Well we expected civility in the hills, and that’s what happened when Montclarions showed up at Piedmont City Hall this week. Remember the kerfuffle about turning Blair Park into a temporary school zone? The sensitive issues have now been formally discussed in the open.
There were 50 audience members at Piedmont’s City Council meeting, on Monday evening. Council members reviewed all their plans for Blair Park, which included 24 modular classroom to be replaced by soccer fields in two years. Plans called for a pedestrian overpass on Moraga Ave, as well as large retaining walls (blue lines, below).
Then some 25 citizens, including 10 Montclarions, addressed the Council. They were all well-behaved and followed these prescribed rules of order: don’t repeat what was already said in e-mails to council members; don’t repeat what the previous speaker said; limit comments to the temporary school placement; and speak for two minutes or less.
Montclarions rejected the Blair Park plans because of major traffic problems that Piedmonters had not considered in their earlier assessments. The size and scope of the plans seemed inappropriate given the Moraga Canyon location, with 24,000 sq. ft. of classrooms placed in the park.
Another wrinkle emerged at the meeting, namely the retaining walls needed to shore up unstable park land. It turns out that BART construction debris was piled there in the 1970s. Thus construction engineers recommended two walls to shore up the nearby cliffs, and Piedmonters are giving the walls a second thought:
You wouldn’t let me build a four-story home in Piedmont. Why should you build a four-story wall?
A 40-foot wall will be ugly and will ruin the beauty of this entrance to Piedmont, which was recently written up as one of the most beautiful small towns in America.
What’s next? Piedmont’s School Board will meet on Wednesday, Jan. 14th to explore alternatives beyond Blair Park. These include putting portables at Wildwood and Beach schools, placing portables at Wildwood and Vista Park’s tennis courts, or using an unoccupied Emeryville school. Montclarions are welcome to attend and be heard.
The School Board members will cast their votes on Tuesday, Jan. 27th. If the recommended option involves Piedmont-owned property, then they return to the Council for approval. Now is the time to speak up, and both Piedmonters and Montclarions should contact/email members of the School Board and City Council with their concerns.
Let’s applaud the grass-roots and participatory democracy underway – as we negotiate rather than declare war in what CBS5 Eye on Blogs called the Battle of the Not-Oakland Cities.
Update: Read later takes by The Montclarion and Piedmont Neighborhood News.