Editor’s Note: This first-ever Special Edition of the “Splash Pad News” simultaneously gives a nod to the past and to the future. As for the nod to the past, ninety percent of the content in this Special Edition is focused on Splash Pad Park and the Grand Lake Farmers Market – as was the case early on. The future is represented in the timing of this edition (less than two weeks after the one previous) in keeping with our intention to become a far more timely source of late-breaking news. And lastly, the future is further demonstrated thanks to feature stories by three of our new contributors: Keila Diehl, Sheila McCormick and Sarah Van Roo.
There’s very good news to report on the Farmers Market front. Thanks to a huge assist from Council Member Guillen, the market management has obtained use of the American Indian Charter School (formerly Lakeview) for parking. I haven’t been informed of the details but I checked it out the Saturday before last and the parking lot AND playground were both accessible with a handful of cars taking advantage of free parking. There appears to be room for well over a hundred cars and trucks.
The bigger story about the market is that the City’s Economic Development agency is recommending approval of the Agricultural Institute of Marin’s request for a five-year lease with five one-year options. If you’ve been a regular reader of the “Splash Pad News” you’re undoubtedly aware of the extent to which a lot of neighbors are disillusioned with the current management. Our objections are spelled out in an Open Letter that I emailed on Thursday to Abel and to the four members of the council who sit on the Community Economic Development Committee that was scheduled to meet on Tuesday. At Abel’s request, the lease agreement was removed from the CED Committee agenda for this coming week – but should be rescheduled for later in the month.
To be absolutely clear, we have no objections to the Grand Lake Farmers Market itself. To the contrary, we’re amongst its staunchest supporters. What we want is new management willing to properly protect and maintain the park’s infrastructure; lessen congestion; pay a fair rental fee to the city; and offer more services that would benefit shoppers as well as neighborhood institutions and businesses.
To that end, we’re asking the entire council to reject the terms of the proposed lease agreement and instead, to issue a request for proposals from other competent operators. One Grand Lake Farmers Market veteran would love Oakland to follow the example of the City of San Francisco, which operates the Civic Center Plaza Market. He notes that the proceeds “pay for Plaza maintenance; pay a manager and a helper good money, with money left over to provide for schools, homeless shelters, and even the police”. He would be absolutely delighted if Oakland were to follow suit – particularly since he claims that a significant number of farm operators are up in arms over a host of new AIM regulations – most recently, one that mandates minimum prices and prohibits end-of-the-day discounts. He’s also saying that vendors at the AIM markets are becoming increasingly frustrated with upper management and are threatening a strike. They are particularly outraged by the latest directive which mandates price points and punishes vendors for reducing prices.
I’d be delighted if the City of Oakland were to express interest in managing the market but that seems highly unlikely. For me, the equally attractive alternative would be formation of a community non-profit board to do so. We could pay the special event fees mandated by the Master Fee Schedule (over $5,000 monthly) plus salaries and other expenses and still have profits more than adequate to fund major infrastructure improvements in the park and also fund projects and programs here and elsewhere in the city.
In addition, as locals, we’d be far more attuned and more motivated to provide community benefits. To cite one example: in the past, the market hosted fundraising concerts for the music programs at Brewer and Westlake Middle Schools. The last one was in 2007. It should and could be an annual tradition. As another example, I personally organized a series of food tastings at the market as a way of promoting local restaurants. We could do that and also finds ways to better support schools, local musicians, artists and the adjacent commercial district.
If you share our desire to open the process and bring in other potential local operators, please take the time to read my Open Letter to the city council members and then lobby them to issue a Request for Proposals. Here’s a complete List of Council Members. When you send emails, please carbon-copy us at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll send you a letter of thanks – along with an update when a new hearing on the proposed lease is scheduled.
Splash Pad Park’s Plant Whisperer
by Sarah Van Roo
“The undulating concrete walls that Hood designed provide a boundary for the native plant garden – the success of which rests, in large part, in Mary Jo Sutton’s muddy hands and is due to her sustained efforts. She’s the unquestioned leader of the “Splash Pad Grand Crew” volunteer team. She’s gained their respect through her brains, wiry brawn, and skills as a knowledgeable horticulturist with a vast knowledge of California natives. As she’s helped transform the space into an understated showplace over the past several years, her background in museum display design and her eye for beauty has become apparent.”
SPLASH PAD PARK
The 4th Sunday work day at Splash Pad will be on February 26. The Grand Crew’s December holiday vacation combined with an abbreviated January work day due to the rain-soaked grounds, translates to a serious backlog of weeding and we’d love to have additional support. Work days always begin at 9 AM and conclude at Noon with a communal lunch during which we congratulate one another for a job well done.
As already mentioned above, I’d love to expand the scope of the work day on the 26 to scrub down the Names in Lights panels and make them shine. If you can help specifically for this purpose, please email email@example.com and specify “Clean NIL” on subject line.
This particular bed (originally planted with Dogwood) was re-landscaped with drought-tolerant California Natives just over a year ago and has already filled in beautifully. The very large bed adjacent to the East end of the plaza was just planted months ago but, thanks to all the rain, they’ve got a great head-start.
SPLASH PAD’S NAMES IN LIGHTS PANELS in RETROSPECT
I‘ve been giving a lot of thought, of late, to the Names in Lights panels that were installed in the Splash Pad plaza in 2003. That’s partly due to infrastructure problems that needed to be addressed. A partial break in the Lakeview School image was my biggest concern. I’m pleased to report that a Public Works crew repaired the break with a weld a couple of weeks ago and also replaced a bunch of the screws that secure the panels. Hopefully, the remaining repairs will be completed sometime soon.
The other reason the Names in Lights have been on my mind is because they are, in a very real sense, a “Wayback Machine” writ large, in quarter-inch steel plate. Curious as to which businesses had and had not survived, I put together the photo gallery posted below. A lot of the information provided is from memory and, in a few cases, I can’t recall where a business was located; what they sold; who were the owners. Please post Comments to help me fill in the blanks and correct factual errors. In the next “News”, I’ll post photos of the rest of the panels that primarily include individuals, groups, institutions and scattered businesses.
More background information about the Names in Lights is available on the ABOUT PAGE on the Splash Pad website.
PLEASE CLICK INDIVIDUAL PHOTOS TO ENLARGE
BTW: The steel panels are downright filthy. If you’d be willing to help scrub them (even if it’s only one small section with your name or that of friends and neighbors), please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll assemble the necessary supplies in conjunction with our next work day on Sunday, February 26.
EXPLORING OUR NEIGHBORHOODS on FOOT and WITH CAMERA
by Sheila McCormick
Editor’s Note: This is a third in a series of neighborhood walks posted by Sheila McCormick – a UCB Professor and long-time resident near the Cleveland Cascades. The prior walks are available on the Splash Pad Facebook page.
“Another neighborhood walk, 3.2 miles, 309 ft. gain in elevation. A bit muddy on the trail through Oak Grove Park, then up Mandana to LaSalle and back down to Lakeshore via Sunnyhills and Trestle Glen. En route, you will see a peaceful garden, magnolia flowers, majestic redwood, guard dog, historical marker explaining Trestle Glen’s name and a tulip sculpture.”
GRAND AVENUE NEWS
There’s two marvelous concerts scheduled for this week – starting Friday evening, February 17, with Studio Grand’s monthly “Balkan Night” concert, featuring Laura Lackey’s Rhythm Revue and the Het Hat Club. Check out the sound track on the Het Hat Club website and they’ll chase your blues away.
On Sunday evening (February 19) from 5 – 7 PM, Panorama Framing is hosting a solo concert by Josh McClain in connection with the upcoming release of his newest album. The invitation specifies: “Bring a chair, bring a friend, and come on by to support Josh & hear some incredible music!”. Patrick has also announced that this will be the first in a semi-monthly in-house concerts.
Also on the 19th, Studio Grand is hosting an opening night reception beginning at 7 PM for a exhibit by Adrian Arias entitled, “Angels in a Time of a Dictatorship”. A performance inspired by Arias’s show begins at 7:30.
Thanks to Scott Burke and Kenda Burke from Awaken Chiropractic for their generous donation to the Grand Avenue tree-planting campaign in response to our request two weeks ago. Coordinators Russell Hill and Eric Hughes are continuing to seek additional donations and/or outside funding. If you can help, please send donations to: Sierra Club Tree Team, c/o Anna Robinson, 1865 San Pedro Ave, Berkeley 94707. Mark your donation check “Grand Avenue Tree Account.” Paypal is also accepted at THIS LINK.
For an always up-to-date business directory, click and save the…
GRAND AVENUE FIRST THURSDAYS
FIRST THURSDAY GALLERIES
If you missed the February First Thursday event, visitors are always welcome to view the artwork for the remainder of the month.
Better Homes & Gardens (3923 Grand) is exhibiting Earth Spirits Photographs by Natalie Wesley.
Jau Jou Studio is showing abstracts by Berkeley resident, Micah Liedeker.
Baraka Gallery is continuing to feature tiny beadwork masterfully handcrafted. The teapot is always on.
The Libertine is featuring local artists.
510 Brand is featuring painting by store employees, including Culling Cahayag, Nina Simi, and Natasha Reh.
FIRST THURSDAY PREVIEW IN MARCH: Panorama Framing will be hosting an Opening Night Reception on March 2 for a show of original watercolors by Michelle Provenzano entitled, “Miniature Tribal Rugs and Meditation”.
In connection with the reception, I’m offering a personal guided tour of Grand Avenue that will start with a glass of wine and a few nibbles at Panorama. The full tour will include stops at all the art venues plus some historical diversions. For example, why did the original “Smitty” have a reputation for extreme generosity and where’s the location of the very first Dreyer’s Ice Cream factory. Tour will be limited to the first fifteen individuals who email info@SplashPad.org with Tour Guest in the subject line. Be forewarned, however, if Bell and Iron Tattoo is open when we walk by, I’ll pop my head in and request a group rate.
The February meeting of the Grand Lake Neighbors group on Wednesday, February 15, will include the monthly crime report and a discussion on how to best solicit community input regarding the 500 Lake Park project. The major item on the agenda, however, will be a presentation by Neighbors for Racial Justice exploring “how to examine implicit bias and other patterns that lead to profiling” while building “neighborhoods that are safe and welcoming for all.”
The March 15 promises to be equally informative as EBMUD Board Member Marguerite Young is scheduled to talk about the prospects of major infrastructure repairs. Her presentation will be accompanied by a slide show that documents the replacement of the water main on a two-block length of Balfour Avenue.
- Wednesday, February 15, 7 – 8:30 PM: Grand Lake Neighbors meeting – Lakeshore Baptist Church Family Room
- Friday, February 17, 7 – 8:30 PM: Balkan Night Concert at Studio Grand
- Sunday, February 19, 5-7 PM: Solo concert by Josh McClain – Panorama Framing
- Sunday, February 19, 7-9 PM: Opening Night Reception for “Angels in a Time of a Dictatorship” at Studio Grand
- Sunday, February 26, 9:00 AM – Noon – Splash Pad Park Volunteer Work Day
- Thursday, March 2: Grand Avenue First Thursdays
- Thursday, March 2: 6 – 8 PM: FREE Grand Avenue Tour begins at Panorama Framing. Space limited. Email email@example.com for reservations.
- Friday, March 3: Art Murmur Uptown District
- Saturday, March 25, Noon – 4 PM: The Plant Exchange, 4500 Lincoln Avenue