park is everybody’s park” along with a “rally” to celebrate the “final” plans for what will be a sports facility, NOT a park.  It is with much amusement that I read that the “rally” is not actually being held in “everybody’s” Blair Park, but in Piedmont Community Park. Is it just me, or is it odd how those who want to save the park hold rallies IN it, and those who wish to destroy it, celebrate elsewhere?

Could it be because it’s too dangerous to cross Moraga Avenue to get to “everybody’s” Blair Park? Or that they might notice the signs against the project all throughout the canyon? Or see the story poles representing the 33 foot high wall that will run along Moraga Ave, which by the way, were conveniently painted green, effectively making them invisible, ergo unable to indicate the true scope of the project? Perhaps they might notice that the park is quite narrow and that a huge area of land below some  21 houses above the park will need to be hugely excavated? Or that the canyon is actually on a grade so that to make it flat, it will need “everybody’s great wall of Piedmont” built? Or that the architect’s renderings are really a fantasy that bears little resemblance to the reality?
Nothing surprises me about PRFO’s zeal to get their project through. Those of us who oppose this project are Piedmont and Oakland residents who have spent a great deal of time to research and point out why the project is ill-conceived. We know and have provided legitimate reasons for our objections and stated them time and again over the last four years. However, we are up against a group with deep financial resources, able to hire PR, attorneys and architects; a privately owned town “newspaper” that is clearly pro project; a city council that has rejected the advice of their own planning commission’s unanimous vote against the project and is acting less than equitably and responsibly towards ALL of its residents, and, with no consideration at all to our Oakland neighbors. PRFO chooses to use media spin rather then substantive response to legitimate concerns, finding it easier to paint opponents as “NIMBYs” than to hold intelligent discourse.
It has become the norm in our country that to say something over and over makes it the “truth”. Repeat it enough and no one questions or looks at underlying motivations or consequences. Having the resources to spin the story is part of the game. More resources equals the louder more insistent voice. Just like this project is not a “gift”… (in addition to copious hours of staff time, the city has already spent a significant amount of money from the general fund to get the “gift” ), it is hardly “everybody’s” Blair Park. More to the point would be “giant sports field for the few with not enough parking, a “glade” thrown in to pacify the naysayers, built on a dangerous canyon road…” Oops! that’s way too long for a pithy spin driven “slogan”.
Please note that “everybody’s” Blair Park in reality will only be accessed by those with membership in an organized sports club, as well as a key to the locked facility. (Well, you might be able to get into the so called glade but no one really knows…)
I also suggest a careful examination of the mini-roundabout that is slated to be placed at Maxwelton and Moraga as a traffic “calming” device. This fundamental part of the latest PRFO traffic plan was not analyzed or mentioned in the certified EIR. My understanding of the situation is that the city is allowing PRFO to insert the mini roundabout without the usual CEQA requirements. Not only will Moraga Avenue be narrowed, but the addition of this roundabout is not to FHA technical guidelines. Site lines are limited and sidewalks are non-existent, which impedes the ability of bicyclists to ride safely as well as being less than ideal for emergency vehicles. Having lived here through 2 major disasters, I’m more than aware that Moraga  Ave. is THE main route of escape. Keeping it flowing is significant to community safety.
I appeal to Piedmont residents to take a closer look at what’s going on in the management of your city and particularly with this project. Four years in and still NO cost estimate of any kind has been provided. This is not the way to run a fiscally sound organization or city. Piedmont might be one of the most affluent cities in the U.S., but it is not exempt from the ills that plague the country. Don’t let the so called “field of dreams” become “everybody’s nightmare”.
P. Traverso
Piedmont Resident
(This statement 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.)

One Response to “Opinion: Letter to Editors on “Everybody’s” Blair Park”

  1. Bravo on a thoughtful and accurate commentary, replete with obesrvations of the true risks and dangers which City Council and staff have tried to cover up. Why must the citizens perform the analysis and due diligence that reasonable civic ethics and governmental lawsare supposed to provide? It’s time to object collectively.

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