From the beginning, the idea of converting an industrial property in the middle of our manufacturing district to recreational fields and a skate park was pure folly. Like the lie that requires another to cover up its dishonesty, the planning and rezoning of the park complex have led to a series of outrageous decisions, and of course, more of our tax dollars being spent to “fix” a multitude of mistakes. It should surprise no one that the consequences of such an extreme shift in the area’s zoning are never-ending. The latest round of bad news from the skate complex is a request for its complete replacement, despite being only five years old. The city’s staff, whose bungling has squandered nearly a million local tax dollars, is now proposing a skate park bond for two million more.
Undoubtedly, none of the city’s so-called professional staff or council who signed off on the ill-fated sports complex ever thought their decisions would come back to bite them. Had this project been a private construction, many on the planning team would have been fired. From its opening days in 2003 when the complex was abruptly closed because of toxic groundwater seepage, Harrison skate park has been a gnarly ride for Berkeley. Now it appears to be in an irreversible backslide and headed for a wipeout.
Make It Work at Any Cost
The first cracks in the skate park project were not seen in the concrete bowls, but in the planning process itself. This breakdown started a decade ago when Berkeley began negotiating with the University of California for the contaminated property at Fourth and Harrison Streets. It was then that the city began meeting privately with Berkeley resident, Doug Fielding, and a former city council member, Fred Collignon, who is also an associate professor of city and regional planning at Cal.
Excerpt from Berkeley’s Skate Park: Backslide on the Chrome-6 L A Wood, May 1, 2008
|Berkeley Skate Park: Backslide on the Chrome 6
- Skate and die? Toxic puddle forces Berkeley officials to close new
Corbett Miller, San Francisco Guardian, February
- City to Blame for Skate Park Fiasco
L A Wood, Berkeley Voice, Jan. 10, 03
- Backside Noseslide on the Chromium 6
L A Wood, Daily Californian, November
- Subsequent Mitigated Negative Declaration - SKATE PARK PROJECT
Edward MurphyCity of Berkeley Department
Parks and Waterfront project Manager
- California Environmental Quality Act CEQA Review for Harrison Soccer and Skate Park Facility
L A Wood July 2, 2001
- Request for a Review of Use Permit #99-10000112 at Fifth and Harrison Streets
L A Wood, December 19, 2000
- BERKELEY to Blame for Skate Park CHROME 6 Fiasco BayVision Broadcast
- Status Report on the Impact of Chromium VI at Harrison
Weldon Rucker, Acting City Manager, City of Berkeley
- Opinion Piece does a disservice VIEWPOINT Berkeley Voice, December 8, 2000
Doug Fielding, Chairman, Association of Sports Field Users
- Did the city ask the right questions on Harrison St. Playfields’ environment?
Berkeley Voice FORUM Carol Denney December 13, 2000
- Much Ado about little, Letter to editor Berkeley Voice
December 16, 2000 Susan McKay, Landscape Architect (participated in design of the project)
- Contaminated site questioned,editor Berkeley Voice
December 16, 2000 Karen Craig, Commission on Disability
- California Environmental Quality Act Review CEQA for Harrison Soccer and Skate Park Facility
L A Wood, July 2, 2001
- Berkeley’s Skate Park: Backslide on the Chrome-6
L A Wood, Berkeley Daily Planet, May 1, 2008
- <ALSO SEE> TheWest Berkeley Story: Permit to Pollute
|Berkeley Skate ParkNews Media
- Berkeley Skate Park Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be
By Judith Scher 2008-04-08
- Berkeley Skateboarding Park Closes Because of Pollutant
Charles Burress, San Francisco Chronicle, page A13 January 4, 2003
- Haven for Skateboard
Aficionados Coming to Berkeley Skateboard Park Land to Cost $2-8 Million
Cecily Burt, Oakland Tribune December 9, 1999
- Construction Imminent on City's First Skate Park
Clare Curley, Berkeley Voice, October 19, 2000
- New Skate Park for Youths to Open: Council
Approves Rules Ordinance Despite Residents' Concerns
Meredith Mandell, Daily Californian,
November 20, 2000
- Chemical Stalls Skate Facility: 'Erin Brockovich'
Pollutant in Berkeley
Hendrick, San Francisco Chronicle,
December 5, 2000
- Toxins Found at Skate Park
Bonnie Chance, Daily Californian, November 28, 2000
- Soccer, Skateboard Park Score Final Goal
Marc Albert, Berkeley Voice, December 10, 1999
- WHY Two "different" Health WARNING SIGNS at Harrison?
Why the TWO SIGNS?
Like so many municipalities with ongoing poor air quality issues, the city of Berkeley has also played the developer card despite it being both the site’s ZONING regulator and owner. When the city’s zoning department’s first efforts were to dismiss all complaints. Instead, a majority of the City Council and city staff targeted those who would dare to suggest there could be any health problems associated with the industrial property being used for play fields and/or temporary housing for our children.
History shows that there was cause for concern (that still exists today) and a need to air monitor. These two signs were placed on the soccer fields after the air monitoring was completed. The first sign the city put up at the WEST BERKELEY property was an intentional (dishonest) distortion of the city's FUNDED air monitoring results and actual site conditions. The city’s property (play fields) exceed the State of California’s air quality standards more that just “occasionally”. The city’s Community Environmental Advisory Commission reviewed this first signage and requested it be CHANGED to reflect a more realistic and honest statement of the field’s poor air quality….