The city is part way through its process of planning the downtown area for the next 20 years.
The plan is a set of policy guidance and goals, looking at opportunities for development, but also trying to keep an eye on Equity, health living, homelessness, parks, and transportation.
Where it concerns us is how it might impact Lake Merritt… how much of the plan might help maintain our parks, what might be done about the impact of encampments on our parks (for instance, while the Plan does have a goal for moving unsheltered to housing, it does not have a goal for reducing encampments).
It also proposes some large scale changes on either side of the channel — the same place where there was fierce opposition to a new Oakland A’s ballpark. While the housing and mixed use proposed zoning wouldn’t have as much of an impact, the maximum heights would be set at 275′.
A new lead naturalist, Joe Moore, started at the Rotary Nature Center a few weeks ago (we were sad to see Angelina Manno go). He came from Discovery Center West and has jumped into the issues present at the center.
The bathrooms continue to be a vexing problem (stand around long enough and you’ll likely have someone ask about them). A new problem surfaced with the water ponds for the ducks… and Joe and another new staffer Terrence jumped into figuring out how to get them filled and cleaned with the help and advice.
The bees have also returned to the center — speaking of busy. Joe is intent on bringing some hands on activities and signage to program around them. And OMCA donated a table for a digital display which they will be helping with.
Katie Noonan organized an Adopt a Spot cleanup and about a dozen of us came out to help weed. We are looking at doing these on a more regular basis.
July 27th is the Billion Year walk, from 10am-4pm starting from the Center, which a deep time exploration of the lake and our earth.
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.