You guys all know about the 12th Street reconstruction by Lake Merritt, right? Basically, they’re going to take the world’s shortest freeway right in front of the Kaiser Convention Center, which currently looks like this:
And they’re going change it to this:
Here’s the City’s project description (PDF)
12th Street will be redesigned into a tree-lined boulevard with signalized intersections and crosswalks and a landscaped median. The redesign will create significant new parkland at the south end of Lake Merritt Park, remove unsafe and unsightly pedestrian tunnels, provide safer and continuous access for pedestrians and bicyclists along the perimeter of Lake Merritt, and improved access between the Kaiser Convention Center and Laney College. Remove of the Lake Merritt Chanel culvert at 12th Street will provide an open-water bridged connection and improve water flow between the Lake and the Estuary. Environmental benefits include improved water quality and wildlife habitat.
Anyway, some of you may remember that, a couple of months ago, there was some question as to whether we were going to actually go through with finally awarding a bid to build it due to concerns over the inability to require local hire on Federally funded projects.
Happily, the Council did decide to award the bid once the contractor agreed to commit to a voluntary local hire program. And tomorrow, 7 years, 6 months, and 2 days after Oakland voters approved the $200 million bond, Measure DD’s marquee project is finally going to break ground.
I can’t even tell you how many frustrated Oaklanders I’ve listened to complain about how deceived they feel over Measure DD and the lack of visible improvement and particularly the lack of any movement on the 12th Street project for so many years. And even when I have tried to be encouraging (“Well, you know, they’re still working on it. They’re trying to get some Federal grants. And hey, DD isn’t all bad. They’ve done a lot of work on water aeration!), I usually find my exceptionally weak attempts to defend the City met with eye-rolling. Which I suppose is probably fair, since, to be honest, for a long time, I really didn’t believe it was ever going to happen either.
But now it actually is! And if you just so happen to have nothing to do at 2 PM on a Thursday, well, you may want to stop by tomorrow’s groundbreaking ceremony:
Oh, and Navigator I’m sure will be thrilled to know that I was passing by there just yesterday and saw a whole bunch of people out picking up trash. So hopefully the setting for the ceremony won’t be too humiliating for Oakland.
Taste of Spring
I work near the Lake, so depending on how I feel tomorrow, I may try to take a late lunch and go check out the 12th Street ceremony. But I have to admit, commemorative shovels and ribbon cuttings and stuff like that isn’t really my thing. There really isn’t all that much to do, the speeches usually tend to be way too long, too numerous, and pretty boring. There’s only so much self-congratulation from politicians any reasonable person can be expected to voluntarily listen to, right? Especially while sober.
Basically, I prefer events that involve alcohol.
And conveniently, tomorrow, you have a second opportunity to celebrate and support Oakland’s beautiful parks and open spaces at the 2010 Taste of Spring, probably more frequently referred to as the Friends of Parks and Rec party. Like the groundbreaking, there will be speeches. And unlike the groundbreaking, this event costs money to attend. But your money goes to a really good cause. And also unlike the groundbreaking, it will have drinks and cool entertainment. Oh, and it also doesn’t conflict with most people’s jobs.
What do you get for your $50? Well, I’ll let the Friends make the pitch. From the Facebook event page:
Come enjoy a spectacular night and help raise money for our beloved yet underfunded parks and recreation centers.
Our seventh annual Taste of Spring event will feature delicious hors d’oeuvres, rare wines, an auction…and special entertainment including acrobatics, aerialists and more! Our special honoree this year is former board president Don Walls, and our corporate honoree is Alta Alliance Bank. And don’t miss this year’s community award presentation to our hometown team the Oakland Athletics.
Taste of Spring is especially important this year due to City of Oakland Parks and Recreation cuts and layoffs. All proceeds from this year’s event will go toward:
- Capital improvement projects for parks and recreational facilities in Oakland.
- Grants and scholarships for children of Oakland to take swimming and boating lessons.
- Supplies and equipment for youth, adults and seniors to participate in educational and recreational programs.
The party goes from 5:30 to 8:00 tomorrow night at the Rotunda Building in downtown Oakland (300 Frank Ogawa Plaza). Tickets are $50 if you buy online in advance or $65 at the door. Hope to see some of you there!