Spring 2023 News

Saturday June 10th / 4th Annual California Indian Arts & Culture Festival

Mark your calendars – this unique festival brings together artists from tribes all over Northern California to share handcrafted art, demonstrations of basketweaving and boatbuilding, as well as dance and cultural activities that honor their community. It takes place in the area near McGee, and lasts from 11am – 5pm. Please plan on stopping by the FOOP table to pay your annual $5 dues (cash preferred). We hope to have t-shirts available for purchase.


Bonita Renovation Underway

The renovation of the Milvia-Bonita block of Ohlone Park is underway! The cylone fences went up and work began on March 1, 2023. The project is expected to be completed in about 6 months, in time for Indigenous People’s Day on October 9, 2023. It is exciting to see all the planning and community input translating into a renewed, upgraded, and multi-generational space in Ohlone Park.  As a reminder of what the finished product will look like, a schematic from the City of Berkeley that demonstrates the plan is below.      

      One of the most noteworthy aspects of the renovations will be the addition of a native plant garden around the beautiful Ohlone Mural, which will be called the Ohlone Mural Art Garden.  Friends of Ohlone Park (FOOP) agreed to provide volunteers to help plant and maintain this garden.  The plans for the garden are already in place, but the planting and related activities are not expected to begin until sometime early in the Fall.

       We need your help!  We need volunteers!  While the work is months in the future, we’d like to establish a group of committed volunteers now so that we are ready to go once it’s time for the planting to begin.  If you are interested, please contact FOOP at berkeleyfoop@gmail.com.

A Dog Park Founder

In the dog park where I have been coming for over 5 years, I met a gentleman whose dog’s name, Kona, I knew, but not his. Over time, I learned that this wiry gentleman with a broad smile and a Kango cap over his ponytail was Tom Nigman and that he was a founding member of the dog park. Today, Tom is the last surviving founder.

Ohlone Dog Park is the oldest dog park in the nation and perhaps the world. It was established on land cleared of houses to build an underground tunnel for BART. In 1979, Tom and other local residents fought to have the area set aside as a park for dogs. In 1983, the City recognized the ODP officially.

Tom Nigman has amazing stories about his life and his history as part of the fabric of our community. If you see a wiry gentleman with a broad smile and a dog named Kona, thank him for his foresight in helping to create the original dog park.

—    John Leffingwell

Past Projects


 GO here for a photo gallery of our memorable Ohlone Park 50th Anniversary celebration.

• • •

Ohlone mural creation story
The creation story panel of the Ohlone Mural. The world they created was made on Mount Diablo by Coyote, Eagle and Hummingbird.

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.