Laurel Neighborhood News

by John Frando and Kathleen Rolinson

Potential Park Site: The hillside behind Tilden School on Steele Street. Photo by John Frando

Click to enlarge.

Potential New Park Sites

As a follow-up to its November 2007 neighborhood park panel discussion, the Laurel Village Association hosted a tour of three potential new public park sites. Braving the morning threat of cold and rain on Saturday, February 23, a half dozen neighbors walked around the Laurel Elementary School play yard, the fenced vacant lot at Maybelle Avenue and Masterson Street (a.k.a. the Kragen lot), and the wooded hillside behind Tilden School on Steele Street.

Each site has unique attributes that would affect the type of park to be developed. The paved play yard at Laurel Elementary offers a chance to partner with the school district and school site in order to create a community park to serve the growing number of families with young children.

The Kragen lot is an opportunity to create a small public open space in a part of the neighborhood growing denser with the new Masterson Lofts and city-approved senior housing project at High Street and MacArthur.

Like the Laurel Elementary site, the Tilden School hillside offers a chance to partner with the school district and school site. The largest of the three sites, with many large trees, it has potential to be developed into a neighborhood destination, with a community center and other amenities to enjoy along with the natural setting.

Work to realize new public parks at these sites continues, and announcements will be made at the organization's monthly general meetings.

Stewards of the Environment

On Saturday, April 19 from 9 a.m. to noon, the Laurel will host at least two Earth Day sites. Volunteers from the Laurel and Allendale Park will continue efforts to transform the area around 35th Avenue and I-580 into an attractive gateway into both neighborhoods. Native plant and creek restoration work also continues at Peralta Creek at Wisconsin Street and Rettig Avenue. The creek offers the best site for children to volunteer.

To join in, simply show up. Earth Day regulars recall that early birds are rewarded with t-shirts and breakfast. Come with sturdy shoes and gloves.

Keeping the Laurel Clean and Green

Attendees at the February 28 Laurel Village Association general meeting learned from city officials what tools exist for removing nuisance and blight from the neighborhood.

Neighborhood Services Coordinator Rene Sykes shared her experience with the neighborhood crime prevention councils to eliminate nuisance activities and mediate with owners of problem properties.

Isaac Wilson, inspector with the city's Building Services Division, outlined Oakland's Blight Ordinance, which affects commercial and residential properties. Not removing garbage bins by noon on the day after collection, not maintaining tidy front and side yards, and hanging laundry in front yards or balconies can eventually lead to fines. To report blight, call 238-3381.

Attorneys with the Neighborhood Law Corps in the City Attorney's Office explained the importance of carefully documenting illegal activities as evidence that might lead to court convictions. They passed out activity logs with instruction on what information to collect.

While no official from Public Works attended, problems with public rights-of-way and infrastructure can be reported to the Public Works Call Center by phone at 615-5566 or by email at pwacallcenter\

John Frando can be reached at jfrando\ and Kathleen Rolinson at krolinson\