DTO parks get some love

Remember how Nancy Nadel advertised in her re-election campaign literature last year that she had “transformed Jefferson Park into a skate park for youth“? Well, that hadn’t actually happened then, and it isn’t happening now, but I am pleased to report that Jefferson Park will soon be getting a much needed facelift.

In case you haven’t visited lately, right now it looks like this:

It’s a nice enough park, I guess. I enjoy sitting on the lawn there and reading sometimes. But it is rather run down. It’s got this kind of awful abandoned storage building that looks like it’s about to collapse, which certainly does not help the overall feeling of disrepair at the park.

And then there’s this really depressing (and cheap) looking “play structure”.

But all that is going to change soon (PDF)! They’ll be demolishing the storage building, installing a new (and hopefully less pathetic) play structure, moving the basketball court, and creating a dog park for both large and small dogs. A dog park! Exactly what Old Oakland needs!

I know what you’re thinking. Didn’t the City just gut public works funding to the point where we’re basically no longer taking care of our parks? The answer is yes. But the shortfall that caused those cuts was in the LLAD and the General Fund. The park improvements will be paid out of redevelopment money. This, of course, highlights one of the frustrating things about redevelopment, which is that it provides money you can use to build stuff, but leaves you with nothing to maintain it. But that’s an issue for another day.

Anyway, it’s not just Jefferson Park getting lucky this year. Improvements are on the way for Chinatown’s Lincoln Square Park as well. Lincoln Park, in case you haven’t been, is basically just a giant block of asphalt with a play structure and some swings scattered around the edges.

Don’t get me wrong – the play structure is actually pretty cool.

And with all the kids in that neighborhood, it’s crowded pretty much all the time. But it’s hard to deny the park could use some help. Which it will be receiving (PDF) in the form of new lighting, ball courts, a multipurpose synthetic tufts field, and game tables!

I thought of all this, well, actually because some small funding allocations for these park improvements on next week’s agendas (FYI, the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts (PDF) and the Chinese Gardens (PDF) are also getting help) reminded me that I’ve been meaning to mention them. But I’m writing about it because it gives me the perfect excuse to pimp a cool exhibit going on at the Oakland Art Gallery right now.

ProArts and 10,000 Steps have put together a multimedia installation showcasing the history of downtown’s four historic parks (Madison, Lincoln, Jefferson, and Lafayette), which you can check out at the Oakland Art Gallery (150 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza) between now and October 9th.

I could go on about it, but Tina Tamale actually has a really sweet blog up about it right now, so instead, I’m just going to encourage you to head over there and read her pitch for visiting.

click to enlarge

2 thoughts on “DTO parks get some love

  1. Tina Tamale Ramos

    V, gracias for the post about the park and the exhibit! It has been great to work as an ambassador for the 10,000 Steps project. More info about Jefferson Square Park, the storage shed you referred to was actually a Recreation Center that was built in 1948.

    The Rec Center was extremely active with young people and adults. Sporting equipment was loaned out and there were various art and cooking classes. The Latin American bookmobile also made regular stops there. Most of the activity came to an end with the destruction of the community with the building of the freeway in the late 1960s and the Rec Center was closed in the mid-1970s when it was deemed seismically unsafe.

    The park redevelopment will tear down the condemned building and it will be replaced with a dog park by Summer 2010. Members of Old Oakland Neighbors are excited to have community area revamped for everyone’s use and many have committed to volunteering for the upkeep necessary for the park to be clean and safe.

    The next time you are there, if you see a gentleman with soft baby blue eyes playing basketball, say hello. His name is Boone and he has been playing pick up games there since 1948 and he might be able to spin a basketball on your finger or teach you a trick or two.

  2. Theresa Ruiz


    What an interestinig story about Jeffereson Park, and old blue eye Boone! I’ve been looking for information about Thompkin grade school, which was about 6 or 7 blocks from Jeffereson Park. Oops, maybe I better start from the beginning.

    I was born in Oakland, Ca. on March, 1950, and can only remember land marks, I lived in apartment hotel place, there was businesses beneath the hotel I would even guess. Some of the business we’re fountain and drug store, hardware store, goodwill type of store, small pop and moms grocery store, and around the cornor was a mexican show that I use to seek and watch from the alley. Across the street from the was a block that was the shape of a triangle, but maybe a little thinner, not quite triangle, and there was a liquor store there.

    I remember walking to school from my hous, passing the Saint Joseph Church, and crossing over tracks with lot’s of residential business, and some small factory business. We would walk under a tunnel, don’t remember if there was water under the tunnel or not, but I believe there was because, now that I’m older I’ve noticed in that area there is a small section of water. Actually, I know that this area has been all torn down and rebuilt with other businesses and homes.

    I don’t remember my address, and I don’t have any family members that do know at this time. I went to Thompkin school, and went to Saint Joesph Church and hope that maybe you might be able to direct me to the right resource to find out the history in the area I just spoke about for the year of 1950 and on.

    Thank you so much for reading this letter, and hope you can help.