Dec 17 2016

Costly City Clean Up of Student Litter after PHS Lunch Breaks, Fire Department Watered Coaches Field

    The Park Commission did not have an official meeting on December 7th.  Instead, there was a social gathering as a Holiday break that segued into the tree lighting ceremony at 7:30 p.m.  While there were no official issues to be addressed or discussed, it was the perfect time for a high school senior interested in the inner-workings of government to bump elbows and inquire upon many Piedmont government officials.

I got the opportunity to simultaneously interview the Mayor, Jeff Wieler and the Director of Public Works, Chester Nakahara as he stood behind the bar – eager to serve his community both beverages and hours of hard work.  I learned a lot more about general park information through direct conversation than I would have attempting to participate in a busy Park Commission’s docket.

  As a high school student, I admittedly had both a specific and limited view of what the Park Commission and the Public Works Department do.  I wanted a different perspective of my main connection to the Piedmont Parks -an inside scoop on the daily announcements pleading my peers to stop littering during their off-campus lunch privileges.  I was shocked to discover that it takes a full man day of work to clean all the litter after every Piedmont High School off-campus lunch break.  Despite trash and recycling bins within arms reach, the worst offending areas are Piedmont Main Park and outside the Veterans Building and City Hall.

The tone of both Wieler’s and Nakahara’s voices were mixtures between exasperation and jokes about the laziness of the litterers.  There was no obvious solution towards solving this problem that they have not already tried.  There are sufficient waste disposal containers, plus the quality of education at the school should justify a level of awareness to negate the problem.

I could not come up with answers or suggestions that have not already been attempted, I could only do my best to reassert that it seems to be an excessive and ongoing issue that the City needs to have a different stance on.  20-30% of the Publics Works budget of $4 million is dedicated strictly towards maintenance and cleaning.  That can make it harder to achieve some of Mayor Jeff Wieler’s park and public works goals: to finish the Linda Triangle, continue beautification, and to fully illuminate the Oakland Avenue Bridge for safety purposes.

    Additionally, I learned that the California drought has minimally affected parks in Piedmont because the Piedmont Fire Department efficiently directs their mandated engine tests while spraying water onto Coaches Field.  The only evident aspect of our communities water shortage is the large brown spot on upper Dracena Park, a park that recently had a more controversial decision of whether a certain stretch of the dog park allowed dogs to be off leash.  The dogs must remain on leash, as the Park Commission recently decided, but additional and clearer signage is needed around that park.

  Jeff Wieler, Chester Nakahara, and every other person I met (like Park Commission staff liaison Nancy Kent!) work tirelessly in their various positions to help improve Piedmont.  They were all incredibly knowledgeable – Wieler was occasionally frustrated at himself for not having a certain exact budget or figure on the tip of his tongue – and even just a more light-hearted social Holiday celebration can bring up important local issues that everyone is clearly passionate about attempting to solve.

Josef Crombie Presberg, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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