The University Village gardeners and their many supporters were pleasantly surprised to learn that the university will spare its three-acre organic community garden and wildlife habitat (“UC Berkeley unveils its latest plans for complex near Albany’s Gill Tract,” 11/9/01) from the developer’s bulldozer.
While it would be invigorating to believe that the gardeners’ protests were solely responsible for the university’s change of heart, it is likely that economic considerations for both the university and Albany were also important factors in the reversal.
Nevertheless, the lesson to be learned here by those who question the university’s efforts to expand within the tightly inhabited Berkeley-Albany region is not to be cowed into submission by thinking that the university always get what it wants. It’s an assumption made by far too many that limits or prevents the discussion and development of alternative solutions to university expansion plans.
In the case of the original University Village master plan, the gardeners’ protests helped to defeat a proposal that would have had significant negative impacts for Albany, the children who play ball on the sports fields, the gardeners and their families, and all the rest of us who are dismayed to see our open spaces rapidly disappearing. Let’s all keep an eye on the new plan to make certain that the university doesn’t make the same mistakes again and to applaud them when they don’t.