Ohlone Park Supports the Community During the Pandemic
Since the pandemic began, 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 six block stretch of urban greenspace is.
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:
Renovation of the Bonita/ Milvia Block
The design process has been completely successfully! Neighbors can anticipate work beginning sometime in 2022.
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.
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 has been 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. This location will finally get some drip irrigation as well, allowing it to sustain young plants throughout 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.