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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: West County shoreline tragedy in the making

West County residents have a little known treasure, which is currently threatened by: "civilization", the remarkable, open air, mixed-use free park, which is known as: "The Albany Bulb and waterfront plateau", which has slowly grown out of an abandoned dump into one of the greatest recreational areas we have in the entire Bay Area.

Now, some misguided folks are trying to destroy this local wonder with sports fields, rules & regulations.

This is a matter of concern for ALL local residents, not only those living or working in Albany!

The Albany City Council has just recently ruled in favor of putting sports fields on The Plateau and to restrict, or eliminate the creation of artworks, prohibit bicycling and other widely endorsed and frequently enjoyed activities on The Bulb, or Plateau areas.

These areas are a mixture of trails, shrubbery, trees, shoreline, weathered concrete and iron rubble and open-air artworks, which, in the opinion of many long-time residents, like myself, should be allowed to continue, exactly as they are today, with art, nature and recreation encouraged to blossom unmanaged, and un-"improved", either by well-meaning, but misguided sports field advocates, or by a few eco-zealots, who incorrectly think that the natural wonders of this spontaneously developing, extremely rare; "free", area are somehow in need of the blundering and heavy hand of municipal government, or that the creation of artworks somehow substantially harms what is already, in fact; an abandoned dump.

It is precisely because these areas have remailed relatively free of meddlers that they have the charm and appeal that they have, which can only be destroyed by the narrow-minded, agenda-ridden, do-gooders in our community! Now that the squatter community has been eliminated, let all the people have the use and enjoyment of this space, in the free spirit which clearly dominates and guides it.

In a society which is, in my opinion, increasingly blighted, rather than improved by the emphasis on team sports for children, this area provides an invaluable opportunity for free-play and adventure, unequalled in our community, or anywhere else, around the bay, the state, or even the nation.

To place sports fields on the plateau, or anywhere near this free-park, would not improve it, or the lives of local children, but more likely, destroy, or severely diminish their ability to benefit from it...

Where else than The Bulb & Plateau, can Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, or Richmond residents, kids and adults alike, fly a kite, launch a model rocket, fly a model airplane, practice mountain biking, build a tree house, scavenge, beachcomb, dig for 'treasure', build with junk, picnic, make a fort, paint rocks, do murals on concrete, or romp with their dogs, without being crowded into a use-specific area?

Speaking for myself and thinking of the kids, who are now born into an increasingly regimented, "safe", predictable world, with few opportunities
to learn how to handle and adapt to unpredicatable, rough, natural, or human environments, we NEED open, "unimproved", spaces without roads, fences, nets, paths, teams, structure, rules, additional parking, or the other aspects of so-called: "sports" areas, or modern parks!

We need places to relax, walk, ride and think, without screaming teams, motor vehicles, junk-food litter and all the other unfortunate and inevitable by-products of team "sports" activities, which owe more to military style institutions and foster competitive, "us-versus-them", type behavior, than do free-play activities which may encourage and build individual character, creativity, learning, or intelligence.

I have taken visitors and friends, from around the world to the Albany Waterfront park, to hike, bike and see the shoreline art of the: "sniff", collective and other unidentified contributers, which is unlike any other place in the entire world, to my knowledge.

Again and again, I am given personal thanks for the wondeful, unprecidented adventures and "felliniesque", experiences, which these folks have had at The Albany Bulb, exactly because it is a spontaneous zone, where folks are free to create and have an unplanned, unstructured adventure, which is all the greater, for the presence of a: "dangerous, unsanitized", environment and of the wondrous, unexpected, unimproved sights and activities, available there for all to enjoy or participate in.

I don't know where you stand on this matter, but if you could possibly contact any Albany City council members, Mayor Peggy Thompson, Vice-Mayor, Jewel Okawachi, councilmember Mario DiPrisco (who thinks the use of artist paints and materials might harm this "delicate ecosystem", aka, the old city dump) or anyone else with influence, or could forward this to any potentially interested individuals, I would greatly appreciate it, your personal comments, as well as those any friends, who might be in support of a sports-free and art-friendly Albany Shoreline/Eastshore Park & Bulb, are urgently requested to make their views known to the powers that be, Albany City Council, the press and make comments on the relevant websites, such as: Eastshorestatepark.org/West County Times: wcletters@cctimes.com, Elcerritowire.com, etc, etc.

With appreciation, Kerry Drew, 48 year East Bay Resident, current resident of El Cerrito.


Run dates: 2002-05-27 - 2002-06-12

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