Jun 24 2012

OPINION: Time for Community Plan for Blair Park

New Vision for Piedmont’s Blair Park-

Recently, there have been many suggestions for Blair Park in the local media. Some credible and some ridiculous. If one thing is for sure, it is time for a “New Vision” to emerge for Piedmont’s Blair Park. This should be a plan that is modest in scope, has a cost that is appropriate in the context of Piedmont City budget priorities, and involves extensive public participation through a transparent process.

Any new plan should consider the current status of Blair Park.  The considerations for a development plan can be summarized as follows:

Arterial Robustness and Safety

Moraga Avenue is a critical traffic artery, but has vulnerabilities, particularly under stressed circumstances. Any development should at least maintain the arterial aspect of the avenue, and more desirably, enhance it.

Moraga Avenue in its present condition has safety issues related to uphill bicycle traffic and the use of the few parking spaces that exist. An improvement in both these safety areas is desirable, and the need for such improvements, by themselves, provides motivation for limited development solutions.

Moraga Avenue is also dangerous for any pedestrian attempting a crossing. Development plans should not have any effect that specifically encourages pedestrians to cross the street.


Blair Park is inherently beautiful, but has been neglected and is being used as a dumping site. Intelligent and forward-looking attention to maintenance basics is already needed. Blair Park is also considered a gateway to Piedmont. Attention to aesthetics and related issues such as tree health go hand-in-hand with consideration of development options. Any development plans should have a natural open space character and contribute to a parkway style aesthetic.

Public Accessibility and Use

As it is now, Blair Park is nominally accessible and is used to a very limited extent. It would generally be in the interest of the community to improve safe accessibility. With appropriate and carefully planned development, Blair Park can easily absorb a modest increase in use.

Environmental and Topographical

Blair Park enjoys and provides a rich environment for native vegetation – plant community and the appropriate wildlife habitat that should be preserved and restored to a rich level of ecological diversity. The ecologically rich, elongated, and meandering site is suitable for incorporating many diverse elements as the community members may decide under the guidelines of “Bay Friendly Landscaping Principles” that embody community values for health and safety, wildlife, and the environment.

Development by the Community

The developmental direction of Blair Park needs to be community-based. Any development needs to be attentive to real world budgetary constraints, and can be staged over a period of time. There is an opportunity for private-public partnerships, but development is fundamentally a Piedmont City project, and should be run in a transparent manner, with abundant opportunity for the community to contribute to the planning.

As resources become scarce in the urban environment, the inhabitants of the land need to learn and practice new ways of stewarding the land. Blair Park gives us in Piedmont an opportunity to venture on a path where, unified, we can create a project that exemplifies this new way of thinking about our environment, and fosters a real sense of community.

Piedmont has an opportunity to develop Blair Park in a way that accords with an emerging vision of public space, with community feedback. We therefore invite community engagement regarding the tenets of a mission underlying a development plan for Blair Park, defining the structural foundational elements for such a plan, and broadly seek community ideas and participation on development of features and amenities within the Park.

Let us hear from the Community at large, the Garden Clubs, Piedmont Connect, and the wider School Community, and regional stakeholders. Please give your opinion, your ideas and your suggestions. You can write to Piedmont Civic Association at editors@piedmontcivic.org or e-mail your comments to blairpark2012@gmail.com

Sinan Sabuncuoglu

Piedmont Resident

Editors Note:  The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.

2 Responses to “OPINION: Time for Community Plan for Blair Park”

  1. Why not subdivide and sell off the Blair Park land as home-sites? The proceeds can be applied to any Piedmont debt and/or tax reductions.

  2. The major issue I saw with the well-intentioned proposal to build soccer fields at Blair is the need for a significant cut into the hillside and the resulting very large retaining walls. The potential for both major construction cost overruns and liability for slides are tangible problems.

    So how about an outdoor hockey rink that can also be used for Box lacrosse? The regulation size for a rink is 85 feet X 200 ft. That’s feet not yards. And the rink can be entirely enclosed with fencing to keep wayward pucks and balls in the rink. A very similar rink can be seen in Lafayette at their community center on St. Mary’s Road. There is enough room with only minor grading and no need for cutting into the slope to build a rink and provide a few off street parking spaces. A grandstand could be also built onto the hill for spectators (well the three or four parents who’d stick around to watch practices) , making good use of that real estate while not requiring excavation to build. The rest of the site could be fenced as a dog run or split between a fenced dog run and a landscaped area.

    Okay, this is just a concept and not a developed plan, but it could be viable for this site from the perspective of how much relatively flat area is available there now.

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