Protect Aquatic Park at Wednesday ZAB Meeting

Charlene Woodcock
Tuesday November 07, 2017 - 02:13:00 PM

I hope everyone who cares about this small gem of a park will defend it with your letters and presence at the ZAB meeting this Wednesday. A huge development has been proposed for the site adjacent to the park on the east side. Aquatic Park provides habitat for many birds and a very pleasant respite from urban life with a walk along the lake and an inviting, imagination-inspiring children’s playground, in spite of the nearby freeway. In the past few years several new five-story apartment buildings have been built along University Avenue just a block from the park, adding several hundred new occupants. This alone should be cause to protect and enhance the park, rather than threatening it with a proposal to greatly increase the built density of the adjacent site to the east. From 55,000 square feet to up to 475,000 gross square feet of R&D and office space (in a Mixed-Use Light Industrial zone) and paved parking from 130 spaces to 830. More than 70 carbon absorbing trees would be lost, some of them mature at 30 to 40 feet tall, since the development covers virtually all available space. Obviously, such a large, dense development would totally change the character of the park that runs alongside it, now a tranquil, wooded space enjoyed by families, hikers, rowers, and birders that saves a bit of Berkeley’s natural setting and provides an important bird habitat. It also, importantly, provides resiliency in the face of climate change and sea rise that is what we need in the open areas close to the Bay such as that targeted by the proposed development.