Nov 13 2017

All interested community members are invited to meet with Groundworks Office, landscape architects, at:

Beach Elementary School Auditorium

100 Lake Avenue 

Thursday, November 16

6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Nov 13 2017

Linda Beach Playfield Master Plan and problems with the wireless communication installation – 

The Piedmont Park Commission met on November 1, 2017 and the major issues were “Approval of Park Commission Minutes for September 6, 2017 and October 4, 2017,” “Consideration of a Recommendation to City Council regarding Proposed Wireless Communication Facilities Permit Installation in Piedmont Park across from 314 Wildwood Avenue,” “Update on the Linda Beach Playfield Master Plan,” “Update and Discussion on a Heritage Tree Program for Trees in Piedmont Parks and Open Spaces by Park Commissioner Jim Horner,” “Monthly Maintenance Report: Park, Open Space and Street Tree Update for the Month of October.”

I stayed for three hours, but I was only there for the first two subjects and a couple minutes of the third subjects.

Eileen Ruby and a few other members of the Commission were upset and confused with Planning Director Kevin Jackson’s opening statement, because they had just been given information at 10 a.m. that morning and asked to decide on it that night. The first topic discussed was anger and confusion expressed by the Commission at the late notice and demands of Kevin Jackson’s new agreement on a wireless communication facility located on City property.

The second topic was heavily discussed for the majority of  time I was there. Basically, there are wireless communications towers trying to be put around Piedmont, but they haven’t been meeting City regulations.

Laura Mazel, a long time Piedmont resident who lives on Wildwood Avenue spoke up to argue against the tower being put up outside the entrance to the dog park near Witter Field. She argued that there was research showing that the radiation coming from the towers would harm wildlife, especially the ancient redwood trees. She also expressed concern about the narrowness of the street and if trucks would be on the street doing work on the tower that would create a problem for drivers.

A former physicist from Berkeley also expressed a lot of concern with the damage the radiation can do. He cited multiple studies and said that flies and bees also can be destroyed by the radiation, soil is affected negatively as well, and birds would have to move nests.

I agree with Laura Mazel and the physicist in that these wireless communication towers are not necessary and they do more harm than good.

The Commission after long discussions and a great amount of staff input hesitantly and with concern made a recommendation to the City Council to approve the communication site while adding new conditions to any approval.

Moving onto the third topic, the City is developing a new Master Plan for the Beach Playfield that involves fixing up the bathrooms and drinking fountains, as well as making the tennis courts full sized. An informational meeting about Beach Playfield will include both parents and kids.

My classmate Jessica Xiong spoke and said it was a good idea to have both adults and children in the meeting because kids are going to be the ones primarily using the field.

I spoke as well and reflected on my younger years as one of the kids playing t-ball and soccer on Beach Field. I remembered how gross the bathrooms by the Field are and let them know that the kids would definitely appreciate a renovation there. I think the plan is a good idea, because it will let kids play and exercise, which is extremely important.

I interviewed Patty Dunlop, a member of the Park Commission. The difficulties she encountered were trying to figure out if the plans for the cell towers were “in harmony with the City Code.” She has learned about the government elements of the cell towers and protocols (making complicated motions), and the delegation of responsibility between the Park Commission and the City Council. The next step concerning her is paying more attention to applications coming forward for additional cell towers/cell antennas, because she thinks they will be coming.

The Park Commission of Piedmont California meets monthly on the first Wednesday at 5:30. They make recommendations to the City Council about the beautification of public parks and the street tree improvement program.

By Emmett Reed, Piedmont High School Senior


    On Wednesday November 1, 2017, I attended the Park Commission meeting at Piedmont City Hall. The Park Commission meets monthly, on the first Wednesday of every month at 5:30 p.m. The Park Commission meets to discuss issues relating to the public parks of the city and manage the street-tree improvement program, and make recommendations to the City Council relating to these topics.

I attended the meeting from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.; and during that interval, the Park Commission discussed two major topics. The first topic discussed was on behalf of a design plan made for a light post and wireless communication installation “in Piedmont Park across from 314 Wildwood Avenue.” The second topic, which I was only able to stay for the beginning of, was regarding an update of the developing Linda Beach Playfield Master Plan.

To start off the meeting, Kevin Jackson, Piedmont Planning Director, discussed the proposed plans for a lamp post. Crown Castle, the applicant, is a telecommunications contract service based in San Jose.

Jackson wanted the Park Commission to recommend the design and placement of the proposed lamp post, which is proposed to be located in Piedmont Park across from 314 Wildwood Avenue. He revealed that the initial plans were denied due to the fact that it was not consistent in the design of the lamp post and city planning. If the city doesn’t take action by a certain date, the plan will be deemed approved.

Eileen Ruby, a member of the Commission, inquired about the lightpost and its practicality, suggesting that the light post should be in a position to illuminate a pathway or add something of significance in the Park, rather than just a small patch of greenery.

I absolutely agree with Eileen Ruby on this particular topic. It seems like it would be a waste to use these resources and money on a purely decorative utility. The light post should be both practical and nice to look at.

The color of the light post was also discussed by Jim Horner, member of the Commission.

I believe that, in order to fit in with the “look” of Piedmont, it should be dark green or black in order to blend in with the foliage.

Ruby also questioned if the plans were different than those that were originally planned to be discussed, to which Jackson responded that they are in fact new plans from that morning at 10:00 a.m. Jackson reminded that the Park Commission makes the recommendations, and City Council takes action.

Pierce MacDonald Powell, a representative for Crown Castle, told those present that the light fixture is to be decorative, and listed specific conditions that the plans must meet in order for the light post to be approved and built. For example, light pollution and the sound of the light post was a major concern.

Betsy Goodman and Patty Dunlap, both members of the Commission, asked about sound from the installation, what the requirements are, and how to meet them.

Then, a few members of the audience went up to the podium to speak on this issue. Sharon, who was there on behalf of the light post, commented that the reason for the last minute design was due to new options proposed. Their new proposal was based on the lumieres at ‘Ole Miss.

Chairperson Jamie Totsubo shared that she finds this news very frustrating as they spent so much time on the planning already. Commissioner Betsy Goodman shared her concern about the location of the vault, because it is located at a handicap area of the park in the plans. She also requested that the deadline of the Commission’s recommendations be moved to a later date due to the last minute plans.

Sharon from the audience responded that it is very unlikely that this would happen. Then, another member from the audience shared his opinion for the energy vault. He believes it should be above ground, such as a mailbox design, in order to cut the issue of the sound.

Commissioner Jim Horner asked the man about the mailbox design, and if it completely gets rid of the noise issue. The response was yes; it does so because the design will make it allow the heat to be removed.

Peter Harvey, another audience member, spoke on behalf of the environmental impacts of these new installations, sharing previous data that the microwaves produced negatively impact flora and fauna surrounding it. Additionally, he noted the microwaves have affected both the behavior and development of animals.

I agree that this is an issue that must be considered when drafting any new installation plans. Since Piedmont prides itself on its beauty, the City must keep in mind the impact their plans will have on the beauty and wellbeing of the City’s natural surroundings.

Laura Menzel stepped to the podium and stated that she does not want cell phone towers located on Wildwood Avenue, as the road is already very tight and she does not want the beauty of nature around it to be diminished.

The Commission’s consensus was that the vault must be moved to a different location.

City Planner MacDonald proceeded to reiterate the Commission’s recommendations from the notes she made during the discussion. The Commission moved that the light should illuminate the path, have a single arm, be similar to the design of the lights on Oakland Avenue Bridge, be relocated outside of the pedestrian path, and be a dark color. The vote was unanimous on the first motion.

The second motion, to consider communication equipment at an alternative location, and be concealed was not unanimous, but it still passed.

After a short intermission, the meeting moved to the next topic, Linda Beach Playfield Master Plan. Nancy Kent, the Commission Staff Liaison, shared the developing plan and stated that it is fairly new. They have ideas to redo the bathrooms at the Field as well as hold a Public Forum with both children and adults to learn about their opinions and suggestions on what to do.

The Commission asked if anyone from the audience would like to speak on behalf of the Linda Beach Playfield Master Plan. At this time, I went up to the podium to share my thoughts on this particular topic. I commended them on their plan to hold a public forum, because kids are going to be the ones primarily using the field, so having both them and their parents along with other adults participate and give input in the plans is very essential. I also pushed for the remodeling of the bathrooms, as they are barely used since they are not in great condition. Additionally, I also shared that I think they should install more water fountains on the field, as it is used for sports and recreation.

Fellow classmate Emmett Reed went up to the podium and spoke about the Field, and how he agreed with me on the topic of the water fountains and bathrooms. He also shares that he believes having such a place for kids to play is beneficial. After the audience statements, I left the meeting.

During the intermission, I interviewed Betsy Goodman, the Vice Chair of the Piedmont Park Commission. She stated that she was interested in ” the hearing of Resolution PHS 09, which had to do with a telephone antennae, light fixture, and vault at the 314 Wildwood location.”  She noted that since the vault was located in the handicap ramp, the Commission had to come up with an alternative location. There were also sound issues regarding the vault which needed to be resolved. Goodman shared that in this meeting, she learned about the procedural work with the City Council, and how they need to “effectively make recommendations and motions and findings…through a long process to get there.” Goodman revealed that this meeting was a “complicated process” that they must consider in order to meet the requirements of the City and to be able to make the “best recommendation.” Goodman stated that the Commission must always try to do what they believe is “fair and necessary” for the community. In order to get their next concern addressed, Goodman and the Commission will hold further discussions with the City staff to ensure that they have a clear understanding for taking the next steps when making recommendations.

by Jessica Xiong, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the authors.
Nov 1 2017

Recreation Commission Meeting of 10/18/2017 – Schoolmates was the main item of consideration.

On the night of October 18th, 2017, I attended a Recreation Commission meeting at Piedmont City Hall with six or seven other students, a concerned father and a councilwoman in attendance. The Commission meets monthly to discuss issues pertaining to recreation within the City of Piedmont. The first issue discussed was the election of the new Chair of the Commission. The Commission casually and unanimously elected the Acting Chair,  Vice Chair, Steve Roland as Chair and Commissioner Carrie Graham Lee as Vice Chair.

After an introduction, time was allotted for people to speak about issues not on the agenda. I was the only person from the audience that spoke during this time. For some reason, I was extremely nervous, and I stumbled over many of my words at first. I proposed a program in which part-time high school and college Recreation Department employees could sign up and receive internship opportunities that relate to their employment. For example, a lifeguard could intern at the Fire Department or a paramedic company. They responded mostly by smiling and nodding respectfully.

The meeting took a more serious and professional turn when addressing the third issue on the agenda, tennis. Recreation Director Sarah Lillevand did most of the speaking during the remainder of the meeting. She first addressed updates for the tennis courts in Piedmont, including plans for maintenance and repair. Director Lillevand addressed the public tennis courts near the Municipal Swimming Pool used by the Piedmont High School tennis program , stating that they would receive a resurfacing, among other improvements. These renovations would occur either in a tight window during winter or a two week window in May after PHS Tennis season was over.

After a brief questioning by the Commission, Lillevand moved on to Schoolmates, the most discussed issue on the agenda. She began by reading out many summary stats, such as financial changes, attendance and time slots available.  Lillevand explained that even after fee increases, revenue was down 30% and participation was down 36% compared with the same 9 week period last year.

After this brief introduction, Lillevand moved on to the most important topic within the Schoolmates discussion: the 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. time slot. Since Kindergarten changed from a staggered start for a morning session and an afternoon session, to a uniform 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. kindergarten schedule, the morning hour was no longer needed by the kindergarteners, who had previously been the bulk of kids enrolled during that hour. Now, the question is whether or not to keep that hour; the only kids who are even eligible to attend are first grade late readers. It would be extremely cost inefficient to have two full time employees overseeing at most 4 or 5 children during that hour (There has to be at least two employees at the same time). Some parents rely heavily on this hour, however, and the loss of the time slot would be devastating to them. The Commission gave no solutions, only promised to continue discourse on the subject in the future.

Next was the issue of Schoolmates coverage during Parent/Teacher conference week arose. School lets out around noon every day for that whole week, however Schoolmates doesn’t offer hours until 2 p.m. Director Lillevand told the Commission that the solution is a Conference Week Camp that runs from around noon to 3 p.m, after which the regular Schoolmates would start again. This camp would be more expensive than normal Schoolmates, and would require Schoolmates to hire private contractors to help with the camp.

In response, a father expressed his concerns with this program, and with Schoolmates in general. His main point was that he was concerned with community outreach within Schoolmates and the Recreation Department, as a whole. He claimed the private contractors needed for this camp would create a divide between the Schoolmates program and the community. The Commission recognized his concerns, and told him that they would make sure the contractors were compatible with the community, and would continue to reach out to the community.

In my opinion, the Recreation Department does an excellent job with community outreach, at least within the Aquatics Department.

After a long discussion on Schoolmates, the Commission changed gears and began discussing renovations of Recreation sites around Piedmont. Lillevand explained that the renovation projects for the Aquatics Facility, Veteran’s Hall, Beach Playfield and Coach’s Field are all still in the planning phase and there is no new information on the projects.

The meeting concluded with a brief discussion about the almost completed renovation of Hampton Field. Overall, the Commission is very happy with the new field, tennis courts and basketball courts.

After the meeting, I interviewed a fellow audience member who would rather remain anonymous. The concerned citizen attended the meeting “to receive updates on the pool facility renovations,” the same reason I chose to attend the meeting. In order to keep himself updated, this concerned citizen will attend next month’s meeting.

by Robbie Alazraqui, Piedmont High School Senior


    On October 18, 2017, I attended a Recreation Commission meeting. The Commission consists of 5 commissioners, a Chair, and a Vice Chair, who all oversee public parks, sports, and recreational programs (Schoolmates, camps). They hold their meetings monthly in City Hall and they focus on many different issues around mainly Piedmont youth. The audience is able to give their opinion on any issue being discussed on the agenda by giving the Chair of the Recreation Commission a speaker card with their name and what number on the agenda they wanted to comment on.

    They began their session by doing a “Call to Order,” where the Vice Chair opened the session by stating who was present, the time, and banging the gavel. It is usually the Chair’s job to call the meeting to order, but the previous Chair had stepped down in the time between the last session and the current one, so the duty was left to Steve Roland, the Vice Chair.

   They then moved into the Public Forum, which lasts ten minutes, where anyone in the audience could voice their opinion on an issue not on the agenda. One of my peers, Robbie, was the only member of the audience to give his opinion at this time.

   After the Forum closed, they moved on to their “Regular Agenda.” Because of the vacant spot of Chair of the Recreation Commission, the first thing on the agenda was to elect a new Chair. They voted unanimously on election of Steve Roland, the current Vice Chair, to become Chair. This left a spot open for a new Vice Chair, and Carrie Graham Lee was voted unanimously, as well, to fill that role. They then approved their last meeting’s minutes (September).

    The next item on the agenda was an update from the Tennis Subcommittee, where the director of the Piedmont Recreation Department, Sara Lillevand, spoke on behalf of the Recreation  Department. She talked about proposed maintenance on the PRD tennis courts and explained that the Department wanted to repair a cracked wall, as well as extending fences between courts to limit tennis balls from entering other courts. She had a preliminary meeting with contractors on an estimate and hopes to be finished with the project by the time NCS rolls around because PHS usually hosts multiple games between the men’s and women’s teams. She will be briefing the Recreation Commission further at the next meeting.

    The Recreation Commission then transitioned to an update on Schoolmates, the daycare for kids who attend the elementary schools, where Lillevand again took the lead. The issue was that Schoolmates was not having enough participation this year and they were struggling to keep their full-time staff. The reason for this was that, for the last 15+ years, kindergarteners at Havens, Beach, and Wildwood Elementary Schools would spend half of their day in school and, as needed, the other half at Schoolmates. This year, however, the hours for kindergartens shifted to 9 a.m.-2 p.m., leaving Schoolmates in a bad spot. Schoolmates is not limited to just kindergarteners, but that is where their largest participation is.

   The Recreation Department first tried to increase fees for families to pay for staff, who are beloved on their respective campuses, but that is not a sustainable method. Even though the school year has just recently started, participation is down 31% from last year. She says that their 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. and 7:30am-8:30am slots have not changed in participation, but the middle of the day is where the drop happens, because there are no more kindergarteners there.

   A Commissioner then had the idea to use teacher aides for the in-between hours if needed, but Lillevand would like to keep the full-time staff on if that is a possibility. Then the newly elected Vice Chair, Carrie Graham Lee, asked what would happen during weeks like parent-teacher conference week, if Schoolmates would not have full-time staff working. Lillevand responded by saying that Camps during that week could be an option, although not nearly as cheap for families as Schoolmates.

   They then concluded that portion of the meeting and left it open to the public. My speaker card was read and I went up to the podium and told the members that having full-time staff at Schoolmates is so important to the community because they have such a positive impact on kids and that anything they could do to keep staff on at Schoolmates would have a lot of support from the community and myself.

    I chose to comment on Schoolmates because it was the most personal to me as I absolutely loved hanging out with Michael and David at the Havens Schoolmates when I was in Kindergarten. I still talk to them sometimes and they have always remembered who I am and ask me how my parents and siblings are doing, even though I have not been to Schoolmates in 12 years. They are truly dedicated to the town and are such a huge part of so many young kids lives in Piedmont, so that is why I felt I needed to try and support them by voicing my opinion.

    The final items on the Regular Agenda were on a couple of Master Planning projects. The Commissioners did not show the actual Master Plans for the items discussed, it seemed to have been discussed in a previous meeting. They went over plans for new aquatics facilities, where Councilwoman Teddy King spoke about a poll sent out to Piedmont citizens about the new aquatic facilities. She did not specify what they were as well.

   They transitioned to the Master Plans for the Recreation Department and Veteran’s Hall. The City wants to remodel them to make them more marketable.

   They then moved onto the Master Plans for Beach and Coaches Fields. Planning will be engaged on November 16, 2017. The last Master Plan they covered was Hampton Field. Because it is nearly complete, they only talked about finishing signage. Lillevand said that in total it was a two million dollar remodel, with $ 800,000 of that coming from private donors.

    They finished their meeting with some announcements. The most important being that Haunted House tickets are now being bought prior to the event, online. Lillevand made the change this year because she believes cash is inefficient, as it does not always get to where it needs to go.

   Chair Roland then adjourned the meeting by hitting the gavel.

    Following the meeting, I talked to Jeffrey Dorman, a newly appointed Recreation Commissioner. He chose to be on the Recreation Commission because he “had gotten involved with the Piedmont Soccer Club, and also have had kids in Recreation programs.” He believes that “having a background from the Soccer Club,’’ he “could help out especially as it relates to fields and field usage.” Since joining the Recreation Commission, he has learned that it is “way more broad and diverse than I had originally thought, it’s not all about sports, it’s also about tons of educational programs, especially programs for little kids; you don’t even realize.” He talked about how he has dealt a lot with people who want something and then the opposite side of people, who want the opposite.  I try to make decisions for the best interests of the town.” He has enjoyed his time on the Commission and hopes to continue as a member for the foreseeable future.

    I never knew that things like this existed in our town, and, honestly, I thought the meeting was fascinating. It hit close to home with Schoolmates, and I was excited to hear all the new changes to come for this town. I thought it was very cool to hear about Hampton Field because it is very nice now, and I use it quite a bit. As a student, it is great to hear about what is going on around you in your town and I am very glad this project was assigned.

by Conner Weber, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Oct 27 2017

The City Announces a Recreation Commission Vacancy

A vacancy has occurred on the Recreation Commission, as Betsy Andersen was recently appointed to the City Council.  Piedmont voters, who are interested in serving on the Commission, may download the > Application for Appointive Vacancy and read the > Commission Description of Duties.

Applications are due to City Hall on or before the deadline of Wednesday, November 15, 2017.

Interviews with the City Council for this appointed position will be scheduled for the evening of Monday, November 20, 2017. No appointment will be made without a Council interview.

For further information contact City Clerk John Tulloch at 420-3040.

Sep 4 2017

The Piedmont Park Commission will meet on Wednesday, September 6 at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, located in City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue.  The meeting will be broadcast live on cable Channel 27 and on the City’s website.

Agenda items include:

  • Citywide On and Off Leash signage,
  • Wall design for Dracena Park,
  • Heritage Tree Program,
  • Santa Lucia and Douglas fir trees in Dracena Park,
  • Update on Hampton Park Maintenance

Read complete announced agenda here.

Read Park Commission July 5 minutes here.

Aug 19 2017

There will be a Special Meeting of the City Council to hold a “Work Session on Wireless Technology and Regulatory Framework”  in the Council Chambers on Monday, August 21 starting at 5:00 p.m. The meeting will include Telecom Law Firm on the regulations and technology of wireless facilities.

Crown Castle, the wireless company with an application considered by the City Council and the Planning Commission, will make a presentation at the Piedmont Community Center in Piedmont Main Park of their revised designs on August 29, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. The public can attend the presentation.

Broadcast of the Work Session may be broadcast.  The Crown Castle presentation is not expected to be broadcast.  For further information on broadcasting, contact the Piedmont City Clerk at 420-3040.

There is no available staff report on the wireless issues.

Individuals with questions on wireless installations should contact Planning Director, Kevin Jackson at 420-3050.

The following information was found in the draft minutes of the August 14, 2017 Planning Commission meeting.

“Wireless Communication Prior to adjournment, Planning Director Jackson announced that a wireless Facilities Update facilities study session is scheduled for August 21 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. [This is an incorrect time schedule. The work session begins at 5:00 p.m.] in the Council Chambers. He stated that the meeting would include a presentation from Telecom Law Firm on the regulations and technology of wireless facilities, and that it is not specific to the Crown Castle applications. Planning Director Jackson also announced that Crown Castle would be presenting their revised designs on August 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the Community Center in Piedmont Park.”

Jul 17 2017

Recreation Commission Agenda Wednesday, July 19, 2017 7:30 p.m. City Council Chambers, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA

Call to Order Public Forum: This is an opportunity for members of the audience to speak on an item not on the agenda. The 10 minute period will be divided evenly between those wishing to address the Commission.

Regular Agenda

1. Welcome

2. Approval of Minutes – May 17, 2017 and June 21, 2017

3. Chair’s Report

4. Aquatics Coordinator Transition Plan

5. Update on PRD Adult Programming

6. Updates on Facility Master Planning Projects

  • Aquatics
  • Recreation Department/Veteran’s Hall
  • Linda Beach Playfield
  • Coaches Field

Announcements, old business

This meeting can be viewed on Cable Channel 27 or on the City of Piedmont website.


Jul 1 2017

The Piedmont Park Commission will meet on Wednesday, July 5 at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, located in City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue.  The meeting will be broadcast live on cable Channel 27 and on the City’s website.

Agenda for the meeting:

  • Approval of June 7, 2017 minutes (read the minutes here)
  • Update on Linda/Kingston Triangle ribbon cutting ceremony
  • Update on Linda Beach athletic field and other neighborhood projects
  • Update on Hampton Field Maintenance
  • Monthly Maintenance report
Jun 4 2017

The staff reports for the meeting are:

06/05/17 – Approval of a Modification to a Conditional Use Permit for Sarah Baldwin, DMD at 1375 Grand Avenue, Suite 101

06/05/17 – Introduction and 1st Reading of Ord. 732 N.S. Making a Technical Correction to Section 8.1 of the City Code to Clarify that the 2016 California Fire Code is in Effect

06/05/17 – Authorize the City Administrator to Sign a Letter of Support Authorizing Participation in the 2017 East Bay SunShares Program

06/05/17 – PUBLIC HEARING Regarding the Proposed Budget and Fee Proposals for FY 17-18 and the Levy of the Municipal Services Tax and Sewer Tax

a. Presentation of Report from the Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee

b. Report on the FY 17-18 Budget Proposal

06/05/17 – Introduction and 1st Reading of Ordinance 733 N.S. Amending Chapter 17 of the City Code Related to the Grand Avenue Sub Area of Zone D

06/05/17 – Report from the Chief of Police Regarding Diversity Education and Outreach as well as Collaboration with PUSD and Other Stakeholders (Oral Report)

06/05/17 – Consideration of the Award of Contract for the Linda Avenue Crosswalk Improvement Project to Bay Construction in the Amount of $328,672.80 and approval of an Overall Construction Budget of $406,515

06/05/17 – Consideration of the Operational Analysis for the Aquatics Center Master Plan Conceptual Design

The agenda for the City Council – Monday, June 5, 2017   < meeting.

May 22 2017

Discrimination and hateful actions impact park.  

Summer Camp programs have a high rate of registrants. 

by Alex Paton, Piedmont High School Senior – 

I attended a Recreation Commission meeting on the 17th of May 2017. During this monthly meeting, issues regarding parks and recreation throughout Piedmont are discussed by commission members and residents of Piedmont. Fundamentally, these meetings provide an opportunity for the community to discuss and brainstorm potential improvements within the Piedmont parks and recreation system.

During the meeting on May 17th, four main issues were discussed. The first of these issues was the anti-semitism, racism and general hate that has been drawn to attention throughout the community, and how this has manifested throughout the parks. The city and community are working together as a whole to move forward from these incidents and display a positive message for the younger members of Piedmont. Specifically, graffiti at Hampton park is being removed and cleaned up, and older members of the community are being encouraged to speak out and set a positive example of coexistence.

Next, the upcoming summer programs in Piedmont were discussed. There was great optimism throughout the commission as there are now 175 camps offered over 10 weeks this summer and so far, camp registration is up 22% from this time last year. Camps offered range from arts and crafts to cooking to athletics. In addition to more opportunities for campers this summer, there is also more opportunity for counselors and CITs. Greg Wick, Piedmont High Senior,  gave positive reinforcement for the new opportunities for counseling this summer and expressed his disappointment for the lack of working opportunity he experienced in the past. Overall, the Recreation Commission was overjoyed and thankful for the early success.

The recent improvements at Hampton Park were then discussed. The sixth and final basketball hoop was put up since the last meeting and just about every aspect of the park is complete. Trees which fell on and near the basketball courts have also been cleaned up and appropriate repairs have been made. I believe that the basketball courts are nice, however there is a potential hazard when the ball goes off the court and rolls down a hill. I expressed this observation and concern during the meeting, to be met with a nice reply from Carrie Graham Lee. She said they were going to put in a low net to stop this issue from occurring. I am in favor of this much needed improvement. Although not official yet, Elizabeth Smegal Andersen stated that Hampton Park is complete and open for recreation!

Lastly, updates on facility master planning projects and the Capital Improvement Projects Review Committee [CIP] were given. Aquatics are being studied for cost, meetings with the architect for the Veterans Hall have nearly concluded, Beach playfield is being evaluated for updates and Coaches Field is being reassessed for use analytics. The CIP Review Committee is also continuing to review public safety issues, such as the poor lighting at the intersection of St. James and LaSalle.

Once the meeting had concluded, I interviewed a citizen who attended the meeting. This resident of Piedmont, named Garrett Schwartz, was drawn to the meeting because of previous decisions made by the commission that he did not necessarily agree with. He did not have any current issues to be addressed, instead just wanting to “see the inner workings of the Commission and understand their decision making process”. I have to say, if everyone was so involved with the local government as Mr. Schwartz, our society would see great improvement.

 ~~~~~~ A second report on the May 17 Commission meeting  ~~~~

By Olivia Tefft, Piedmont High School Senior –

    At 7:30 p.m. on May 17, 2017, six commissioners met for a Piedmont Recreation Commission meeting. The commissioners were:  Kobi Eshun, Carrie Graham Lee, Betsy Smegal Andersen, Chairwoman, Jeffrey Dorman, and Steve Roland.  Also, present was Recreation Director Sara Lillevand.

   The purpose of this meeting was to go over recreation issues in Piedmont, ranging from summer camps to the maintenance of public parks and fields. This meeting also touched upon public safety in the schools and on the streets of Piedmont.

   One of the main points of this conference was to inform the audience of the summer activities offered through the Piedmont Recreation Department. Sara Lillevand informed the commission and the audience of new programs, like Summerfest ‘17, an affordable summer camp program facilitated by Schoolmates, and Camp Hampton, which will utilize the newly renovated Hampton Field. Lillevand also pointed out that summer camp revenues have increased 22% this year, and over 3,000 participants are registered (76% Piedmont residents).

    Two audience members, Piedmont Seniors Chris Conn and Greg Wick, spoke to Lillevand about the issue of overstaffed PRD summer camps. She acknowledged the difficulty of parsing out the perfect amount of CITS [Counselor in Training Staff] for each summer camp, but also mentioned that this problem should be mitigated this year with the high summer camp enrollment.

    The Hampton Park Improvement Project was also discussed. Lillevand informed the audience that all of the basketball posts have been put up as of today, and that the tennis backboard was put up last week. Hunter Stern, an audience member and senior at Piedmont High School, asked about hate speech graffiti that this field might be subject to, considering the outbreak of hate speech at PMS and PHS. Lillevand told him that no hate speech graffiti had occurred yet, but a conversation definitely needs to take place for the maintenance of this park.

   I agree with Hunter – I definitely think this pristine field could suffer from hateful graffiti, and I think protective measures should be put in place to prevent something harmful like this.

   Some other smaller issues that were brought up were Linda Beach Play Field and Coaches Field Master Planning, as well as uneven pathways at Crocker Park due to old trees that push up the pavement.

    The “4 Corners” intersection was also addressed because safety issues for pedestrians and drivers have arisen due to this intersection. Krysia Olszewska, an audience member, spoke about this intersection, recounting how it is difficult to see cars on the right side of the road, and therefore improvements should be made.

    At the end of this meeting, I interviewed Commissioner Steve Roland. He has been involved with the Recreation Department since 1996, and was also a sports coach for his 3 children when they participated in rec sports. He wanted to stay involved in the community after they all graduated, and the Recreation Commission was the perfect extension to continue his civic involvement. The main issue he focused on is upgrading park facilities like Coaches Field and Beach Field. He understands the difficulties of these renovation as addressed in these meetings because of difficulty getting funding for these projects. He mentioned that Hampton Park was a combination of private donations, East Bay Regional Park Bonds, and City funds.  Coaches Field and Beach Field would require similar funding. The main step he is taking in addressing this issue is continuing to participate in these meetings and trying to raise awareness and funds for these projects.

The Recreation Commission meets once a month to discuss recreation issues.

Editors Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the authors.