Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Sustainability" Listening Session, Oct. 30

These are Kathleen's personal notes. I have tried to group similar topics together, but otherwise have followed the order in which the conversation happened.

I came in late to this session, so these notes may not be complete.

Two members of the Project Advisory Committee were present. We started off with 6 members of the public, but another 5 came in towards the end and participated actively. Besides Elizabeth and Sarah from Parks, and Bob from Central Services, we were joined by Leslie from the City's Community Garden program.

Community Garden

According to Leslie from the City, there is a waiting list for the Community Garden. This has been a bad gardening year, and there have been some drop-outs. (This may explain people's perception that there are actually lots of spaces available.)

When the community garden folks requested an expansion to the garden, they had envisioned this happening to the west side, not to the east. (Both maps currently show expansion to the east.) To the east you run into trees, and it's hard to grow under trees.

Some support was expressed for expanding the community garden to the west. Of course, this runs into the Dog Off-leash Area (DOLA). Maybe the garden could be "squeezed down" to make up for loss to the DOLA. We could also reconfigure so that the proposed new shelter for the garden also serves the DOLA. (Currently it is shown inside the garden's fence and would not serve both.)

Dog park hill is an important location for sledding when it snows.

Trees, Habitat, Pollinators

Trees are important for air quality mitigation plus a sound barrier from the freeway.

City Bureau of Environmental Services prefers map A for habitat issues, because of the additional trees. Birds will go back and forth between Lents & Bloomington Park.

BES wants to encourage moth-type pollinators. Bees are an issue for some path users because of bee sting allergies.

City wants to look into perennials and native plants that aren't such high maintenance. At Gabriel Park there is a perennial pollinator "mound" that has been successful so far.

Could there be volunteer maintenance? City currently has a "pesticide free parks" program that relies on volunteers.

Orchards work best as part of a community garden. If fallen fruit doesn't get picked up right away, it attracts yellow jackets. Could we maybe have nut trees instead of fruit? Leslie says there has been a lot of loss of nut trees in private yards recently, because they take up space.

One participant (FLP member Debbie) pointed out a tree to west of Community Garden. This was planted in memory of her late mother. Leslie says comm. gardens in various park contain memorial trees.

Open Space

Map A would add approximately 60 new trees (although this is not an exact number - details would be filled in at the schematic stage). One participant says "the more trees the better!" But overall, the majority of participants were concerned about the loss of open space that this would involve. This neighborhood loves its trees, but perhaps we don't need THIS many new ones. One participant said we do not want the park to become so full that we lose natural light. Another participant (with a nursery background) said 60 new trees is very ambitious, and we need to think of maintenance cost.

From a maintenance perspective, open swaths are easier to mow. New trees should be grouped into "groves."

Swales and Stormwater

There was a lot of discussion of how to better direct stormwater. Swales are old technology at this point. There is a lot of exciting stuff being done with permeable barriers.

One participant would have liked the proposal to terrace the community garden because of drainage issues. Regardless, the final plan will have better drainage for that hill in the SE corner. Drainage will be looked at in the schematic stage, along with details like lighting, benches, water fountains, etc.


New restrooms are great, but will they ever be open? This will depend on maintenance budget. But new, more open-style restrooms are expected to be less prone to vandalism which leads to closing.

The plan is to get rid of the port-a-potties that are now in the park. One participant said port-a-potties are not sustainable, since they require servicing by truck.

Maintenance Costs

While not formally part of this discussion, some important information was shared.

The City estimates approximately $6 million for development of the entire Master Plan, which includes approx. $800,000 for the synthetic field. There is currently no money in the budget for any of this; it would have to come from future bond issues. But without a Master Plan in place, we cannot get in line for any funds that may become available in the future.

Both maps A and B would be more expensive to maintain than what we have in the park now, because of the additional pathways. The synthetic turf needs much less maintenance than grass (would wash out over the lifetime of the field, when you factor in how much it costs to install).

The water for the proposed new spray feature would potentially be a high cost. (Spray feature has been popular among all respondents, and would replace the wading pool that has had to be eliminated due to new state law.)

As park improvements go, this Master Plan would not be TOO expensive, because there is not a lot of paving or new structures.


One participant described the SE bowl area currently as "wasted space." There is nothing going on there, no beauty.

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