Page One

Promises, no action

Friday May 25, 2001

Promises, no action 


It's déjà vu all over again! And again, and again!  

The Parks Department promises to coat the wooden play structures in Cedar Rose and other Berkeley parks to prevent transference of arsenic onto children's hands and the Corporation Yard promises to clean up its gravel pits. (“Groups challenge arsenic in play structures” 5/24/01 and “Corporation Yard cited for second time” 5/23/01. )  

I was one of the founders of Parents United for Health who marched on Berkeley City Hall and held press conferences in Cedar Rose Park in June 1983 to protest the use of pesticides in city parks and to ask for a solution to the arsenic problem.  

As a neighbor of the Corporation Yard, I have also heard the city's many promises regarding environmental problems there.  

The rapid turnover of city staff, especially in management positions, means each department head can honestly say, “It didn't happen while I was in charge,” and blame past managers. Meanwhile, citizens suffer the consequences.  

The Corporation Yard's current promise to cover the rock, sand, gravel, and dirt bunkers with canopies and to put filters in the storm sewers is not an acceptable solution for the neighborhood.  

Neighbors have complained about the noise and air pollution from this operation for a long time, and have heard many promises, such as covering the bunkers with tarpaulins. Such clean-up efforts by the Corporation Yard rarely last more than a week or two.  

The sand, crushed granite, etc. are brought into this residential neighborhood in tandem trailers, dumped into the bunkers – creating great clouds of airborne particulate – and much noise.  

Employees then use a front-end loader to transfer the material into city dump trucks, each time creating clouds of dust, and making noise just 10 feet from the tennis and volleyball courts at Strawberry Creek Park and 40 feet from the kitchen and bedroom windows of Section 8 housing. The scooping and loading involves much backing up – can you hear the beeping? – crunching, thumping, scraping, and whooshing.  

Imagine trying to play tennis through that? Imagine living next to that? Do we need a study of airborne particulate in the Corporation Yard?  

It's time to end stopgap measures and move the gravel pits operation elsewhere!  

The city should replace the park play structures on an emergency basis! The 1980's study found that one wipe with a moist cloth (or sweaty hand) picked up dangerous levels of arsenic. Let's not endanger our children any longer!  

Acta non verba!  


Toni Horodysky