Dec 3 2011

OPINION: Landscaped Slope or Berm Wall?

A resident asks whether the berm wall along Moraga Avenue will be a landscaped slope or an eyesore –

Members of the City Council,

Attached you will find copies of the brochures of SIERRASCAPE WALLS and TENSAR Earth Technologies, Inc. detailing the system that is proposed by ELS, Architecture and Design in their Final Proposed Master Plan and Additional Detailed Information.

As you can see, unlike the architects renderings and photo shopped pictures depict, this is a system designed as a cheap reinforced soil solution for grade separation projects.   As shown in the attached brochures, most of these applications are appropriate for highway projects, overpasses and erosion control in rural settings.

SierraScape System brochure specifically depicts the MSE System used at Villa Walsh Catholic Academy in Morristown, New Jersey supporting a soccer field that is very similar to the Blair Park Component of the Moraga Canyon Sports Fields Project.  In this photo, you can see the final outcome of the project very much like the way it was described by the Planning Commission Chair Melanie Robertson, as “MSE is not a pretty sight. The best you can hope for is weeds growing on it.  I think it’s misleading on the renderings, because it’s not going to be a beautiful landscaped slope.”

Unlike the proposed field project, the most practical use of the space is actually two small practice fields, where the bulk of Piedmont Soccer Club’s players in U8, U10, U12 leagues can equally benefit from the space shared together. The existing proposal offers only one single field that would prove inadequate for splitting the terrain across multiple team practices; having limited practice space is the primary reason we are exploring new designs for field usage. Furthermore, the current proposal fails to meet regulation U12 field standards, which require sideline team areas and designated spectator spaces for parents and spectators.

As coaches and players all know, a large full-length field is never well-utilized when only two teams can practice at a time.  The two smaller-field approach will provide practice space for six entire U8 teams, or two different U10 and two U8 splitting each field in half (for a total of four teams utilizing the space efficiently) or three U12 teams practicing all at the same time.  These are the true solutions to PSC President Mark Landeer’s question ” . .  if the Alameda Point is no longer available to PSC, where will the 330 players go to practice?”

Please note that the “two small fields solution” will allow more practice space for more children while preserving the canyon at the same time. If we aim to eliminate the problems that plague this project (such as massive retaining walls, extensive earth movement, destruction of natural habitat for trees and animals and the fiscal liability it carries), a single field proposal does nothing of the sort.

US Youth Soccer officially endorses “Small-Sided Games” for U6, U8, U10, and U12 players across the board . . . across America stating Small-sided games begin to give back to the players and allow a more player-centered soccer environment.  When players are motivated and given the terrain to play on, they’ll learn more in their practice time, learn more from each other, and become better soccer players from their youth experience.

It is not too late to choose the right path and that will be your gift to this community.

You can save the environment and still let the children play on . . .

SierraScape_Brochure_Pictures_SS_CC_VILLAWALSH_2.05 picture 1 moraga

Blair_Park_SierraSystem__Brochure_Pictures_GEN_GEOT_CS_18.1_LEED picture 2 moraga canyon

Blair_Park_SierraScape_Retaining_Systems_SS_IG_11.06 picture 3 moraga canyon

Sinan Sabuncuoglu
Piedmont Resident

 (This article 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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