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
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….