It can get frustrating being a taxpayer in Oakland, huh? The City passes a tax to hire more police, you pay your tax, and you get less police. The City passes a tax to keep all the libraries open six days a week, you pay your tax, and the libraries get closed on Mondays anyhow. You vote for a tax to keep bus fares affordable, and then the State takes away all the bus’s money and then service gets cut and fares go up anyway.
But it’s good to remember sometimes that voting to give the government money doesn’t always turn out bad. The long-awaited 12th Street reconstruction project that just broke ground last week is one example of Oaklanders getting something nice in return for all that money we pay, thanks to Measure DD. And at tonight’s Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board meeting (PDF), we get to hear about another nice little upcoming project funded by bond proceeds.
Morcom Rose Garden
You guys know about the Rose Garden, right? It’s…well, it’s a rose garden.
It’s nice. I mean, as flowers go, I personally think roses are kind of overrated, and would probably visit the garden more if it were full of some other kind of flowers that were prettier and smelled better. But it is nice. It’s just off Grand Avenue right by the Piedmont border. People have weddings there.
The Rose Garden is also where they give out the Mother of the Year award. They have a nice little rose-bush lined path where they have plaques with the names of all the Mothers of the Year since it started in 1954.
The City bought the property in 1912 as a neighborhood park, but made it into a rose garden in the 1930s.
The Rose Garden is fortunate to be supported by a very dedicated group of volunteers.
The Rose Garden is getting a makeover!
Don’t worry. It’s still going to be full of roses. Maybe “facelift” would be a more appropriate term. Anyway, thanks to Measure WW, that East Bay Regional Park District bond you guys passed in November 2008, all sorts of improvements are on the way for the Rose Garden.
Of course, since the Rose Garden is a City landmark, anything you do to it has to go through all sorts of review to ensure that the historical integrity of the garden will not be compromised. And so at their meeting tonight (PDF), Oakland’s Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board will be reviewing the proposed WW improvements to the Morcom Rose Garden (PDF).
The project is mostly a whole bunch of kind of little improvements that will hopefully all add up to make the Rose Garden a nicer place to be (and a more desirable facility for renting).
Jean Street entrance
The garden’s main entrance on Jean Street is quite pretty and welcoming if you got there by, say, walking or taking the bus. But it is not particularly friendly for cars, and if you need to park, you’re just going to be trying your luck randomly along this residential street. Which I suppose is fine for most people, but a problem for those with limited mobility. So they’re going to add a handicap parking space on Jean Street, an accessibility code-compliant ramp to the sidewalk, and a drop-off zone at the entrance.
Despite what some Councilmembers seem to think, parks really should have restrooms. The Rose Garden does have restrooms right now, but they are not at all handicap accessible. You have to walk up a steep staircase to get there. So they’re going to fix that problem by taking the tool shed (pictured above) at the front of the garden and turning it into a restroom. Then the old restroom will become storage.
Paths and Staircases
Other improvements include repairs to the crumbling staircases and falling apart paths, which are desperately needed. I don’t know if you guys can see in that photo (you can click on it to make it bigger), but the path there is like, completely disintegrated. It’s horrible! With the improvements, they’re going to use some kind of different material for the path (“decomposed granite”) which will apparently be cheaper to maintain and also is better for the garden’s historical integrity.
They are also adding lighting on the staircases to make it safer for the people who walk through the garden at night. Oh, and signage, which is also good, because right now, there is little to no signage at all, and what little there is kind of sucks.
Improvements to Restroom Building
Restroom Building! That’s a terrible name! They’re going to have to change the name, I guess, since they’re moving the restrooms to the tool shed. Anyway, I guess this building has lots of holes in it, so part of the garden improvements will include patching up the holes and waterproofing it so it doesn’t get damaged any more.
So, like I said above, people allegedly rent out the Rose Garden for weddings. I don’t know how often that happens, though. I have never been to one of these Rose Garden weddings, and honestly, it seems like kind of a weird space for them. I don’t really understand where all your guests are supposed to sit. I mean, I can see how this space here at the Restroom Building would make a nice place for the ceremony, but where do you put all the chairs? There’s no space for them because there are rose bushes everywhere!
There are some benches scattered among the rose bushes in front of the restroom building, but I can’t imagine them holding all that many people. Maybe it’s just a good place to have a wedding for people who don’t have really large extended families, I guess. Anyway, with the renovations, this area is going to accessible, plus they are going to move those bulletin boards off the back wall so people don’t have to have flyers and stuff in their wedding pictures. Also, they’re going to put a shelf up in its place so people can put flowers up there.
Finally, the Rose Garden fountain is getting major upgrades too. I don’t know a lot about fountain technology, but the current fountain cleaning system, where the gardeners drain the whole thing and scrub it clean every two weeks, sounds very inefficient to me.
With the WW improvements, the fountain is going to get some kind of fancy new filtration system that will allow the water to be treated without a lot of work by the gardeners. Sounds great. Hooray for Measure WW!
Anyway, if you want to learn more about the Rose Garden improvements, you can learn about them in the agenda report for tonight Landmarks Board meeting (PDF), or you could always check out the meeting in person. The Rose Garden is the only item on the agenda, and the meeting starts at 6 PM tonight in City Hall Hearing Room 1.
And if you haven’t been to the Rose Garden recently, it really is worth a trip.