May 8, 2013
To All Friends of Moraga Canyon,
It’s been exactly a year since the City Council “unapproved” the proposed sports field complex in Blair Park which seems like a good time to publish an update on FOMC activities. Yes, we are still active in Moraga Canyon!
BLAIR PARK IMPROVEMENT PLAN
As you know, a portion of the settlement with the City of Piedmont was for PRFO to transfer $15,000 from their contingency fund with the City of Piedmont to a separate fund for Blair Park . A special committee within FOMC has been working with city staff to define a landscape improvement plan for Blair Park. The intent of the plan is as follows:
“The proposed project is to develop a low impact Landscape Improvement Plan that meets the general intent of preserving and enhancing the natural state of the existing open-space gateway to the City of Piedmont. It is the intent of the City to enhance the park as an attractive, ecologically diverse, natural setting for park users and wildlife habitat with a minimum of new physical improvements. At this time, there are no plans to increase the available off-street parking or create new pedestrian access, but to nevertheless make what is existing and to remain, more aesthetically pleasing. If deemed appropriate, new plantings and ground covers shall be limited to native, drought tolerant species that promote this natural setting.”
Specifically, the proposal requests a thorough assessment and recommendations for existing trees in the park; identification of replacement trees for any removal; and recommendations for removal of invasive plants, weed abatement, and erosion control. The proposal also calls for enhancing the appearance of the street scape, improvement of a trail within the park, and any additional recommendations that the consultant would suggest that would preserve and enhance the natural state of the park.
The invitation to bid was sent recently to a number of landscape architects suggested by FOMC and city staff with proposals due in about one week. Per the settlement agreement with Piedmont, FOMC will continue to confer with city staff throughout the selection and implementation process. Final contract approval will be made by Piedmont City Council after review by the Parks Commission.
Many thanks to the members of the FOMC Blair Park Restoration & Preservation Committee: Joannie Semitekol, Marj Blackwell, Peggy Esposito, Sinan Sabuncuoglu and Chris Read. They will continue to update us on progress and notify FOMC of any upcoming public hearings.
WORK DAY ON MORAGA MEDIAN – May 11th 10am – Noon
Many of you may be aware that about two years ago, the Friends of Moraga Canyon joined several Oakland neighborhood groups in adopting a portion of the large median on Moraga Avenue adjacent to the Oakland/Piedmont border. While the City of Piedmont has rebuffed our offers to volunteer in Blair Park, the City of Oakland has supplied daffodil and freesia bulbs, orange work vests and mulch for the initial work. Local merchants have donated lumber and paint to repair the white fence running along the length of the median. Neighbors have donated money, time, paint, bulbs, ground covers, and labor to improve the appearance of the median.
Peggy Esposito, who has coordinated all the volunteer efforts as well as acted as liaison to Oakland staff, has just received confirmation that the city will plant 3 new Chinese Pistache trees in the central median. She has been working tirelessly to obtain this approval – many thanks to Peggy!
Everyone is invited to the next work day on Saturday, May 11th from 10:00 a.m. til 12:00 noon. Please come and lend a hand. Activities will be mostly weeding, so bring gloves and any hand tools you think might be helpful. If you have exterior white paint, please bring that as well as a paint brush/roller to spruce up the fence. Because of the high traffic volume on Moraga Avenue, it is not appropriate to bring small children.
PRFO REIMBURSEMENTS TO CITY
PRFO owes the City $220,000 in legal costs, which they formally agreed in writing to pay to “indemnify the City” against lawsuits. They are now disputing the costs billed by the City Attorney and consultants to review project documents. “Discussions” between the City Administrator and PRFO reps have been ongoing for months. The questions here is: What is there to discuss when the agreement was specifically put in place to cover just this type of liability to the City?
On another note, inquiries to the City Administrator regarding when the story poles in Blair Park will be removed have remained unanswered. Apparently, ‘the gift’ had multiple strings attached……
Regards to all,