To the Editor:
Mayor Dean's plea for playing fields in the new Eastshore Park (Forum, Aug. 28) ended with an ominous, “Let's also reopen the discussion around the closing of Derby Street . . . (for) playing fields for Berkeley High students.” Yet again? Okay. I'll repeat the objections of residents living within the area bounded by the heavily-used Dwight, MLK Way, Ashby, and Shadduck/Adeline:
n Closing Derby would mean that four of the eight east-west streets between Ashby and Dwight would be blocked at Shattuck/Adeline, causing still further congestion on Blake, Parker, Carleton, Stuart. (Russell, Oregon, and Ward are already blocked.)
n Fire engines leaving the station at Derby and Shattuck to go west would use residential streets instead of Derby, which has no residential housing from Shattuck to MLK Way. This route would increase accident risk and emergency response time.
n The proposed playing field is a “hardball” baseball field, requiring more land (hence a street closure) and high fences to protect surrounding people from the dense, hard, farther-traveling balls. Berkeley High practice fields are locked after school hours. This means locking up more than a city block for use by high school teams only and under the supervision of a coach – not an opportunity for “the joy of an informal game of touch football,” as Mayor Dean describes it.
n Not only would the proposed field lock out our neighborhood children, it would bring in other high school teams for games, adding glaring lights, a blaring sound system, and more traffic.
I recognize that this site is school property. Speaking or myself, I could support a fenced playing field without the closure of Derby Street, without an amplified sound system, with use open to neighborhood children after school hours, and finally, if it were locked at 10 or 11 p.m. to keep out transients.