The Piedmont City Council voted 4-1 to adopt the Blair Park element of the Moraga Canyon Sports Field Project early Tuesday morning, in the final vote of a meeting that stretched just under seven hours.
Council member Garrett Keating cast the single dissenting vote.
It's not the last time the project will come before the council -- in particular, a lease between the city and Blair Park LLC, a legal entity created by proponents of the project, will be back for consideration at the next council meeting.
But a series of votes on the project's environmental impact report and other details, capped by the final approval, mean that the $6 million plan to build privately financed sports fields in the park will move ahead.
The council did make some changes to the plan, including a requirement that proponents provide the city with a proposal for financing eventual replacement of the fields' artificial turf.
Council members also voted not to move ahead with any improvements to Coaches Field but to retain a capital improvement fund for that field.
Voting followed a very long public hearing, with 70 people signed up to speak for or against the project. (About a dozen of them left before their names were called.) Many represented either the Piedmont Recreational Facilities (PRFO), the nonprofit group backing the project and pledging to raise funds for construction, or the Friends of Moraga Canyon, the main group opposed to the plan.
Also among the speakers was Libby Schaaf, an Oakland City Council member, who said she was "opposed to shoehorning a soccer field into a hillside."
Oakland's concerns, including good access for fire engines and other emergency vehicles along Moraga Avenue, have not been addressed by Piedmont, she said.
A little later, the hearing was punctuated by a sharp exchange between former Piedmont mayor Al Peters and current mayor Dean Barbieri.
Peters chastised Barbieri for telling him to "bring it on" during a earlier meeting with opponents of the project at Peters' home.
"You're a former mayor, you should know you shouldn't just pop off like that," Barbieri snapped back. He said Peters had "threatened litigation" if the project was approved.
All seats in the council chambers were taken by 7 p.m., a half hour before the meeting officially began, and the crowd overflowed into a viewing room and hallway to watch the proceedings on television monitors.
Those arriving at Ciy Hall were greeted by members of the Friends of Moraga Canyon, who displayed banners in opposition to the plan and even served up tiny tarts they said were made from wild fruits that grow in Blair Park.
The plan approved by the council includes one large sports field of artificial turf and a smaller field in a "grassy glade," two parking lots, a concession stand and restroom building, a traffic roundabout on Moraga Avenue, shoring up of the steep hillside on the park's southern side, and removal of many trees, including a number of native live oaks.
Backers of the proposal say the city badly needs more practice space for youth sports clubs. Opponents favor leaving Blair Park in a more natural state.