Apr 17 2015

Linda Kingston, Crocker Park, Spring Path, Drought, Tree Pruning and Removal Considered by Park Commission

April 8, 2015 Park Commission Meeting
by Piedmont High School Student, Thomas Horn

In their monthly meeting, held Wednesday, April 8, the City of Piedmont’s Park Commission discussed a range of temporary and ongoing projects for improving outdoor spaces in Piedmont, including renovations in Crocker Park and construction of a landscaped median triangle at Linda and Kingston Avenues, as well as other items.

The commission invited Mark Feldkamp, Parks and Project Manager for the city, to discuss the removal of the garage at the northwest corner of Crocker Park. According to Feldkamp, the project is going smoothly, with a nearby homeowner agreeing to the use of her land for part of the demolition process, which greatly eases the city’s task. Additionally, the city has been able to preserve old redwood timber from the garage for reuse. However, Feldkamp noted that the corner of the park with the garage will likely require about $200,000 to landscape attractively.

On the construction of the Linda/Kingston Triangle, the commission invited Chester Nakahara, Director of Public Works, to discuss recent progress. Nakahara reported that the city had received numerous requests from nearby residents to restripe the intersection and install new stop signs in different locations before the beginning of construction. One of the frequently requested locations for a new stop sign was on the north corner of Linda and Rose Avenues, which is in Oakland.

Nakahara felt optimistic that a stop sign could be placed here after consultation with the Oakland traffic engineer. The Oakland traffic engineer would be able to use the traffic study conducted by the City of Piedmont to justify this proposal if necessary. The sign and striping budget of the City of Piedmont is very limited, but the commission agreed that this aspect of the project could be completed as soon as funds became available.

The commission returned to Feldkamp for information on the Spring Path project [located between Maxwelton Avenue and Moraga Avenue near the Piedmont Corporation Yard.] Local residents are complaining about difficulties for their children in walking to school, according to Feldkamp; and wish that the reconstruction of the path would proceed more quickly. However, Feldkamp believed that a work pace slightly slower than usual was acceptable, given that the work was conducted by child volunteers.

Feldkamp also addressed the landscaping plan for the new residential buildings under construction at 408 Linda Avenue [location of former PG&E Substation below the Oakland Avenue Bridge] stating that it was now “95 percent good” after a few changes. Commissioner Susan Herrick noted that the previous plan to place roses under oak trees was regrettable; Feldkamp laughed and said that this had been corrected.

Dave Frankel, supervisor of maintenance for the city, next updated the commission about the completion of street tree pruning for 2014-15, which involved the trimming of 494 trees. Commissioner Anian Tunney asked Frankel about the apparent removal of several trees along the west side of Highland Avenue. Frankel responded that eight elm trees were removed to assist in gutter repairs, and that all were suffering from existing diseases. They would be replaced by new trees, which the residents of the nearby homes agreed to water.

The commission expressed concern that the residents might not be able to water the trees appropriately, but Frankel insisted that this measure was necessary because of the labor-intensive nature of tree watering.

I agree with Frankel that it is beneficial for nearby homeowners to take responsibility for the street trees in front of their homes, because their care and concern for their home environment will likely result in the trees being better cared for than if they were one of the many concerns of city parks workers. Additionally, watering the trees could help local residents feel more civically engaged and more appreciative of the city’s efforts to maintain the beauty of the area’s street-scape.

Finally, Frankel updated the commission on the city’s water conservation efforts. As part of the mandate by Governor Jerry Brown to save water, Piedmont is required to reduce its water consumption by 25 percent. However, the city is entitled to use 2013 as a baseline for water-conservation measurements, and measuring from this year, the city has already cut water usage by 20 percent. Further cuts in water usage will be achieved by not planting annual flowers this year, and possibly by using non-potable water for irrigation.

Interviewed after the meeting, Frankel stated that he has been delivering monthly updates to the Park Commission for “twenty years” as part of his job, but that the drought is the “next hot topic” for him, which he will deal with by investigating irrigation systems and seeing where repair and conversion to non-potable water are possible. The April 14 meeting of the EBMUD board may also change the situation with respect to water conservation rules, so Frankel is monitoring the regulatory situation closely.

                              Thomas Horn

Editors’ Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Leave a Comment