Feb 10 2018

Opinions: Linda Beach Playground Choices – Tennis, Bocce Ball, Nature, Skateboard Park ?

How many Tennis Courts do we need?!

Who doesn’t love free pizza and talking about parks of your childhood? That’s just what I did January 18th, 2018 in the Piedmont Community Hall. This was the second meeting of the Groundworks Architecture and Landscape Firm with the Piedmont Community, hosted by the Piedmont Recreation Department, to discuss the redesign of the Linda Beach Playfield.

    At the previous meeting, the Groundworks team gathered ideas from about forty attendees about what the community wanted and valued. They put this information  into a list of guidelines. They then used guidelines to come up with designs.

    We were presented with three options: sports, nature, and hybrid.

    The sports option focused on expanding the tennis courts to fit two regulation size courts with colorful mural like retaining walls as well as a skatepark for teens under the bridge.

    The Nature design gave a serene and peaceful vibe, bringing a sculpture garden/public art space under the bridge, a terraced amphitheater/event space at the north end of the field.

    The Hybrid design was a perfect combination of both. Hybrid updates the tennis court to regulation size, while adding an event space with outdoor classrooms and a green space at the north end. The Tot Lot was moved in this design to the south end of the park featuring a slide into the park from Howard Street.

    After the presentation of the three designs, the audience was split into five table groups to discuss the options. Most of the people at the meeting were advocates for having as many tennis courts and sports areas as possible. On the other hand, many others were excited about having a green area to relax and hang out as a community. The skatepark was a big topic, but we students at the table were insistent on not including the area. Ryan Stokes, a Piedmont resident, was an advocate for the skatepark.

I spoke to Lorri Arazi, a listing agent for the newly built townhomes on Linda Avenue, about the plans. “I initially came on a fact-finding mission, I thought I’d be a listener and less of a participant. But I felt strongly, I had a strong gut reaction when I saw the skatepark next to the bridge,” Arazi told me, “I think that’d be really noisy for the people buying the condos.”

    More issues were brought up about the bathrooms, flex space for group activities, noise complaints, and wasting the space by planting more trees everywhere. Many younger people showed up to voice their opinions as well as the adults. “It was really really wonderful to see people of all ages here and involved and interested,” Arazi commented. Everyone had a positive reaction to the plans, were excited to voice their opinions and see this area remodeled.

    Arazi told me that, “I’ll definitely come to the March 21st meeting. If [the skatepark] shows up on the next iteration, then I’m going to want to voice my concern.” She also explained that by then she will hopefully have a few units sold, and can bring those families to voice their input as part of the community. The city will be having an online survey about this topic, in addition to a City Council Meeting being held on March 21st to talk about the final design. I look forward to seeing the final design, and the community support around the area.

by Maeve Andrews, Piedmont High School Senior


Courts or no Courts?

    As the Piedmont Community Hall began to fill up with intrigued families, city officials, community members and Civics students, I could tell that I was in for an interesting evening. The debate over what to include in the new Linda Beach Playfield design had just begun.

    On Thursday, January 18th, at 5:45 p.m., I attended the Linda Beach Master Plan meeting to learn more about the city’s project and to share my thoughts on the subject. The project, headed by Piedmont’s Parks and Recreation Director, Sara Lillevand, is intended to landscape, renovate, and redesign the land surrounding the Beach Playfield on Linda and Howard avenue. A similar meeting had convened on November 16 of 2017 to introduce the project and present the Groundworks Office firm which was chosen to landscape the park.

At the beginning of the Master Plan meeting, the project leaders reviewed the notes from the past meeting and revealed three detailed design concepts that the Groundworks team had put together. We then broke off into groups and worked to address the pros and cons of each of the three designs. Design one was labeled as the ‘sports’ design and consisted of two regulation size tennis courts, a skate park, a community activity space, and a boardwalk entrance to the park from Howard Avenue. The second design, known as the ‘nature’ design, featured several community flex spaces, lots of planted trees and seating areas, and no tennis courts. The third design was labeled as the ‘hybrid’ plan and consisted of one full size tennis court, an adult exercise area, a bocce ball court, and some community flex space.

As a tennis player, I advocated for a version of the sports oriented plan because it included two regulation size tennis courts. Other community members spoke up about how the tennis courts take up lots of area and that the land should be allocated to multipurpose or flex spaces that can be utilized by any and all community members at different times.

One community member spoke about how the tennis courts are a much desired aspect of the Beach Playfield and eliminating them would upset many residents. He also brought up the interesting prospect of installing night lights for the courts which would increase the hours of use. There was much debate over what to include and what to not include during the meeting but the council decided to take the copious amount of community member input and work to build at least one new plan which will then be reviewed at the next meeting.

After the meeting I spoke with the project leader and Recreation Director, Sara Lillevand, to discuss her opinion on the project and the project’s next steps. She explained to me how her main goal of the meeting was to bring as many community members together as possible to receive input on what should be included in the design. She said that the meeting exceeded her expectations primarily due to the fact that there were so many young community members present. Moving forward, Lillevand will collaborate with the Groundworks team to gather the community input from the meeting, work with the city contractors, and develop a final plan to present. This project is moving quickly and I am excited to follow it in the coming months and utilize the final project. Let’s hope for tennis courts!

by Andrew Pinkham, Piedmont High School Senior

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

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