Aug 17 2013

Blair Park Landscape Design Contract Goes to City Council

A $15,000 contract for landscape design improvements to Blair Park is up for approval by the Piedmont City Council on Monday, August 19.  Public Works Director Chester Nakahara is recommending the contract be awarded to Restoration Design Group (RDG) of Berkeley, in partnership with HortScience, Inc., a horticulture, arboriculture and urban forestry firm. 

Improving Blair Park’s landscape is part of a 2012 settlement agreement between Friends of Moraga Canyon (FOMC) and the City in a lawsuit filed by FOMC against the City’s Environmental Impact Report for construction of a sports field in the park. The settlement called for the City to retain a professional landscape architect “who has experience in creating and/or implementing plans for natural open space parks similar to Blair Park.”

After extensive review, RDG/HortScience were rated the most qualified by City staff and by an FOMC subcommittee, which reviewed proposals from three local firms. According to Nakahara, “Restoration Design Group possesses extensive experience in natural open space restoration, and combines that with a distinct qualitative character that will be brought to their approach in designing a plan suitable for the unique conditions of Blair Park.”

During the 12-week project, RDG and HortScience will assess the health of every tree in Blair Park, recommend risk abatement, such as pruning, and tree preservation. They will conduct a survey of existing pathways and trees and recommend proposed site improvements, plant species, pathway design, erosion control measures, and provide a preliminary cost estimate of the recommended improvements.  RDG will present its plan at a public hearing of the Piedmont Parks Commission on October 2, 2013.

In its proposal letter, RDG stated, “The landscape improvement plan will focus on ‘low impact’ changes to the open space.  However, if the City is interested, the plan could lead to a bolder, more long‐term vision for the site.  Blair Park is at the headwaters of the Glen Echo Creek (sometimes referred to as Cemetery Creek) watershed.  The creek flows below the park in a storm drain.  The landscape improvement plan could set a long term vision to daylight the creek through the site.  The addition of a water feature would greatly benefit birds and create an even more tranquil, soothing setting for park users.  The proposed low impact landscape improvement plan could design the site to accommodate and even stimulate future large scale improvements.”

RDG concluded, “We understand that Blair Park has had competing proposals in the recent past, and we intend to design a project that will help heal relations and reinforce the decision to keep Blair Park in a natural condition.”

Staff report

3 Responses to “Blair Park Landscape Design Contract Goes to City Council”

  1. To daylight the creek through the park is a great idea.

  2. What is meant by “could design the site to accommodate and even stimulate future large scale improvements?” Who decides on what is an improvement and what is not an improvement? I hate to see the city return to another soccer field VS open space park situation.

  3. The City will revisit converting Blair Park to a sports field. Councilman McBain’s remarks Aug. 19 made that abundantly clear. However, there are some very serious process issues that still need addressing not the least of which is the $200,000 still owed by PRFO. This has gone on since Dec. 2012 with no update from City Hall. Some at City Hall, probably a majority of the Council, are willing to “move on” to Blair Park II without an honest explanation of why the City/PRFO agreement is not being enforced.

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