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Telegraph Property Owners Move People's Park "Re-vitalizing" Proposal Closer to University Planners Tuesday at TBID Monthly Meet

By Ted Friedman
Wednesday August 10, 2011 - 02:48:00 PM
Some Telegraph Avenue businessmen at their monthly meeting at Durant Hotel near campus. Craig Becker at center--presiding--Doris Moskowitz to right. Roland Peterson at other end of table (not pictured).
Ted Friedman
Some Telegraph Avenue businessmen at their monthly meeting at Durant Hotel near campus. Craig Becker at center--presiding--Doris Moskowitz to right. Roland Peterson at other end of table (not pictured).

A proposal for "revitalizing" present conditions in People's Park is headed for the university vice-chancellor's office as early as today,; but that proposal was put through a democratic meat-grinder at Tuesday’s Telegraph Avenue property owners monthly meeting before it emerged as more conciliatory to the university. 

The revised-at-the-meeting proposal calls for changes (now called, "revitalizing") to the park to attract more students and visitors, changes, seen even by some Teley businessmen as disruptive to present park users. 

The proposal passed eight to two, with one abstention. At least two members had mixed feelings about their votes. Each member expressed awareness of the polarizing 

nature of the proposal. 

Some hoped their positions would not hurt their businesses. 

Before it was democratically rethought, the proposal had been kicking around since April in various guises, but always delayed for further rewrites of sections seen as "inflammatory or provocative." 

With the proposal's author, Craig Becker, owner of the Caffe Mediterraneum, as Telegraph Business improvement District's (TBID) in-coming president, the process 

for submitting the proposal has accelerated, as members engaged in a spontaneous group rewrite of Becker's proposal. 

The orally rewritten proposal lessens formerly strident "demands"; the proposal now seeks cooperative meetings with university officials sometime after Fall 2011 but before the end of Spring semester to discuss possible park changes. Members see an advantage to waiting until TBID can line up support from other city organizations (eg. neighborhood associations, other business districts, student groups, and possibly the city council). 

One point of agreement among the businessmen is that no one likes what is happening in People's Park. One member calls the present situation, "criminal neglect." Why, they wondered, is the large south side student population not being served by People's Park? 

Becker focused on changes, like landscaping, that could be accomplished without requiring much deliberation. "We can't let conditions in the park drift," Becker stressed. "It's time we acted." 

Members themselves stated their awareness of the difficulty in affecting either change or revitalization in the park. More than one member, wondered aloud whether the university was even listening. 

But the university heard loud and clear about a proposal from Doris Moskowitz (Moe's Books) to sue the university for "neglecting" the park; and when a vice-chancellor learned that Roland Peterson, the property owners’ spokesman, had contacted a U.C..regent on behalf of the businessmen's park concerns, Peterson received a phone call rebuke. 

More than one businessman wondered why TBID even needed a proposal after an extensive 1996 university-funded marketing study had reflected a consensus (among many factions in Berkeley) for changes in the park . Why not drop TBID's latest proposal altogether? But Becker was able to draw the group back to what he called a "non-controversial, boiled-down" proposal. 

Becker was able to rally his wavering troops with the observation that marketing report proposals were never followed by the university and that as much as he liked those proposals, he could not endorse the report's scheme for tearing down his business (the Med) and making Telegraph a "portal to a redesigned park." 

Becker's proposal "suggests" landscaping changes to make the park more 'inviting." 

Improvements in safety and security by increasing "stay-away" orders, adding emergency phones, security cameras, and halting camping in the park. 

The issue of People's Park reform continues to stir dirt, even when only ideas are involved. 



Ted Friedman reports for the Planet from Berkeley's south side.