And More Letters

Letter from Susan Tomasello

I am a SF Bay Area native Californian.  My husband and I have lived in the same West Berkeley home for almost 4 decades.   We reside in District 1.  As you know, the Berkeley Marina is also in District 1.

I am writing to express my deep sadness and frustration regarding  the hiring of a consultant, at great cost no doubt, which proposes “changes” in the Berkeley Marina aka BMASP.  

Who exactly does not understand what a gem the City has at the Berkeley Marina/Cesar Chavez Park?  Who exactly thinks stripping nature away and adding a Concert Stage, Zip-line and destroying a very popular Children’s area is a good idea?  And who exactly believes the City can generate enough money for these ridiculous items to be financially sustainable?  

These circumstances are causing me to lose faith in my District representation.  Prove me wrong by doing the right thing and keep the Marina the way it is.  The money spent on the BMASP could have been spent on building real Restrooms at Cesar Chavez Park.  Now that’s an improvement we all could agree on!!!

Sincerely,

Susan Tomasello

Letter from Jeff Malmuth

Dear City of Berkeley Parks and Waterfront Commissioners:

I am writing on behalf of a coalition of more than 280 households committed to the preservation of Cesar Chavez Park as open space.

For the past couple of years, the PRW Department and its consultants have been exploring different options for Cesar Chavez Park (through a process known as the Berkeley Marina Area Specific Plan or BMASP). The proposals have included commercializing Cesar Chavez Park by creating an adventure park with ziplines and other paid entertainments and a permanent bandstand for year-round music performances and festivals.

Such suggestions are inappropriate, inequitable, and anti-environment. Cesar Chavez Park must be preserved as open space freely accessible by all, including residents of West Berkeley (whose access to open space is limited).

The Marina area, which includes Cesar Chavez Park, does have a desperate need to increase funding and improve maintenance — but not at the cost of scarce open space. The original Marina area funding scheme has driven the Marina and the park into the ground. Cesar Chavez Park has been supported entirely by revenues generated at the Marina — but revenues generated at the Marina have gone into the city’s General Fund rather than being earmarked for the waterfront. The Marina area has been a cash cow.

To add insult to injury, Cesar Chavez Park is the only park in the city that has had to pay for its own garbage collection, landscaping, and maintenance.

On April 29, an article appeared in Berkeleyside about the Berkeley Marina Area Specific Plan. I was shocked. I have been a regular at Cesar Chavez Park for decades. In fact, as a former landscaper, I was visiting the area, to drop off yard clippings, when it was still the city dump.

I know Cesar Chavez Park very, very well. But I had heard nothing about the BMASP.

Two weeks after that article was published, I started reaching out to inform other members of the community. In less than two months, we have formed a coalition of people in more than 280 households who all deeply love and appreciate the open space at Cesar Chavez Park. We are so grateful for it.

I should underscore that none of the members of our group knew anything about the BMASP and proposed commercial development of Cesar Chavez Park until after that Berkeleyside article. We are not hard to find; we are out in the park every single day. And we don’t feel that outreach was adequate regarding this project that is so critically important to the community.

Our 280-plus concerned households probably represent 1,000 individuals. We are a compelling cross section of social, economic, professional, age, racial and gender groups with very diverse interests and who rely on Cesar Chavez Park for different kinds of recreation and renewal.  But: We are all united in our belief that Cesar Chavez Park must remain open space. The Berkeley Marina area is a refuge. It is a place of rejuvenation and rest for people, plants, and animals. We are committed to keeping it that way. 

It is very important for the Parks and Waterfront Commission, city staff, BMASP consultants, and city council to understand that the issues here go far beyond just parks planning, funding, and maintenance.

Another important issue addressed by vice mayor Kate Harrison in response to a member of our coalition wrote:

“Not only is this an environmental issue, it is a blatant equity issue.”

Vice mayor Harrison further noted: “Public, natural space is necessary in urban areas as it allows any and everybody access to nature, not only those who can privately afford it.” 

Councilmember Harrison “gets it.” Respectfully…the PRW needs to show that you “get it,” too. Preserving Cesar Chavez Park as open space is a matter of social justice. 

People who live in the Berkeley hills may have big yards and lots of access to open space, but residents of West Berkeley do not. People who live in apartments do not. Low-income people do not. Berkeley needs to preserve Cesar Chavez as open space so that existing inequities aren’t made worse. 

Now is the time for the PRW department and the city council to correct that funding model, and to stand up for the environment and social justice. We respectfully ask that you commit to Cesar Chavez Park remaining as it is: an important, integral open space to be loved and appreciated by park goers of all means now and in the future.

This is a crossroads. Preserving Cesar Chavez Park as open space is profoundly important. As so many letters to the commissioners have demonstrated, Cesar Chavez Park is vital to the emotional, physical and spiritual well-being of many, many people – in West Berkeley, throughout the city, and beyond.

Respectfully,

Jeff Malmuth
District 1
Berkeley

Letter from Uwe Wirtz and Jasmine Amador

Dear Ms.Kesarwani,

My husband, Uwe, our precious dog, Anushka and I are walkers at CCP. This wonderful park has been the place we go for solice, refreshment, mental health,  and the pure joy of walking in such a wonderfully natural environment has been and still is absolutely essential to our well-being! We are among thousands of CCP enjoyers that depend on having this park in it’s non-commercialized state in our Berkeley community. We absolutely need and want this park to remain uncommercialzed especially in the manner BMASP has planned! 
There is NO consensus among the various CCP users to agree to any plans put forth by BMASP. This is a total fabrication! We want and we expect the following groups to be contacted for full participation in this devastating endeavor:
Chavez Park Conservancy
CP dog owner’s group
Solar Calendar organization
Model Airplane group
Golden Gate Audubon Society
Sierra Club
California Native Plant Society
Citizens for Eastshore State Parks
CCP Walking group
Berkeley residents

The BMASP consulting firm’s plans would destroy the beautiful landscape of CCP and destroy the wildlife there. Do we really need more noise, trash, crowds, traffic, air and water pollution, etc. in Berkeley? We are pleading with you Ms. Kesarwani and the BCC to rethink this plan in collaboration with the above mentioned CCP lovers and arrive at a healthy and environmentally responsible consensus. Please, let’s avoid the impending catastrophe that is planned by BMASP.

Uwe Wirtz and Yasmine Amador
Long time Berkeley Residents

Letter from Carl Dellar PhD

Dear Mss Kesarwani, the Berkeley City Manager, the Mayor and council members for Berkeley City,

I am writing to register my opposition to the proposed BMASP for Cesar Chavez Park.

I, my wife, and two adult children visit Cesar Chavez multiple times per week.
We drive there explicitly to enjoy walking the many paths across and around the park’s perimeter. A further value to us is that it is one of the only places in the Oakland and Berkeley area where we feel safe walking ourselves and our dog.

Removing some of the pathways and unleashed dog areas would mean a significant drop in the park’s value to us.

Besides using the park for walking I fly UAS and model airplanes and drive to the park two or three times a week to fly.  The proposed location of a new Events pavilion (the Lovebox ???) would, by the looks of it, include the  current model aircraft area (where the windsock is).

This would create an enormous disappointment to model aircraft enthusiasts that use Cesar Chavez park.  Further, as you may or may not know FAA regulations prohibit UAS (including drones, powered model aircraft, and model gliders which are very commonly flown at Cesar Chavez Park) from flying over structures like stadiums and other meeting areas when events are taking place.  Having an event pavilion on Cesar Chavez will not only increase parking difficulties but make flying model aircraft on Event days a very very tedious exercise: increasing risks for accidents and greatly reducing useable airspace and the enjoyment of model aircraft enthusiasts.

I myself do not fly kites very often but as you must know Cesar Chavez is a very popular, and super place, to fly a kite; the wind comes off the sea and creates great updrafts for kites (and model gliders).   The proposed position of Adventure Park II seems to be the optimum position for kit flying.  Removing this kite flying area will be a disappointment to hundreds of people! 

Why don’t you go out there some days and just observe where gliders and kites are being flown! 

Do please note my opposition to this BMASP proposal.

Kindest of regards,
Carl Dellar PhD

Letter from Blaine Brende

RE: the cities proposed plan to put an “events space” in Chavez Park at the Berkeley Marina.

We go almost daily to Chavez park to walk our dog and to enjoy clean air, the cool on a hot summer day, the quiet and to enjoy the nature there. The best part of it is perhaps the woodsy hill near the water filled with native plants. Our dog loves it and so do we. 

Would it feel the same for us if the proposeed changes went through? I very mudh doubt it. Gone will be the unique nature experiene by the bay to be replaced by walking around man made structures and parking lots, which is certainly not the same thing. Please don’t do it. If you want to change the park, I suggest putting up a plaque to celebrate the genius landscape architect who turned a city dump into a terraine that looks pristine and untouched. Berkeley should be proud of its unique Chavez Park, not bulldoze it.

Letter from Diana Bohn

It is extremely appalling that you would destroy the native plant area on the Southwest corner !!  – by building a zipline and other sports aparatus!!

We need the open space and the plants, not more noise!

There are several events venues in Berkeley. We certainly souldn’t destroy the Marina park to build a new one!

Sincerely,

Diana Bohn

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One thought on “And More Letters

  • July 11, 2022 at 9:26 pm
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    Wonderful and persuasive letters. It is shameful that the city administration and some Councilmembers can even consider such a proposal.

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