The Council Resolves Schoolyard Dispute

Last Tuesday eve, we switched to the Oakland City Council’s marathon meeting on Channel 10.  When the subject of local park projects came up for review, it felt like we were watching the Council resolve their schoolyard dispute live.

The Council approved resolutions to submit eight park projects for external grants.  Let’s rewind back to the original resolutions, beginning with seven projects nominated by district.  The process leading to approvals showed the balancing act between district and city-wide priorities.

City Council - Nov 3, 2009

Which projects would get funded? Well, no one knows ahead of time.  To keep things equitable, Council reps had decided to recommend one favored project for their respective districts.  Like any major metro, Oakland has a reasonable shot at receiving external funds for some park improvements.

Could another project be added? At the Council meeting, a handful of impassioned residents spoke about the need for a second West Oakland project:  a teen center.  They claimed that kids would stay out of trouble with somewhere to go, and it was hard to argue with the request at face value.

What process should Council follow? The schoolyard confusion began in earnest when Council Rep Nancy Nadel wanted to add this project in her district.  At-large Rep Rebecca Kaplan said that she never recommended a project before, and supported this new teen center.  Larry Reid protested repeatedly because the rules had changed in the game, and he had other projects that mattered too.

When could projects expand? There was some back-and-forth about combining the two West Oakland projects together. Yet that was scratched when a city staffer explained the grant process required projects to be located on contiguous property.

It was getting late.  Council Prez Jane Brunner said “enough” and the resolutions were passed:  five yeas; one nay; one abstention; one absence.  Despite schoolyard jealousy, eight projects made this final list.

Now the real work begins with a bevy of community meetings and project planning preps ahead – all required to improve Oakland’s odds at winning a capital infusion.

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