Sep 25 2014

OPINION: Public Records and Resident Participation Missing

In his latest account of the WW Park Bond saga, Councilman Jeff Wieler made several misstatements about the process. “Dozens of people” did not participate at the meetings (I attended two), a statement that could be corroborated had minutes been taken or the meetings videotaped.   The total cost for Blair Park is estimated at $900,000, but it is a phased project by design with the Phase 1 cost of $300,00 well under available WW funds of $507,325.  Applying the same logic to Hampton Field ($1.3M total) would make it ineligible.

As liaison to the Capital Improve Projects (CIP) Review Committee, Councilman Wieler could do everyone a service and explain why Blair Park was not considered as a phased project.   A lengthy CEQA process would not be required of Phase I for Blair Park, which is simply a rehabilitation of the natural area  – no change to existing use. A negative declaration is more likely and the CEQA analysis for Blair Field would more than address any impacts for the current park proposal.  The city has in its possession an analysis by LSA that
shows that a crosswalk to Blair Park is feasible and in any event, a crosswalk is not called for in Blair Park Phase I.  A principle FOMC [Friends of Moraga Canyon] argument was to maintain Blair Park as open space with better access – the threat of a lawsuit is a red herring.

The drainage problem at Hampton Field is largely going unaddressed – no drainage improvements to the play field will be made.  The “improved drainage” is actually a 4-foot plantar wall intended to screen a cell tower proposed for the slope above the courts.

“Negativity“ gets raised in lieu of informed discussion. Rather than resort to the ghost of Richard Nixon and Proverbs, Councilman Wieler should listen to Piedmonters.

The number one capital improvement project supported by residents in the 2007 General Plan Survey was improvements to the pool, a project considered not eligible for WW by the CIP Committee (It is eligible – look at the WW project list on the EBRPD website).  Moraga Canyon residents have been asking for decades that Blair Park be improved.  Citizen committees convened to study play field needs in town have consistently determined that access to Blair Park for parking or city operations is needed to expand Coaches Field.

The Recreation and Planning Commissions recommended that alternatives to the failed Blair Field proposal be considered for Blair Park.  Most of all, sports clubs have asked for increased field access, a concern Mr. Wieler claims to share. Yet with all that, WW is being used for routine court maintenance and park beautification instead of as leverage for new open space and recreation in Piedmont.  But as the Bible says:  “They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand.”  (Isaiah 44).  Ears too, it seems.

Garrett Keating, Former Councilmember

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

One Response to “OPINION: Public Records and Resident Participation Missing”

  1. Starting months ago, Councilman Wieler made it quite clear in his Council meeting comments tha he intended the WW funds for Hampton. Mayor Fujioka reminded him of the process and that all residents should have a voice in the matter, but this apparently had no effect on Mr. Wieler. Perhaps many residents chose not to waste energy on a “done deal” as the WW funds were long ago allocated for Hampton by a majority on Council.

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