May 13 2016

Park Commission: Lorita Avenue Trees, Linda Tennis Courts, Updates

On May 4, 2016 at 5:30 pm, the Park Commission meeting commenced as Chair Jamie Totsubo called the participants to order and lead the Pledge of Allegiance. On the first Wednesday of every month, the Park Commission meets to address issues and come up with arrangements regarding the beautification of Piedmont; everything from the parks to the street landscaping. After Commissioners Brian Mahany, John Lenahan, Jim Horner, Jonathan Levine, Patty Siskind, and Betsy Goodman introduced themselves, the discussions began.

The meeting started off with the Public Forum, where several Piedmont High School students brought their concerns to the attention of the Commission. Sam Cheng and Alex Chueh requested that lights be put in around the softball field. Kalen Davison stated that the Linda tennis courts are in terrible condition, especially the nets, and suggested that the courts be checked every three months so as to keep them in a safe, playable condition.

After the Public Forum, the meeting moved on to address the items on the agenda, the first of which was a hearing to consider a request from residents Maggie and Lannie Spencer for the implementation of additional street trees on Lorita Avenue and Monticello Avenue. They proposed to remove the agapanthus on the street, and instead put in five new street trees.

Maggie Spencer brought up the point that there is a city owned space on the street that used to have street trees; however, these street trees were removed many years back and never replaced. Three other residents spoke in favor of street trees; one resident on Monticello Avenue later stated that they attended the meeting to make sure that their “opinions were being heard”, as they were “strongly in favor of beautifying the street.”

However, Anne Hall, a resident on Ramona Avenue, wanted to express her feelings against tall street trees, as they would block sunlight from her backyard and the roots going under her fence would be problematic.

I agree with this sentiment, as it is not often taken into consideration the tremendous barrier that tall trees can impose.

Therefore, the residents as well as the Commissioners agreed that the agapanthus should be substituted with a plant that grows the height of the fences, and does not spill over so as to disturb the neighbors. Commissioner Jim Horner stated that ginkgo trees stay small in a confined setting, and suggested to use ginkgos but keep the spacing narrow (about 20 feet apart). All of the Commissioners agreed on replacing the agapanthus with ginkgos, and the motion passed.

The Commission then moved on to the next items on the agenda, which included an update on the Linda/Kingston Triangle. They will soon be setting a date to put the drawings to bid, hopefully within the next month, so that the bulk of the project will be completed before school starts again in the Fall.

The next item involved the planting of a maple tree in Piedmont Park; the planting ceremony date is set for May 24, 2016 with the ceremonial planting beginning at 10 a.m.

The Park Commission also was given an update on the Hampton Master Plan; the project was awarded to Suarez and Munoz, a local group from Hayward. The project is to begin on June 13, the Monday after school lets out for summer, and the goal is to complete the project by August 16, the start of the 2016-­17 school year.

After the final item on the agenda (the monthly maintenance report), the Commission came to the decision that July 6 would be the date for their summer recess, and the meeting was adjourned.

Kaelli Thiel, Piedmont High School Senior

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

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