News

March, 2018

Update on recent activities at Ohlone Park and current projects.

Winter 2018 Ohlone Park Project Day

On Saturday, March 10th, Friends of Ohlone Park (FOOP) collaborated with Cal students who volunteered for Berkeley Projects Day. This is a day that brings together students and residents to work on infrastructure improvements throughout the City. Three locations in Ohlone Park received much needed help: the Dog Park, the Community Garden, and the area near the playing field at California Street.

FOOP also collaborated with Transitions Berkeley to spruce up the Pollinator (Native Plant) Garden on Sacramento. Dozens of students and researchers helped us pull weeds, remove a huge quantity of ivy, and spread mulch in specific areas.
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A reminder: FOOP is organized to improve and maintain Ohlone Park. FOOP over the past few years of its existence has been recognized by City officials as a dedicated organization that effectively advocates for park improvements. We wish to continue through 2018 to work with the city to improve the lighting in the park and to be a conduit for neighborhood input on various projects that the Parks Department would like to undertake in the near future, like the basketball court resurfacing and permanent restrooms. We also promote plantings along where the park borders the residences on Delaware. We have also been in touch with the cyclist community regarding safe traffic routes in and around the park.

FOOP’s current in-process projects: A perimeter garden around the Ohlone Mural at the east end of the park. (This would consist of native plants, a pebble and rock border and sculpture.); An expansion of a play area for small children; An outdoor area for Seniors use.

Soon (ish), after the late rains have ceased, FOOP will announce a community-wide meeting/picnic to update neighbors on Ohlone Park matters. Please watch your mailbox for that. We will be asking for small financial contributions (membership dues) at that time to assist FOOP’s work.

Friends of Ohlone Park – Coordinating Team (FOOP/CT)
March 23, 2018

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December, 2017

Dear neighbors and Friends of Ohlone Park,

Below is an update on several issues that members of FOOP have been working on.  The first item is an update on the Ohlone Basketball Court Renovation and the question of a permanent restroom.  (In short, the City is proceeding with a basketball court renovation. This project will not include a public restroom, which will instead be considered as part of a citywide assessment of the need for public restrooms.)

The second section is a report from Steve Most about a recent meeting with Councilmember Kate Harrison about Ohlone Park. This serves as an update on a number of projects.

The next FOOP meeting has not be scheduled at this time.

For questions or to become involved, please contact us at Berkeleyfoop@gmail.com.

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Ohlone Basketball Court renovation and Ohlone Park Permanent Restroom Update:  Please see the following note  (dated 11/8/17) from Evelyn Chan, P.E. (510-981-6430) the City of Berkeley project engineer for the basketball court renovation. Evelyn invites neighbors to contact her directly with questions or concerns at 510-981-6430 or Echan@cityofberkeley.info:

 Hi Beth,

Nice speaking with you.  To follow up with your email below and to confirm from our conversation, the construction of a permanent restroom at Ohlone Park is not currently funded.

I went back and reviewed the Council Meeting and minutes, and in the final adoption of the T1 projects, the restroom at Ohlone Park was ultimately not included.  However, there was a consideration for the Ohlone Park restroom to be added if funding became available, or to add to the priority for Phase 2, but to also take this into consideration with the Citywide Restrooms Needs Assessment study that IS included in Phase 1 of T1.

I spoke to Scott about how we could include some conceptual planning input (where and what, regarding this potential restroom) during a neighborhood meeting that we are already planning to have as part of our Ohlone Park Basketball Courts project.  The intent is that we can then take the input received, and deliver that information to the team that will oversee the Citywide Restroom Needs Assessment project.  (FYI – The restroom project team has not been formed yet, as of today.)  The restroom assessment project will likely have their own public meetings as well, so we’ll work with you to get your voices and input heard in that process.

The timeline currently looks like:

July 1, 2018 (Start of FY2019):  Funding becomes available for Ohlone Park Basketball project.  This funds the remaining design efforts and gets the project to Construction.

Fall 2018:  Public Meeting to be scheduled for the Basketball project.  We will take input on conceptual design of restroom.  We will deliver that initial input to the team that will oversee the citywide restrooms analysis project.

Our webpage describes the project too simply as “Ohlone Park Basketball Court, Lighting Construction and Restroom Design”.   You may want to consider the Construction part of the Basketball Court and the Design part of the restroom as separate efforts.  Let me see how I can re-word that project description to be a little more accurate to our situation.

As always, feel free to contact me if I can assist with any additional information or clarification.

Thank you,
Evelyn

Evelyn Chan, P.E.

CITY OF BERKELEY

1947 Center Street, 4th Floor; Berkeley, CA 94704

  1. (510) 981-6430 F. (510) 981-6390

Please contact Evelyn Chan for additional information or clarification.

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Report from meeting with Councilmember Harrison (12/12/17):

On December 12, FOOP coordinating team members Miranda Ewell and Stephen Most met with city councilwoman Kate Harrison and her staff member Tara Sreekrishnan.

KH said that the North Berkeley Senior Center will close in November, ’18. It needs a seismic retrofit in order to serve as an emergency center for the City. Regarding NBSC programs, those will probably move to the SBSC.

SM & ME informed KH about FOOP’s strategic plan to improve Ohlone Park. The big picture is that more and more people will use this park as more housing goes up in and near downtown; that the park is a transportation corridor for bicyclists and pedestrians, connecting the campus & downtown & residential area with N Berkeley BART; and that FOOP wants the park to be actively used in ways that are safe, enjoyable and welcome to its neighbors.

Regarding the transportation corridor, KH asked for a copy of the map FOOP has made that show the need for better lighting along and within Ohlone Park. She is interested in working with Linda Maio on placing a budget item before City Council next June to pay for lighting in the park as a public safety measure.

ME spoke about having a parcourse for seniors east of NBSC, a project that would have to wait until the renovation ends. She also recommended enlarging the totlot.

SM told KH that FOOP has applied to the Chancellors Community Partnership Fund for a grant to place a border of stone, artworks and indigenous plants around the Ohlone Mural. This was the vision of the artist Jean LaMarr who painted the mural and who would design its border.  ME noted that Parks gardeners are unable to cut grass mechanically along Ohlone Dog Park fences and recommended a border of stones and indigenous plants to replace the grass there. A similar border could run along private fences adjacent to the park.

FOOP’s plan includes growing roses on some of those private fences. That would make the northern edge of the park more beautiful and less inviting to those who would camp and use drugs there.

ME informed KH that FOOP is working with Bike East Bay to work out details of the Hearst bike corridor.

As the meeting concluded, KH said she’d like FOOP members to meet her Parks Commissioner, Erin Diehm.

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Friends of Ohlone Park (FOOP)

General Membership Meeting Notes

September 23, 2017

  1. Introductions
  2. Proposed Permanent restroom: FOOP presented slides outlining the topic, showing existing conditions and examples of different types of park restrooms.  The goal of this meeting was to discuss the issue and provide a Statement of Guidance to the City to proactively represent neighbors’ concerns and requests.

The last communication from the City indicated the following:

– If constructed, it would be done concurrently with the planned renovation of the basketball court, which is funded for 2019.

– The City is “staffing up” to handle the plethora of new projects planned due to new bond funding.

– The City won’t be ready to present potential designs to the community until January, 2018.

We discussed ideas for locations and types of bathrooms, as well as mitigations that we could request as part of the project, including improved lighting, streamlined landscaping, better fencing at nearby residences, hours of operation, and a designated parking spot for maintenance and law enforcement vehicles in the area. There was no quorum present at the meeting to write a statement, and as a next step we agreed that we need more concrete information from City representatives to inform our recommendations.

Next step: FOOP will contact City Officials to get more concrete information on range of options they could consider for the restroom.

3. Fertilizer Use in Ohlone Park:  Concerns about a recent change in the type of fertilizer being used on the grass in the park from a composted grass, Bay-friendly technique, to synthetic fertilizers.  Synthetic fertilizers are carcinogenic and synthetic fertilizers can contribute to greenhouse gas production.

Next step: FOOP wrote a personal email to the relevant City official asking for more detailed information on this issue.

4. Review of membership requirements from the FOOP By-laws:  Voting members must have attended at least 2 meetings in the last year (can vote on 2nd meeting within 12 months), and to have paid $5 dues in current calendar year.  (For more detail, see the By-laws at the FOOP website).  Attendees were encouraged to pay the membership fee.

  1. Outstanding items not addressed due to time constraints and limited attendance:

– Update on the Native plant garden at the Ohlone Mural near Bonita St.

– Discussion of idea for a Memorial Bench in Honor of Martha Nicoloff.

– Plans for a Park clean-up and social event

– FOOP has a website! http://ohlone.transbay.net/ Please consult our website for regular updates and please share our url with neighbors.

 

 

 

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Police warn about ‘potential threat’ to kids after tot lot incidents

by Emilie Raguso – – -Sept. 18, 2017

Berkeley police have asked the community to be on the lookout for a man linked to several bizarre run-ins with local children earlier this year.

Police identified that man as William Nicholas Turner, who authorities previously said tried to give three kids, including a 1-year-old baby, a mystery drink at North Berkeley’s Ohlone Park in June. Turner was charged with annoying or harassing a child in that case. When police first spoke with him, they “became immediately concerned with his unnatural focus on children,” said BPD on Monday. “He definitely fixated on younger kids,” the mother of the baby told Berkeleyside in an exclusive interview earlier this year.

“The Berkeley Police Department shares this information in the hopes that families who visit our parks will remain vigilant for William Turner or any other person who may pose a threat to our community,” said BPD in a prepared statement Monday afternoon. Police said they put out the alert following Turner’s release to warn the public about the “potential threat to children.”

In court papers, Berkeley Police Officer Jesse Grant documented several incidents involving 36-year-old Turner that raised community concerns. In May, a witness said Turner removed nearly all his clothes in front of a preschool before police were called to take him for a psychological evaluation. Several weeks later, there was the incident at the Ohlone Park tot lot where Turner reportedly tried to convince several children to drink from a bottle he claimed held water and honey. After speaking with police, he was placed on an emergency psychiatric detention and was later taken to jail.

Then, at the end of June, Grant said in court documents that Turner “stripped down to black underwear” and got on a playground swing at Ohlone Park after approaching children there and confessing to their mother that he had been sent to prison and “wrongfully accused for child molestation.”

According to court records online, Turner was found guilty Aug. 16 of one misdemeanor charge of engaging in lewd conduct after entering a plea of no contest. He was sentenced to three years of probation, which includes a “stay away order” from all parks and schools in Alameda County.

After Turner’s arrest, the city worked to post signage around town in numerous tot lots to make it clear that adults without children are not allowed.

Turner was most recently arrested in Berkeley on Sept. 1. He was charged with resisting arrest and disobeying a court order, according to records online. Both are misdemeanors. Minimal detail was available about what took place during that incident. The BPD log indicates it was related to a disturbance — disorderly conduct — reported at Center and Oxford streets at 4:45 a.m. BPD described the location as “near Berkeley High School, and Berkeley City College.”

That case appears to have been dismissed Sept. 8, and Turner is no longer in custody.