Not a single person thought that the proposed commercial developments for Chavez Park were a good idea. That was a key takeaway from three days of talking with park visitors at the Chavez Park Conservancy booth over the July 4 holiday weekend. The visitors’ reactions ranged from curiosity to disbelief to outrage. We are not here for big noise or zip lines; we are here for nature, fresh air, exercise, peace and quiet, a chance to heal and recover from urban stress — that was the consensus.
The custom-built Conservancy booth was open from 11 to 1 on Saturday, from 2 to 5 on Sunday, and from 3 to 6 on Monday July 4. On Sunday, we contacted 103 people at the booth. On Monday we had contact with 129 people. Susan Black helped staff the table on two of the three days. In addition, several volunteers, including Emilie Keas, Virginia Browning, and others, distributed flyers elsewhere in the park. At the end of day Monday we had distributed 280 of the flyers.
Virginia Browning wrote: “It was interesting to me how few people had heard anything about this proposal, even in the dog-walking area.”
We also collected 22 signatures on a petition addressed to City Council Member Rashi Kesarwani, elected by voters in District 1, where the park is located. Kesarwani has not issued a statement about the BMASP proposals. The petition urges her to break her silence and “make a strong, clear, and public statement.”
Volunteers are carrying additional copies of the petition to circulate in District 1. Kesarwani’s term ends in November this year and she must run for re-election if she wishes to stay on City Council. If you would like a copy of the petition, contact email@example.com. A map of District 1 is below.
Several people wanted to sign the petition who did not live in Berkeley’s District 1 (we didn’t allow that). Very soon we’ll have a second petition that anyone can sign. The park has always been understood as a regional attraction. Park visitors are entitled to make their opinions known regardless of how far they travel to come here and enjoy it.
At the booth we also sold 3 Park Lover’s baseball caps. We didn’t ask for money but several park visitors dug in their wallets and we ended up with $100 in cash donations to cover the cost of producing the flyers.
My impression is that traffic in the park over the holiday weekend was lighter than on normal weekends. Apparently many people took the opportunity to get out of town. We plan to be back in the park this coming weekend, July 9 and 10. If you would like to take a turn staffing the table, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.