January 24th, 2018, some 60+ people came out to the Lake Merritt Sailboat House on very rainy night to talk about the Rotary Nature Center and what it might become at an Oakland Parks, Recreation, and Youth Development (OPRYD) “Meet & Greet”.
OPRYD was represented by Nicholas Williams, Karis Griffin (along with others like Dianne Boyd, and some the remaining staff of the Center, Leanne and Michelle) . The audience represented a wide swath of neighbors and organizations working around the lake: eg The Rotary Club, The Lake Merritt Breakfast Club, Measure DD Committee, Lake Merritt Institute, Oakland Museum of California, our group, (Community for Lake Merritt), Alameda Beekeepers, Golden Gate Audubon, Oakland Beautification Council, Insect Sciences Museum of California, California Center for Natural History, and more There were scientists, illustrators, naturalists, interested neighbors, and a kid who got her momto come.
We’d been gathering our allies through our petition, social posts, and emails, to allied groups. C.J. Hirschfield of the Rotary Club, and Jennie Gerard of Weed Warriors and Lake Merritt Advocates in particular deserve much thanks for their efforts). A huge shoutout to our board member Katie Noonan for her efforts to get people interested and involved.
The meeting itself was simple, Nicholas and Karis opened and answered some questions about the closure and the base level plans. Jeri Martinez from Alameda Beekeepers talked about the state of the beehive from the Center which currently resides in Jeri’s backyard, waiting for the right time to return to their queendom at the Center. Cindy Margulis from Golden Gate Audubon gave an update on the heron colony and plans to attract them back to the lake. She also gave an impassioned coda as to why the Center is so important.
From there we talked a little about the process… next step for the larger community, a meeting Saturday March 17th, 2018 for people to propose projects for the Rotary Nature Center. In between that time, the city will be hiring a facilitator and creating a committee to come up with a strategic framework.
Nicholas said he want-s to honor the original vision of the Center, to protect the tradition with a 2018 spin. When pressed he assured the crowd that it will always be a Nature Center
OPRYD seems interested in taking guidance from the community in planning the future of the Center. We hope we will see continued communication from staff on how things are progressing
- There’s a lot of work to do.
- Lots of challenges remain.
- We have a community and staff who are ready and willing to be engaged.
- Stay tuned for more about the March 17th meeting and how to keep involved!
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