Hood Design Studio, Splash Pad Park

Splash Pad Park – January 2024

Splash Pad Park got far more attention than usual this past week thanks to a C. J. Hirschfield article in The Oaklandside that echoed some of the many concerns I’ve been sharing on this platform and elsewhere. Although the article was mainly focused on infrastructure issues that haven’t been resolved, C. J. also had some very good news to share. The Public Works Department has recently hired 17 new gardeners and 15 employees assigned to maintenance. She also shared some bad news regarding Walter Hood that I’d maintain is akin to the Raiders and A’s moving to Las Vegas — only far more consequential:

“Our city is broken,” said Hood, who added that he is actually considering leaving, after 30 years of living and working here. “This is what 20 years of neglect looks like.”

One immediate result of C. J.’s article was a flurry of additional Splash Pad News subscribers whom we welcome with open arms. Longer term, thanks to C.J., I’m hoping that we can, in fact, arrange an onsite meeting with the Public Works Department and its Director G. Harold Duffey in order to resolve some longstanding issues and simultaneously discuss what can be done in the future to better protect the park.

Before closing, I’d like to clarify a couple of minor points. I’m going to continue volunteering at the Park as long as I’m able and am figuring that, with Debra as our new editor and publisher, I’ll have more time to support Mary Jo Sutton and the Native Garden. There was also a sin of omission on my part, as in the course of being interviewed I focused largely on the ongoing problems but failed to mention that three years ago, through Council President Bas’s efforts, $125,000 was budgeted for repairs to the existing lighting as well as the addition of several more street lights. The project included the Names in Lights panels that hadn’t been lit in years. It also included all the uplighting on the Grand Avenue freeway pillars. Unfortunately, all but two of those were destroyed within a year and I personally am not advocating for their repair until we’re confident that the homeless encampment won’t return. I also want to add that City Gardener Christian Boyle is one of the city employees who “has been doing what he can to help the park,” which included stints on the city’s Dingo tractor when we re-landscaped  the fern beds and installed new DG walkways — not to mention his regular assigned duties.

And finally, C. J. noted that “A mandatory city audit of the (Measure Q) funds is currently being conducted.” That audit has since been released and the conclusion was that the funding specifically designated for park maintenance and homeless services “was underspent by $22 million over a 4-year period.” As mentioned in a segment of this month’s Odds & Ends column, the planters that the Public Works Department installed on Grand under the overpass are probably a good indication that efforts are underway to make up for lost time.

The Splash Pad’s Grand Crew volunteer team’s next work day, led by Mary Jo Sutton, will be Sunday, January 28  from 9 to noon. Gloves, tools, and kneeling pads are provided.



One response to “Splash Pad Park – January 2024”

  1. Carole Levenson Avatar
    Carole Levenson

    Thanks for all you do- it is the efforts of people like you that make Oakland special.
    Ken, you deserve a well-earned retirement from some of your many civic engagements,
    and I am happy that you are willing to continue with the rest.