Several of us supporters of the Rotary Nature Center (Rotary Nature Center Friends and the Community for Lake Merritt) came to the Oakland City Council special session on budget proposals from the Mayor and City Council President.
There were concerns from many quarters about the Mayor’s budget: from illegal dumping, city workers, homeless advocates, fire safety in the hills, to specific concerns about funding for various non-profits, and it’s lack of faith in priorities laid out by the community at large.
Our specific concern (not to diminish any others — in particular a solution to our homeless crisis is intimately tied to parks) was where parks positions which were to be cut. This has an impact on not only our concerns at Lake Merritt, but Oakland wide — where parks would potentially be closed for lack of staff.
A support letter signed by 220 lake walkers in favor of restoring and improving parks funding was delivered by RNCF to council. They had tabled the last two weekends for this effort.
We believe that access to parks is good for the well being of all Oakland residents and visitors… and that without solid maintenance our investments in parks would be at severe risk, even those that are said to be jewels of Oakland.
We firmly believe that volunteers and the community at large play a role in maintaining our parks through things like Weed Warriors and Adopt a Spot and our own organization, but that this is not enough. We need the involvement and work of our excellent city employees, those of DPW and OPRY&D. We need them for a commitment to sustain our parks. The finance office indicated they are particularly concerned about Park’s funding.
Please write the mayor and your city council member and encourage that these positions not be cut and to work for sustainable parks.
Karis Griffin announced a grand opening celebration for the Rotary Nature Center this coming February 16th, 2019. A Saturday from 1-3:30pm.
Join us – RSVP here on Facebook to let us know you are coming. (If you don’t do Facebook — which I can understand — please put it in your calendar! )
Over the past year, the city has been working to clean the facility up — with the guidance of Karis and her “core team” Alan Briskin, C.J. Hirschfield, Jennie Gerard, and James Robinson. If you’ve been by the building recently, you’ll notice it has a fresh coat of paint. On the inside, they’ve also repainted, and are laying out new floors. They are also building an interior restroom, and a door out to the butterfly garden, among other things.
Community for Lake Merritt has been biding its time, and this past December our board met with the Core group (plus Nicholas Williams the head of OPRYD, and Ken Lupoff head of OPF), to discuss how our group help the Rotary Nature Center once it has opened.
We at Community for Lake Merritt are excited that the Nature Center will be soon open again and are committed to helping any way we can to help its success — as well as the programs announced in 2018. We are hoping to also help facilitate the involvement of a much larger community.
There’s still plenty of things to be done, and open questions, but it’s very exciting to be at the stage where the Nature Center will soon be open and functioning again.
We are looking at participating in Oakland’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) June meetings.
The meetings are meant for gathering feedback on priorities and process: how to evaluate what projects should go forward. It’s a little unclear how the meetings are meant to work, and what feedback they are asking for. It does not seem like they want to hear about individual projects per se.
They are also seeking community input through an online survey for those who can’t attend. It is a short <5 minute survey.
Events are June 20th (eve) and on two Saturdays June 23 and 30th.