Lennar Multifamily will be hosting a community meeting tonight at the ECCL to solicit ideas for the Sherwin-Williams park space as part of a negotiated agreement by PARC. 3.5 acres of the 10 acre project are slated for parks and trails with roughly two of these acres dedicated to a large park facing the Blue Star Corner townhomes.
The park will not only lessen our city’s dearth of park space, but improve the connectivity of our town by extending the Greenway and providing a vital East/West pedestrian connection when the South Bayfront bridge to Bay Street breaks ground late next year. The park also presents an amazing opportunity to honor our fascinating past and heritage as a city. Whatever we do with the space, we’d be remiss if we didn’t celebrate the rich history of the Park Avenue District.
First – A Brief History Lesson
The site of the park was of course the Sherwin-Williams Paint Factory built in 1919 and shuttered in 2006. Prior to this, it was Oakland Trotting Park built in 1871 by Connecticut native Edward Wiard (Emeryville wasn’t incorporated as its own city until 1896). The mile long racetrack hosted wagering on both thoroughbred and harness horse races. The track was the site of many famous African-American jockeys and was even visited by President Ulysses S. Grant according to The Emeryville Historical Society. State Legislation led to the eventual closing of the racetrack in 1911.
City identifies need for more Park Space
The city took on the ambitious task of developing a Parks and Recreation Strategic Plan in 2009. Based on community input, four key activities were selected that should be included in one form or another at each Emeryville park site:
- Play for Children
- Socializing and Relaxing
- Respite and Solitude
An audit of our city’s existing Parks & Recreation sites produced this list (does not include The Joseph Emery Skate Park or account for the soon to be expanded Christie Avenue Park):
This inventory map includes areas that are targeted for open-space including the PG&E site on Hollis and the potential expansion of Doyle-Hollis Park:
Which Amenities are appropriate for this site?
Early in the planning stages, the space was slated to be a dog park when the city had none. The city now has two and a third in the works with the approval of the “Halleck-Beach” dog park. It also seems apparent to me that just creating open space may not necessarily be a draw. I pass the “Hollis Green” park in front of Novartis almost daily and rarely do I see anyone there. It’s beautifully groomed, but without any amenities, it rarely gets used.
Which amenities are appropriate for this site will be an important decision. A children’s play structure is a given considering the city’s mission to draw families. Our Doyle Street Community Garden has a three-year wait list so this might also be a popular choice. Neighbors I’ve personally spoke with are sensitive to anything that would draw more vehicles into the already congested area so this would probably preclude having any sports facilities.
Whatever we decide on as a community, it will be an interesting process to witness unfold and I eagerly await to hear the creative ideas that will be brought forth. When complete, it will be the city’s second largest park after Marina Park.
Date: Tuesday, December 13th
Time: 6:00 to 7:30 pm
Location: Emeryville Center of Community Life (ECCL)
4727 San Pablo Ave, Building A100
Light refreshments will be provided