Ohlone Park Supports the Community During the Pandemic
This past year, Ohlone Park experienced an explosion of use as schools closed and everyone stayed close to home. Outdoor yoga and aikido classes, distanced picnics, fitness workouts, and just individuals and families enjoying the open space and fresh air showed us how vital this 6 block stretch of park can be.
Friends of Ohlone Park continues to be a conduit between the Community and the various City agencies to help address problems and plan improvements for the Park. Current projects include:
Re-Design of the Bonita/ Milvia Block
Public Comments on this project can be submitted up to April 9, 2021. After that the Parks Dept will announce a second zoom meeting where the consultant (BASE) will present a design based on necessary code and equipment safety upgrades, community input, and budget realities.
Lighting Improvements throughout the Park
Ohlone Park should provide a welcoming, safe place for people to stroll in the evening, even after dark. However, much of the lighting along the Hearst corridor is placed above the tree canopy, and there are gaps that make the path feel unsafe. We have been actively advocating for a continuous, lit pathway through the park, all the way from Milvia at the East end to Sacramento at the West, and including illumination of the bike path on Hearst Ave. At long last this project has been given the green light by the Parks Dept and City Council as part of the T1 Bond Measure. We look forward to a robust and satisfying community process to bring light to the park that is energy efficient and strategic in its location.
Relocating the entrance to the “Middle” soccer field near California Street
The current entrance, at the north end, requires people to step over a cement culvert. This makes it inaccessible and dangerous for many people. Neighbors have requested closing this narrow entrance off and creating a new one about 30 feet away – in the middle of the block. This will allow for a wider and level opening to the field, and also deter people from crossing Hearst in the middle of the block
Expansion of the Pollinator Garden at Sacramento Street
As part of the Sacramento Complete Streets program, the intersection of Delaware and Sacramento is getting completely re-worked. Sacramento street will be narrowed for about 60ft to create a safer crossing for pedestrians and bikes. This additional space will enable an expansion of the Pollinator Garden currently managed by Transition Berkeley, a group dedicated creating native plant communities with a special focus on the importance of bees. FOOP is supporting Transition Berkeley’s request for irrigation in this location – which will be used minimally to establish plants and provide them with some water during the driest months of the year.
Helping Facilitate Public Discussions about a Permanent Bathroom
There is no current timeline for community meetings to discuss the location and design of a permanent bathroom in Ohlone Park, but it IS likely that funding will be made available this year to begin the process. And it is also likely that it will be located somewhere between McGee and California Streets, between a popular playground and soccer field used by young teams.
Friends of Ohlone Park’s 50th Anniversary celebration was a success!
Go here for Mayor Jesse Arreguin’s Speech June 1, 2019 at the Rededication of the Ohlone Mural
GO here for a photo gallery of our memorable Ohlone Park 50th Anniversary celebration.
For more photos of the celebration see the beautiful photography of Pete Rosos at Berkeleyside’s coverage.
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Ohlone Park, a ribbon of open space that runs through the busy edge of central Berkeley along Hearst Avenue from Milvia at the East end to Sacramento Street at the West, unites one of the City’s oldest neighborhoods near the downtown. Created in the late 1960’s as a result of the BART tunnel which runs below it, the park today includes four children’s playgrounds, a nationally recognized dog park, a four-sided mural commemorating the Ohlone legacy, a basketball and volleyball court, softball and soccer fields, a community garden, and numerous open spaces valued by families, athletes, residents and nearby workers looking for a quiet space to eat lunch.
The Park’s length connects the UC Campus to the North Berkeley BART Station, and it is a vital link between the north/south Milvia bike route, soon to become a cycle track, and the long-established Ohlone Greenway path running north to El Cerrito. Pedestrians and cyclists commute via the park throughout the day and night.
As the population in downtown Berkeley increases, Ohlone Park will carry an increasing burden. It requires a comprehensive well thought-out vision to meet the needs of its community and the City.
Friends of Ohlone Park has been established to preserve, protect and enhance the functionality of the Park in all its diverse uses and to recognize and honor the Ohlone people for whom it is named. For a year we have been meeting and consulting with our neighbors to evaluate current needs and challenges.
In 2016 we joined Berkeley Partners for Parks and a member of the FOOP Coordinating Team (CT) sits on the Board of BPFP.
In 2016 we completed a weeklong survey of trash containers to aid the city in assessing the needs for garbage removal. And, to provide safety for nighttime transit through the park, we completed a whole park survey of lighting to provide the city with information on malfunctioning lighting and to note dark areas that could introduce safety concerns.
We regularly maintain communication with the Parks Department and the Parks and Waterfront Commission regarding improvements to the park, like the upcoming 2019 rehab of the Basketball Court.
More recently, we conducted a very successful online survey of the residents near the park to determine attitudes and suggestions regarding the establishment of a permanent restroom for the park. City officials have been impressed with the response from our survey that demonstrates that the neighbors of Ohlone Park are concerned about the improvements to Ohlone Park.
In its short history, FOOP has demonstrated to the City that we are a citizens’ organization that needs to be included in all future plans for Ohlone Park.