Splash Pad News – May 2020

Editor’s Note: We are absolutely delighted this month to be sharing content submitted by eight different individuals writing from their own unique perspectives. Most relate directly to the impact and responses to the Corona Virus pandemic. Our lead story, however,  is a proposal for a food court at the corner of Lakeshore and MacArthur in the vacant parcel that, so far, has remained empty due to the extremely high costs involved in removing contaminated soil – not to mention limitations imposed by what is very likely a high water table. Gehry Oatey’s solution: a community-friendly complex constructed from recycled shipping containers installed on grade with minimal soil disturbance.

REFUEL Food Court – 3026 Lakeshore
by Gehry Oatey

I founded Courtney’s Corners in 2019 as a mechanism to improve public health, encourage and promote small business, and provide ecological, sustainable urban design solutions. We are working on a proposed “REFUEL Food Court” that will repair and reuse the long vacant gas station site on the corner of Lakeshore and MacArthur.

In a time where we are moving away from fossil fuels, the need to mitigate climate change by design is imperative. REFUEL will create a family-friendly, health-conscious space while allowing the Oakland Community to repair human damage that has been done over a period of many years. Oakland REFUEL will highlight emerging food vendors from a diverse range of food genres and provide a menu in this mixed-use space. Opening Summer 2021!


On Seniors and Social Isolation
by Joanne Devereaux

I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, the home of Mr. Rogers, and still remember seeing him all over town. His brand of “niceness” seemed to be expected of us, and during the winter months my parents always would send us out to shovel snow, making sure we helped our old neighbors first. All these years later, I feel like this sheltering in place is a giant snowstorm with lots of seniors needing assistance and suffering social isolation.

It can sneak up on people during this extended period of sheltering in place, so it is important to pay special attention to seniors living alone. In my work as an advisor and consultant to the elderly and their families, I know how easily life can get tough and what a large impact social isolation has on seniors’ overall health and well-being. At this difficult time, even basic activities are requiring extra patience and planning, which can be hard to handle. 


Live From Haddon Hill
by David Gans


I’m a musician and radio producer, and I usually spend a quarter to a third of my life on tour. As I write this in mid-April, I am missing a two-week tour of Ohio and New York State that I had been anticipating with great warmth and excitement. I missed a weekend music festival in Ventura earlier in the month, too, and every week a few more slices of my future get rolled back up and put away. I sure hope to get back out there soon, because I miss playing for live audiences!

I am playing music every day. My home studio is now the scene of a daily livestream. I’ve done an hour-long set every afternoon since April 4, and I intend to continue playing every day for the foreseeable future. It keeps my music sharp, and it’s giving me an opportunity to review a lifetime of favorite songs as I approach the 50th anniversary of my first paying gig (June 1970 at Frontier Village in San Jose). By the time you read this, I will have played more than two dozen sets, featuring more than 125 different songs – and I have a pretty long list of songs I haven’t gotten to yet.


Sheltering in Place Diary
by Sheila McCormick


My husband, Paul, and I are both retired. We don’t face the problems others are having during this crisis, so it seems strange to write about our experiences – but  Ken Katz asked for contributions, so here goes. Although I can’t browse in thrift stores, or go to museums, both things I enjoy, our lives aren’t otherwise that much changed. I already cooked a fair bit, watched 1-2 hours of TV in the evening, and my editing for eLIFE, a science journal, and the Twitter feed for The Plant Journal continue. I have to say that I am overwhelmed with “The 79 movies you can watch now on Netflix,” “The 36 best things to watch on Amazon,” “Tour these National Parks virtually,” etc.  The magazines still keep stacking up unread. In theory there should be more time for such things, but it seems not!

We like to volunteer and things sure have changed there. I am on the board of the Friends of the Oakland Library and do a lot of social media for them. I typically went to The Bookmark Bookstore three to four times a week to photograph books for posting on Instagram and/or Facebook  and to collect books that warranted price checks for potential Amazon listings, etc. 


“If you toast a friend across the street and there’s no clink, you can still hear it.”
by Keila Diehl

No matter how close to home you’ve stayed while sheltering in place, every so often your mood has likely been lightened, your heart quickened, by something you have seen or heard around you. It could have been a volunteer delivering essential groceries (including those Hershey’s bars with almonds that you love to bake with, or – I’m not making this up – the celery my neighbor really likes to put in her oatmeal). It could have been the sounds of a multi-generational family Easter egg hunt hopping over your backyard fence. Maybe it has been watching your daughter, wrenched out of her first semester at college, delighting in planting and nurturing a garden. Or was it simply the imagined clink of your beer bottle with the wine glass of your neighbor sitting in a camp chair yonder in his driveway?


Thinking Long-Term
by Ken Katz

Allegedly, opposites attract. In which case, my marriage to Ann Botzman is a textbook example. I won’t go into details. Let it suffice to say that sometimes, her yin is my yang but at other times, it isn’t. Despite those differences, although our marriage has thus far survived fifty-one years, as the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded and as we continue to shelter in place, this may prove to be the ultimate test of that relationship.

By way of explanation, I should admit that, as an adult, I’ve always been a bit germaphobic but, as I’ve learned more and more about the horrific nature of this disease, those inclinations have ramped up exponentially. The last time I set foot inside a place of business was March 16, when I bought a case of beer from Buckingham Wine and Spirits. When that ran out three weeks later, I had another case delivered to our door.


Because Our Local Food System is Essential
by Andy Naja-Riese

Dear Grand Lake Farmers Market Supporters:

Our markets have weathered wildfires and power outages in the past year and now, the COVID-19 crisis. Now, in this pandemic, when having access to quality food is critical, we are, as-always on the frontline of feeding our communities. Farmers markets are keeping people nourished and farmers in business.

We, at the Agricultural Institute of Marin (AIM) are literally working around the clock to ensure that our seven certified farmers markets, including the Grand Lake Farmers Market, remain open and in total compliance with all COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. Through our lobbying efforts, we convinced the state to designate farmer’s markets as an essential business in these troubled times. Because our local food system is essential.


May Inspiration During COVID-19 Times
by Kira Pascoe

In the midst of the COVID-19 public health emergency, it is an understatement to say that increasingly difficult financial challenges continue to mount for small businesses. However, the inspiration so many of our merchants continue to provide with their monumental efforts to give back, rally community, and be community models is simply astounding. Kudos to these efforts and more:

A huge thanks to Bill Fanning of BF Communications for founding Lakeshore Helping Health Care, which works as follows:

Show our appreciation for the health care workers risking their own safety to protect ours. It’s also a way to generate business for our neighborhood restaurants to help keep their doors open and their employees working.


How Grand Avenue Businesses Are Coping With the COVID-19 Virus
by Ken Katz

March 30 at 8:50 pm

Grand Avenue businesses have been taking different approaches to weathering the COVID-19 viral storm. The overall trend, however, is for individual businesses to adapt as much as possible by gradually adding more customer options, including increased hours, pickup and delivery (sometimes by multiple services), gift cards, online retail sales, and so forth. To some extent, they’re hindered by a lack of coordinated efforts, such as those on Lakeshore Avenue that are provided by Kira Pascoe. Nonetheless, there are multiple success stories on Grand as well.

The single best example is Walden Pond Books. In his most recent email update, Manager Paul Curatolo noted that they had just upped the ante and are now offering curbside pickup 7 DAYS A WEEK.



In order to help locally owned neighborhood businesses survive this ongoing crisis, the Lakeshore Business Improvement District and the Splash Pad News  built  a comprehensive list of all the businesses in the Grand Lake District that are open and/or soliciting assistance in the form of gift cards or fundraising campaigns

The abbreviated Cliff Notes spreadsheet version that Kira Pascoe created and maintains is at THIS LINK.
The one with all the nitty-gritty details is HERE

Both lists are updated regularly. For corrections and/or additions please email:
info@splashpad.org or kira@lakeshoreavenue.com.

Please follow us on social media:
Lakeshore BID Facebook; Splash Pad Facebook; Lakeshore BID Instagram.

Splash Pad Park

The shrub pictured in the center of the above gallery is what Mary Jo Sutton and Diane Hicks planted a couple of weeks ago in the Dogwood bed behind the Splash Pad fountain. It’s a California Native Garrya elliptica or what’s commonly known as a Silk Tassel Bush. The one they planted was in a 1 gallon pot and only a tiny fraction of this one’s size. With a little bit of luck and a lot of TLC, in ten to fifteen years it will put on a spectacular show when in bloom each year.

It was purchased and installed at the request of AIM CEO, Andy Naja-Riese who wanted to do something to honor the passing of Gabriel Hieb, the long-time Protea flower vendor at the Grand Lake Market. In an ironic twist, according to an April 24 article in the San Francisco Chronicle, medical authorities were exploring the possibility that his passing in early December due to pneumonia may have been related to the COVID 19 virus. Whether that’s the case or not, it wouldn’t hurt to think of it as a tribute to all those who are suffering untimely deaths.

Although, the monthly volunteer work days have been very low key. Mary Jo and Diane and Claire Winger have been out weeding and pruning fairly frequently on week days. Next time you’re in the park, check out all the flowers in bloom and, if you see someone weeding, please consider thanking them but only from a very safe distance please.

Grand Lake Farmers Market

The Grand Lake Farmers Market Bounty Boxes have proven very popular – particularly since the roll-out has been incredibly smooth and the curbside pickup totally seamless. There are a couple of new twists – the most important being the introduction of a 50% discount (thanks to a grant from the Bank of America)  for EBT card-holders who can order online but do need to swipe their cards on arrival. In addition, they’ve eliminated the larger box (that’s designed to serve 3-4 people) but you can still order a second box if need be. The Bounty Box order form is on THIS LINK.

Congratulations and thanks to all the AIM staff members who are helping keep the market viable particularly Grand Lake Market Manager, Dan Foster who was chiefly responsible for maximizing space while minimizing congestion; to Will Finnie, AIM’s Volunteer Coordinator who has taken the lead for distribution of the Bounty Boxes; and to Shayla Sosa who built the website and is processing orders and payments. A big shout-out as well to Ruth Stroup for her Farmers Insurance, Farmers Market Sponsorship – which was originally intended to fund the market’s Chef Demo program.  Under the circumstances, she gladly agreed to help underwrite  additional costs instead.

Due to the current COVID-19 crisis, the Grand Lake Farmers Market needs help with social distance monitoring. They are looking for volunteers to be present at the market from 9 – 2 on Saturdays during which they will be asked to walk the market while helping maintain the required six-feet social distancing.

Primary tasks will include:

* Chalking Xs 6 ft. apart anywhere lines form.
* Verbally enforcing social distance requirements
* Informing the Market Manager of lines or clusters or any other unsafe situations requiring immediate attention.

If you’re interested in volunteering or want more info, please phone Agricultural Institute of Marin Volunteer Coordinator Will Finney at 415 472-6100





11 responses to “Splash Pad News – May 2020”

  1. Larry Robbin Avatar
    Larry Robbin

    Thanks so much Ken for all that you do for the neighborhood! You are the glue, cheerleader, story teller and I really appreciate you!

  2. Love reading the articles about how everyone is doing during this pandemic. We all cope in our own ways. Looking forward to the days when we’re all walking along the lake and the streets together, supporting our local businesses and each other.

    Paul, are you still making masks? They are beautiful!

  3. Sandy Sher Avatar
    Sandy Sher

    Ken, a great job with this SPN issue. What else would we expect? It’s current, varied, and intriguing. Hey, I sometimes put tofu in my oatmeal. Maybe next time I’ll try tofu and celery! Kudos to all who participated, and for people and businesses hanging in there. My very favorite element?–the photo of David Gan’s cats, Oli and Ringo, entwined . Made me laugh out loud.

    1. Ken Katz Avatar
      Ken Katz

      Sandy, Thanks for all the nice words and I’m especially glad you acknowledged all the good talented people who contributed to this month’s News. This was one of my favorite of all time.

  4. Douglas Chin Avatar
    Douglas Chin

    Ken, as always a wonderful newsletter, but these essays and updates ( new food court in former gas station space!) are especially heartening!
    Love the vintage photo of you and Ann!!

  5. I didn’t know that celery in oatmeal was a thing ! Thanks for keeping SPN lively and up to date

  6. Mittie Igo Avatar
    Mittie Igo

    Ken, I love the picture of you and Ann.
    Sending hugs


    From the article about Refuel
    “In a time where we are moving away from fossil fuels, the need to mitigate climate change by…”
    a new restaurant.

    That’ll fix it.

  8. We love keeping up with the old neighborhood with the splash pad news. Thanks, Ken.

    1. Ken Katz Avatar
      Ken Katz

      We miss you and Michelle.How are things in Tinseltown?

  9. Karen Hunt Avatar
    Karen Hunt

    Whatever would we do without you, Ken? Thank you for the much-needed information and the inspiration from the essayists. Can’t believe it is May. March and April are a blur. Stay safe.