Neighborhood Welcome Sound Wall

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City of Berkeley Sound Wall
Corp yard soundwall construction
is underway on Bancroft
Neighborhood welcome sound wall
Will Harper,  Berkeley Voice, September 21, 1995

It took eight years, countless hours of lobbying and $145,000, but residents in the West Berkeley neighborhood surrounding the city's corporation yard are finally getting a soundwall to reduce the noise from the site.

"After eight-and-a-half years of pretending, avoiding, stalling, foot dragging, equivocating., the city has started work on the corporation yard soundwall," neighbor Toni Horodysky told the City Council recently. "Well, finally it's going to happen and we're excited," she said.

Construction of the $145,000 concrete-block soundwall began early this month and is expected to be finished by the end of November. Neighbors consulted with city architects on the design of the wall, which will include a vine covering to make it blend in better with the surrounding residential area.

"This is so exciting," said Public Works Director Vicki Elmer.

"It's something the community has wanted since 1987 and it finally has come to fruition.
I think you can really thank the neighbors for their persistence."

The 4.9-acre corporation yard on 1325 Bancroft Way serves as a maintenance and fueling station for the city's fleet of 500 trucks, specialized construction equipment and cars.

The yard has been at its current Site since 1916 and a residential neighborhood gradually grew around it. With the residential zoning of the area the corporation yard is the largest non-conforming land use in the City of Berkeley.

According to neighbors, in 1987 the city applied for a use permit to make changes in the yard such as demolishing a paint storage building. To the surprise of many neighbors one of the changes made was moving the gas station from the middle of the site to within 100 feet of nearby homes.

drawing of corporation yard sound wall 1989
The sound wall as proposed by the City of Berkeley in 1988

The city promised to mitigate the impacts of the changes by constructing a soundwall, neighbors say. According to Elmer, the city had even budgeted $80,000 to build the wall in the '80s. But plans to build the wall were later abandoned after Michael Brown took over as city manager in 1989.

In protest some neighbors hung signs saying, "Keep the promise, build the wall." John Thomas, who lives across the street from the yard, credited Vicki Elmer for making the soundwall a reality. Elmer took over as public works director in 1993.

Corporation
Yard Wall
Bancroft Street (1995)

banner on house "Keep the Promise Build the Wall"  
Banner draped West Berkeley corporation yard area residence...
"KEEP THE PROMISE BUILD THE WALL"

It took eight years, countless hours of lobbying and $145,000, but residents in the West Berkeley neighborhood surrounding the city's corporation yard are finally getting a soundwall to reduce the noise from the site... Construction of the $145,000 concrete-block soundwall began early this month and is expected to be finished by the end of November. Neighbors consulted with city architects on the design of the wall, which will include a vine covering to make it blend in better with the surrounding residential area. Excerpt from Neighborhood welcome sound wall, Will Harper,  Berkeley Voice, September 21, 1995

corp yard wall corp yard wall

"Mending Wall" by Robert Frost (1914)
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down
(Perhaps Mr. Frost never had the opportunity to live next to a public works facility like Berkeley's corporation yard, located in a residential area, R2. In this particular case "Good (soundwalls) fences make good neighbors"... BC )

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