Sep 17 2019

The Recreation Commission meeting agenda includes Schoolmates, Coaches Field, Social Media and Tennis/Pickleball.

The public is invited to attend the meeting in the City Council Chambers, 120 Vista Avenue at 7:30 pm on Wednesday, September 18. Minutes are kept of the meeting and the meeting is broadcast live then archived on the Piedmont website. The meeting is also broadcast live on Cable Channel 27.  See staff reports linked below.

Regular Agenda

  1. Approval of Minutes–August 21, 2019
  2. Chair’s Report
  3. Director’s Report
  4. Program/Staff Spotlight
  5. Schoolmates Update -Jackson Stearns
  6. Update:Harvest Festival September 22, 2019 -Jackson Stearns
  7. Update: Coaches Field–Public Works Director Staff Report
  8. Update: City Website Live/Social Media–City Clerk Staff Report
  9. Update: Tennis/Pickleball Sub Committee–Steve Roland

READ the draft minutes and staff reports > Sept 2019 Recreation Commission Packet.

 

Sep 4 2019

Come one and all to learn and celebrate Pickleball in Piedmont!

 Saturday, Sept. 7 at 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. is the Official Opening for the renovated Piedmont Middle School (PMS) courts.

The Saturday event will kick-off at 10 a.m., so Picklers can bask in the glory of six available courts at Piedmont Middle School.

The Piedmont Recreation Department (PRD) is graciously providing beverages and snacks.  There will be a raffle and be sure to take one of the new Piedmont Pickleball Decals. There are tables, benches and shade trees.

 Additionally:

Instruction: At 11 a.m. Marcia Nieshi, a sponsored 4.5 level professional Pickleball tournament player and a Level II Certified Professional Pickleball Instructor, will be giving lessons. Marcia teaches widely in California and Hawaii.

Food: While PRD is providing food, all are encouraged to bring whatever.  Anything from donut holes to fruit is welcome. No Moonshine.

Directions: PMS is located at 742 Magnolia Avenue, Piedmont. You can park on Magnolia Avenue or surrounding streets. There is construction on Saturdays so parking right in front can be problematic. The badminton/pickleball courts are down the hill behind the Middle School; take the steps down to the right of the gym. Alternately there is a parking lot off El Cerrito Avenue leading to Witter Field and you can walk up; this lot is likely full on weekends. Use Google Maps.

Water Fountains Right before the 2nd set of steps is a water fountain/bottle station. There is a 2nd water fountain below at court level.

Restrooms: There are restrooms going back up PE Hill behind the first court to the left by the Waste Bins. Participants will help newcomers to find restrooms.

The normal Piedmont Pickleball schedule:

Tuesday              10:00 to 12:30  Linda Playground tennis courts
Wednesday         12:30 to 3:00    Hampton Sports Field tennis courts 
Thursday            10:00 to 12:30  Linda Playground tennis courts
Friday                 12:30 to 3:00   Hampton Sports Field tennis courts  
Saturday            10:00 to 2:00   Piedmont Middle School (“PMS”) Badminton Courts
Sunday               1:00 to 5:00     Piedmont Middle School Badminton Courts

– If a ball enters your court or you hit into another court yell “ball on,” stop play and return the ball.
– Wear court shoes, bring a hat/cap, sunblock and water. Flip-flops, sandals and street shoes are unsafe.
– Only use paddles on the approved list and the City supplied Onix type balls. Loaner paddles are provided.
– Piedmont staff will set up/tear down nets and player help is encouraged.
– If no staff person is present then all players help set up and break down the nets.
– Linda and Hampton benches are for sitting; they are not storage shelves.
– Do not coach another player unless you were asked or your offer to coach is accepted.

Sep 1 2019

Piedmont Park Commission Agenda

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

5:30 p.m. City Council Chambers, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA

Staff reports are linked below the agenda list.

1. Approval of Park Commission Minutes for August 7, 2019 

2. Consideration of a Request to Remove a Street Tree at 331 Magnolia Ave. by Eric Schen and Laurie Lau

3. Update on Annual Playground Inspections

4. Update on Lower Grand Avenue Median Landscape Improvements

>Staff reports and Park Commission Agenda_Sept.4, 2019

Aug 18 2019

The community is invited to the celebration!

The City of Piedmont, Piedmont Recreational Facilities Organization, and Piedmont High School Tennis invite the entire community to celebrate the Grand Opening of the new Corey Reich Tennis Center (CRTC) on Saturday, August 24th from 1-3pm. Opening ceremonies and brief remarks will be followed by a free youth clinic for ages 8-12 taught by PHS tennis players, and refreshments will be served.

While the entire project is not yet complete, the playing surface upgrade has been finished and the courts opened for Recreation Department clinic use on August 5th. The courts officially opened on August 12th for public use and Piedmont High School (PHS) practices.

“This project has been exciting and rewarding on many fronts,” said Sara Lillevand, Piedmont’s City Administrator. “The work to date has gone smoothly and now we’re thrilled to share the facility with the community who helped make it happen and proud to have the upgraded playing surface ready for the PHS Girls Tennis season.”

The balance of renovations will take place over the coming months, including installation of new bleachers for spectators and tennis court benches for players, installation of new LED lights, installation of a new drinking fountain with water bottle filler, and a permanent Wall of Champions to recognize winning teams and players from Piedmont High School tennis teams as well as a new entryway.

Fundraising efforts have yielded more than $400,000 for the project, and donations continue to be welcomed. Various sponsorship packages, on-site recognition levels, and online donation information can be found at www.prfo.org/corey.

The new tennis center honors Corey Reich, a 2004 graduate of Piedmont High School and a member of the Men’s Varsity Tennis Team. In 2007 while in college, he was diagnosed with ALS, and has served as the Assistant Coach for the Piedmont High School Boys’ and Girls’ Varsity Tennis teams. Corey has been instrumental in the continued success of the PHS tennis program, whose programs have been the only ones to qualify every year for the NCS Team Championships since its inception in 1998-99.

The Corey Reich Tennis Center is located near the Piedmont Municipal Pool at the corner of Vista and Bonita Avenues in Piedmont.

Aug 18 2019

Looking for a sports program for your child to try to continue to refine skills? The Piedmont Recreation Department Sports Department (PDR) provides positive recreation experiences for Elementary and Middle School participants. These experiences help youth develop new physical and social skills in a fun, participatory and safe environment under the guidance of knowledgeable and supportive coaches. In this way PRD’s Sports Programs contribute to an individual’s physical, social, emotional, cultural and educational growth and development.

Of the many offerings, here are a few highlights:

JUNIOR CROSS COUNTRY

This popular program for each elementary school provides kids an introduction to cross country running. Practices include warm-up exercises, stretching, games, agility drills and an endurance run of about one mile. Program size is limited to 25 students for each site. The season ends with a cross country meet at Witter Field for all three schools to run in some friendly competition. T-shirt included.

GRADES 4-5

T/Th 9/3-10/24 from 3:15-4:15pm

Beach School 194401

Havens School 194402

Wildwood School 194403

Piedmont Middle School CROSS COUNTRY

Cross Country practices foster running for endurance, improving form, warm-up exercises, cool down techniques and building core muscles through proper running mechanics! There will be meets with other middle schools where 6th graders run a mile and 7th and 8th graders run 1.25 miles. Students must be able to run one mile or twelve minutes continuously, at whatever speed, and participate at least one day a week. Piedmont Middle School enrollment is required.

GRADES 6-8

Witter Track

M/Tu/Th 8/27-11/1 from 3:15-5:00pm and Wed from 2:15-3:45pm

PMS FLAG FOOTBALL

Grow, learn, be challenged and have a blast in the Flag Football program! Develop individual and team skills and build strong comradery with teammates and coaches. This is a combined 6-8 grade program. Small teams will beheld vs. each piedmont team.

GRADE 6 194426

GRADE 7 194427

GRADE 8 194428

Piedmont Middle School enrollment is required. 

Registration required for clinics and evaluation.

Team Practice at Witter Baseball Field

M/Tu 8/26 – 10/23 from 3:30pm – 5:00pm and Wed from 2:15pm – 3:45pm

JUNIOR VOLLEYBALL

Have fun and grasp the basic knowledge of the game of volleyball through engaging and high energy drills! This program will emphasize individual skill development.

GRADES 4-5 194400

Buzz Redford Gym

Wed 8/28-10/9 from 3:45pm – 5:00pm

PMS VOLLEYBALL

GRADE 6 194429

Come join the fun and engaging game of volleyball! Become more knowledgeable players and develop a solid understanding of the game through individual and team drills as well as intramural scrimmages!

Buzz Redford Gym

Wed 8/28-10/11 from 2:15pm – 3:45pm and Fri from 3:30pm – 5:00pm

GRADE 7 194430

GRADE 8 194431

Grow as a volleyball player and teammate and deepen your knowledge of the game. Be challenged by coaches that are eager to see you develop and have a blast representing the Highlander Volleyball Program through engaging competition with neighboring schools! Piedmont Middle School enrollment is required.

Registration required for clinics and evaluation.

PRE-SEASON CLINIC & EVALS at Morrison Gyms

Wed 8/21 from 2:15pm – 3:45pm

Mandatory evaluations are to assess interest and skill level, no cuts.

TEAM PRACTICE

Morrison/Buzz Gyms

8/26 – 10/17 (90 minute time blocks)

M/Tu/Th from 3:30pm – 5:00pm and Wed from 2:15pm – 3:45pm

Games: Can be Mon – Th starting at 4:00, or 5:00pm

MIDDLE SCHOOL EVENING TENNIS (Beginning & Intermediate/Advanced)

Work with Coach Jim Landes to improve your tennis game. You learn techniques and skills that can be used for a lifetime of tennis. Class will cover tennis fundamentals including forehands, backhands, volleys, and serves. This class is for beginners players with no or limited experience. Grouped by skill level.

Beginning  194085

Int/Adv 194086

READ the full Piedmont Recreation Department information HERE.

Jul 7 2019

City Commissions Will Not Meet in July

There will be a lull in City Commission meetings throughout the month of July with no meetings of the Park, Planning or Recreation Commissions.  In addition, the standard July 15, 2019, City Council meeting will not be held.

Scheduled July meetings of the Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee and the Police and Fire Pension Board have not been cancelled.

The City Charter revision (Charter Amendment Measure BB) approved by Piedmont voters at the November 2018 election eliminated the requirement that the City Council meet twice a month.

Jun 21 2019

Fencing in Lower Dracena Park Quarry will be increased.

DRACENA PARK QUARRY FENCING PROJECT June 25th to June 28th

The grassy circle in Lower Dracena Park, site of the old Dracena rock quarry, has had an ongoing issue with rocks sliding off the walls of the former quarry onto the encircling walkway. Although potentially dangerous, children frequently find climbing on the unstable rock sides adventurous. 

The potential for rock slides has been known since Dracena Park was originally developed decades ago from a pond, old quarry, and City storage facility. 

Park goers have long noticed strong fencing intermittently  installed around the quarry sides placed to keep rocks from falling on those enjoying the park.  Existing fencing has proven to be insufficient, as rocks often cascade below onto the perimeter walkway.

The new fencing is being installed in rock slide areas to  further protect park visitors and prevent children from climbing on the dangerous rock sides.

The City of Piedmont will install safety fencing within certain areas of the Dracena Park quarry area between Tuesday, June 25th and Friday, June 28th. During this work, the quarry area will be closed for public use between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. and barricades and signage will be in place during this time. The Tot Lot and all other areas of the park will remain open to all users while the quarry area is closed.

As with all construction projects, there may be periods of time when there will be noise and dust created. Best management practices will be in place to minimize impacts to nearby residents and park users. The City will be reserving the needed parking spaces for the contractor at the end of Artuna Ave.

If you have questions regarding this project or have special circumstances that the City should be aware of, please contact Director of Public Works Chester Nakahara at (510) 420-3061 or via email at cnakahara@piedmont.ca.gov. Thank you for your cooperation.

Chester G. Nakahara Director of Public Works

Posted: June 21, 2019

Jun 18 2019

Based on a plan developed by Piedmont residents William Blackwell and Chuck Oraftik in 2009-2010, the City has been pursuing enlargement of Coaches Field on Moraga Avenue across from Blair Park that will allow use by baseball, soccer, and other field sports. 

To enlarge the playing surface the new plan calls for cutting into the hillside located adjacent to the Corporation Yard at Red Rock Road and Moraga Avenue, adding night lighting, and increasing the number of available parking spaces.

To view the staff report and the concept plan for Coaches Field produced by Callander & Associates, click below:

06/17/19 – Receipt of a Report Regarding the Concept Plan for the Coaches Field Expansion by Callander & Associates

With the acceptance of the design concept by the City Council, environmental work is being sought.  Click below to read the Request for Proposals.

06/17/19 – Consideration of the Issuance of a Request for Proposals for CEQA Services for the Coaches Field Renovation Project

May 28 2019

Letter to Piedmont Pickleball Enthusiasts:

I am thrilled to report that much progress has been made on potential renovations to the Piedmont Middle School hard court surfaces. The City and the School District have been working together to move this project forward and make it a reality this summer!   The project includes re-grading all three spaces, drainage improvements, new asphalt, new poles/nets and new striping that accommodates 6 regulation size pickleball courts with adequate space on sides and ends of each court.

I hope to bring a reimbursement and use agreement to City Council for their review on Monday June 3rd. The total cost of construction will be roughly $60,000 and PUSD will manage the project in its entirety.  PUSD will cover the costs of the new poles and netting system as well as construction management. I will be requesting City Council consider reimbursement to PUSD up to $50,000 for this project.  It would be wonderful if the Pickleball community could bring forth some private contributions to offset a portion of this $50,000 ask.  The use agreement would provide for the Recreation Department to have priority use of the space during non-school hours for formal and informal community use. That translates to plenty of open pickleball time for you all!

I am happy to take donations directly and/or you can organize amongst yourselves to collect contributions and bring them forth as a lump sum to the Council.

Checks can be made out to “City of Piedmont” with PMS Pickleball in the note and mailed or dropped at Piedmont Recreation Department. 358 Hillside Ave. 94611

Please feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions.

Thank you for your ongoing enthusiasm and support in bringing Pickleball to Piedmont!

Sara Lillevand, Director of Recreation, City of Piedmont

510-420-3070

May 16 2019

City Administrator Paul Benoit describes Piedmont’s financial state.

“Piedmont’s financial position, year over year, can be described as ‘STABLE’ at best.”

Maintaining stability requires significant discipline and focus and we have done a good job of it. In recent years we have been working hard to look beyond simply maintaining stable services, and have been exploring opportunities to meet the needs of the future and to improve both the quality and delivery of services. Piedmont is facing, and will continue to face, significant and costly challenges that will need to be addressed – and most are related to the condition of public facilities and infrastructure.

Relative to the City Budget and our ability to make needed investments, it is important to recognize that Piedmont’s General Fund is dominated by property-related taxes, which make up nearly 70% of total revenue. Property based taxes are fairly predictable, with the exception of the Real Estate Transfer Tax.

Because City revenue is derived primarily from property related taxes we are able to make long-term budget projections with a good degree of confidence; additionally, it limits our exposure to the risks associated with significant swings in revenue, such as those experienced by cities heavily reliant on sales taxes.

On the downside we have little ability to increase revenue to the City’s General Fund in any meaningful way — absent voter-approved increases in the rate of the Municipal Services Special Tax, also known as the Parcel Tax, or in the Transfer Tax.

For these reasons, we very purposely:

  •  focus on the delivery of basic services and core programs;
  •  budget carefully and conservatively; and
  •  work diligently to safeguard our financial position by mitigating, to the extent possible, the impact of rising expenses which the City has little control over – particularly CalPERS related benefit costs which constitute an unfunded liability of just over $25 million.

On this latter point, the Council has proactively established a program of pension cost-sharing with employees and has curtailed retiree medical benefits for new hires.  These two initiatives, taken together, slowed the growth rate of our Underfunded Liabilities and will save the City millions of dollars in benefit-related expenses over the years to come.

Another significant action to buffer the effects of rising pension costs was the establishment of a Pension Rate Stabilization Fund, also known as a Section 115 Irrevocable Trust Fund, with the Public Agency Retirement Services – or PARS.

To date, the City Council has approved a total transfer of $2.75 million to PARS from the General Fund. One key benefit of this initiative is that funds deposited with PARS may achieve higher earnings due to less restrictive investment policies than apply to City funds invested in Local Agency Investment Fund.

As a result of the CalPERS decision to reduce the planned rate of return (Discount Rate), the City’s annual pension contributions are projected to increase from the current $2.2 million (7.5% of City revenue) to $5.5 million (13.3 % of City revenue) by 2029. This equates to a cost increase of approximately 132%, while City revenue over this same 10 year period is estimated to increase by only 35%.

As soon as 2023, and potentially continuing through 2031, the increase in mandatory pension contributions is projected to result in General Fund expenses exceeding revenue. When we face these net-negative revenue years, the City will be in a position to stabilize the General Fund by drawing down on its PARS account to pay pension costs.

Overall, prior City Councils and the current Council, working together with staff, have applied wisdom in managing the City’s limited financial resources. Piedmont now has a modest Reserve of just under $5 million, which represents 17% of our operating budget. Absent a catastrophic event, that amount should be of significant help in responding to an emergency or addressing unforeseen circumstances.

While there are no established policies to guide what constitutes “reasonable”, the reserve for the City of Piedmont is restricted by the City Charter to no more than 25% of the Operating Budget.

To put our City’s reserve in perspective, at the end of last fiscal year Emeryville, with a population similar to Piedmont’s, maintained a reserve of $30.3 million, which equates to approximately 76% of their General Fund; Albany’s was $8.8 million, which is 45% of their General Fund; Berkeley had a reserve of $84 million or 55% of their General Fund; and Oakland’s was approximately $150 million or 24% of their General Fund.

In addition to maintaining a modest reserve, the City has been making consistent, long-needed transfers to the Facilities Maintenance and Equipment Replacement Funds, and has also made much needed investments in our IT Systems, with a goal of bringing our use of technology into the modern era.

At the start of this Fiscal Year the Equipment Replacement Fund is projected to have a balance of $2.75 million – which, assuming we continue to make the planned annual transfers from the General Fund, should be sufficient to address the schedule for equipment replacement into the future.

The Facilities Maintenance Fund is projected to have a balance at the start of the year of only $4.8 million. This amount is far short of what is required to address accessibility, life-safety, life- cycle, and efficiency issues of our city’s facilities and property.

Piedmont’s facilities, like so many of the homes in Piedmont, are old and expensive to maintain. While aesthetically pleasing, most of our facilities are in need of significant repair and renovation.

On the whole, our community facilities and infrastructure have been kept largely functional, but it is time to devote the attention and investment necessary to meet community needs, let alone current safety or accessibility standards.

  •  Miles of sidewalks and pathways are in poor condition, and our City Engineer has estimated that we could spend on the order of $11 million on sidewalk and trail repair alone.
  •  To keep the Pavement Condition Index of our streets from deteriorating will require an estimated annual paving expenditure of approximately $1.5 million – up from the current $1 million – and this is assuming a competitive bid environment. As you know, the Engineer’s estimate for the repaving of Magnolia Avenue was $1.3 million. The sole bid submitted was for $1.7 million. So, the estimated $1.5 million required to maintain the condition of our streets could actually have increased to $2 million or more.
  •  The Veterans Hall and Recreation Building are virtually in the same condition and configuration as when they were originally built 50 to 100 years ago. Bringing them to where they should be would require an estimated investment of $6 to 7 million.
  •  The Community Pool cannot remain open much longer without substantial investment. While short-term fixes may postpone the eventual closing, safety issues are significant and the pool is losing an estimated 1 million gallons of water per year via unidentified leaks. Based on the recently completed Aquatics Master Plan, the cost of a modern and safe facility that meets community needs is estimated at between $12 million and $15 million.

Our beloved City Hall has significant needs rarely seen by the public. Low, open ceilings with exposed wires, water intrusion during storms, fire safety and accessibility issues are just a few of the problems.

At times, I hear comments asserting that the City does not have the space needed to support our programs. The fact is we have the “space”. We just need to make the investment needed to address the efficiency, functionality and accessibility issues that limit program opportunities as well as use by staff, the very young, and seniors.

The bottom line fact is that many of our facilities and amenities are inefficient, have significant condition issues limiting usage, and are not where they should be relative to life, safety, and accessibility standards – let alone to where they should be for a community like Piedmont.

Like the School District’s initiatives to invest in modernizing the Elementary Schools and High School to meet 21st Century needs, it is time to apply a similar focus to improving our City facilities and infrastructure.

In recent years, under the leadership of the City Council and with the support of city staff, there has been the political and organizational will to take a fresh and realistic look at our facilities and systems and to make the initial investment needed to develop a clear understanding of the issues and the opportunities for improvement.

While we have been doing the work necessary to develop that understanding—- the reality is that the City’s financial position, in the best of times, will only support an incremental approach to completing the work that needs to be done.

Unfortunately, for many facilities, an incremental approach will not get us to where we need to be.

To summarize:

Maintaining the current condition of our street paving, addressing unsafe sidewalks and pathways, and implementing priority pedestrian and bicycle safety projects will cost an estimated $23 million.

Factoring in the Recreation Building and the basement of City Hall adds up to $7 million. To address the pool and Veterans Hall, add another $17 million. Linda Beach Park improvements are estimated to cost $7 million. Improving Coaches Field could cost up to $4 million. All together these projects total $58 million.

Looking to the future, barring a natural disaster, bringing our facilities and civic infrastructure into the 21st century will be the City’s biggest challenge and greatest opportunity for the betterment of the Piedmont community.

With attention and investment our facilities can continue to serve the community for another 100 years. Doing what has to be done will take time, focus, persistence, vision and leadership. To our good fortune, we have all the right people in place, with the right mix of vision and talent, to meet these challenges.

Paul Benoit, Piedmont City Administrator

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.