Feb 16 2015

Student Report: Park Commission Considers Linda Town House Development and Oakland Avenue Bridge plus Highland Garden Walk Project

– Park Commission Meeting Report by Lucy Faust, Piedmont High School student –

At 5:30 on the evening of Wednesday, February 4th, Commissioner Sue Herrick called the Park Commission meeting to order. The Park Commission meets of the first Wednesday of each month to help the City Council in the decision making process regarding public parks and city street landscaping.

At the February meeting, although many issues and projects were brought up, the Townhouse Development Project at 408 Linda and the Highland Garden Walk Project were the most pressing topics on the agenda.

To start, Kevin Leveque, the landscape architect on the Townhouse Development Project, discussed many of the improvements he had made to the plans since the last meeting. He discussed the water draining issues coming from Oakland Avenue that they were solving and brought in samples of tiles to add to the site that are consistent with the area to bring a unified look to the community. In addition, he talked about the lighting to the Oakland Avenue Bridge which will become LED lighting so that less maintenance from the City of Piedmont will be required. Using photometrics, he felt confident that the lighting would be sufficient. Up to that point, the Commission members were very satisfied with his improvements. Moving forward, there was a bit more discussion.

Commissioner Patty Siskind was concerned about the planned lights to be casting shadows for cars in a negative way so that it would raise a risk of traffic accidents and Commissioner Nancy Kent was concerned with the fourteen foot posts that would be lining the walkway and recommended low lighting or a mix of high and low lighting instead. Most of the Park Commission members had thoughts on the lights – so much so that a motion was set to make a subcommittee to monitor the project. By not making a decision at the meeting, according to Director of Public Works Chester Nakahara, it would slow the process of getting a building permit for the project. As a solution, City Planner Kate Black suggested approving the building plans on the condition that the lighting on Oakland Avenue intersection, the path and stair lights, and plants for the landscaping would be approved at a later date. The Park Commission voted to take her suggestion and they all voted for it. They concluded that at the next meeting, the decision agreed upon by the subcommittee would be brought to the Park Commission as a whole.

After this discussion, Nancy Kent brought up the Highland Garden Walk Project and recapped the neighborhood meeting that was held January 24th. Lucy Faust, a student at Piedmont High school spoke in support of the project because she believes in the importance of drought-resistant gardens and saving water whenever possible. After she spoke, the details to discuss the project continued. Nancy Kent, a Park Commission member who has long served Piedmont with the intent of helping to bring its parks to a higher quality, is working hard to see the project through. The project is using sustainable techniques, like sheet mulching, to bring change to the area without eroding the organic material currently in place which will keep the soil healthier for years to come.  After the Highland Garden Walk Project discussion concluded, all other items on the agenda were discussed which included five project updates and a monthly maintenance report.

At the meeting I spoke in support of the Highland Garden Walk project. I spoke about the fact that a beautiful and aesthetically pleasing town is important to me and so is functionality. The current landscaping of the Highland grass, though beautiful, doesn’t make sense because currently, it is maintained like a park, but is not in use like a park. I talked how I have never hung out there with my friends and although I drive past it many times a week, I have never seen people sitting down in the area and enjoying the grass. Drought resistant plants are the future in gardening and I see no reason why we are using city water to water grass no one is using.

Lucy Faust, Piedmont High School Student

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

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