New Vision for Piedmont’s Blair Park
Recently, there have been many suggestions for Blair Park in the local media. Some credible and some ridiculous. If one thing is for sure, it is time for a “New Vision” to emerge for Piedmont’s Blair Park. This should be a plan that is modest in scope, has a cost that is appropriate in the context of Piedmont City budget priorities, and involves extensive public participation through a transparent process.
Any new plan should consider the current status of Blair Park. The considerations for a development plan can be summarized as follows:
Arterial Robustness and Safety
Moraga Avenue is a critical traffic artery, but has vulnerabilities, particularly under stressed circumstances. Any development should at least maintain the arterial aspect of the avenue, and more desirably, enhance it.
Moraga Avenue in its present condition has safety issues, particularly for uphill bicycle traffic and to the use of the few existing parking spaces in Blair Park. An improvement in both these safety areas is desirable, and the need for such improvements, by themselves, provide motivation for limited development solutions.
Moraga Avenue is also dangerous for any pedestrian attempting to cross it. Development plans should not have any effect that specifically encourages pedestrians to cross the street.
Blair Park is inherently beautiful, but has been neglected and is being used as a dumping site. Intelligent and forward-looking attention to maintenance basics is already needed. Blair Park is also considered a gateway to Piedmont. Attention to aesthetics and related issues such as tree health go hand-in-hand with consideration of development options. Any development plans should have a natural open space character and contribute to a parkway style aesthetic.
Public Accessibility and Use
As it is now, Blair Park is nominally accessible and is used to a very limited extent. It would generally be in the interest of the community to improve safe accessibility. With appropriate and carefully planned development, Blair Park can easily absorb a modest increase in use.
Environmental and Topographical
Blair Park enjoys and provides a rich environment for native vegetation — plant community and the appropriate wildlife habitat that should be preserved and restored to a higher level of ecological diversity. The ecologically rich, elongated, and meandering site is suitable for incorporating diverse elements that the community may consider under the principles of “Bay Friendly Landscaping Guidelines” that embody community values for health and safety, wildlife, and the environment.
Development by the Community
The developmental direction of Blair Park needs to be community-based. Any development needs to be attentive to the City’s budgetary constraints, and be staged over a period of time. There is an opportunity for private-public partnerships, but development is fundamentally a Piedmont City project, and should be run in a transparent manner, with abundant opportunity for the community to contribute to the planning.
As resources become scarce in the urban environment, we need to learn and practice new ways of stewarding the land. Blair Park gives us in Piedmont an opportunity to venture on a path where, unified, we can create a project that exemplifies this new way of thinking about our environment and fosters a real sense of community.
Piedmont has an opportunity to develop Blair Park in a way that accords with an emerging vision of public space. We invite community engagement regarding the tenets of a development plan for Blair Park, defining the structural elements for such a plan, and seeking community ideas and participation on development of features and amenities within the Park.
Let us hear from individual residents and organizations, such as garden clubs, Piedmont Connect and the school community, and regional stakeholders. Please give your opinion, your ideas, your suggestions and comments. You can also write to Piedmont Civic Association at www.piedmontcivic.org <http://www.piedmontcivic.org/> or e-mail your comment to email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>