As a fan of open space recreation, I would really be remiss if I didn’t put in my two cents on the low-boiling issue of the Boys and Girls Club‘s request to receive more than half of the $3.6 million Measure WW money allocated to Alameda, for a new facility. People have called this a “difficult” issue to take sides on because who would argue against the goodness of the Boys and Girls Club to the young people of Alameda? However, the issue is not about whether the purpose is noble or not. It’s about what people thought they were voting on, when they did. I know I thought it was for making parks out of those great hills and shorelines we are lucky to have in the East Bay, and for maintaining those parks. Rereading the arguments for and against the measure confirms that—here’s an excerpt:
With Alameda and Contra Costa Counties’ populations growing rapidly, Measure WW is needed to preserve our vanishing open space, available parklands, and shoreline.
Measure WW extends the existing parks bond measure passed by voters in 1988. The 2008 bond extension will not increase your taxes. It has bipartisan support.
The original 1988 ballot measure made possible our current system of parks, thousands of acres of protected open space, and hundreds of miles of trails throughout Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.
All of the revenue from 2008’s Measure WW is local and will stay in our two counties to protect and preserve our parks.
25% of the revenue will fund city parks and recreation departments.
75% will fund regional park acquisitions, open space preservation, new parks and trails for walking, hiking, and biking, environmental maintenance, the rehabilitation of aging park facilities, and wildlife habitat restoration.
Measure WW is also crucial for environmental sustainability. The vegetation in our Regional Parks absorbs the same amount of carbon dioxide that is produced by over 80,000 cars. Voting yes on WW will help us fight global climate change at the local level.
Measure WW will also help protect and renew our urban creeks and ponds, which will enhance the quality of drinking water for our communities.
Note that the only time facilities are mentioned is in “rehabilitation of aging park facilities”—and this is something the city had been planning to use the funds for, before the Boys and Girls Club maneuvered upfront.
Let me be clear: I like the B&G Club of Alameda, and I want them to do well and build their new facility. I don’t think they should do that with EBRPD funds. Step up fundraising? Grant writing? Appeal to corporate partners? I’ll kick in a donation too—if they withdraw their application and let the money go where it was intended to—public parks and recreation.
Here are some of the other projects that would or could be funded instead:
• Resurfacing of Washington Park Basketball courts and tennis courts
• Renovation of Littlejohn Park Recreation Center
• Renovation of Woodstock Park Recreation Center
• Replacement of Krusi Park Recreation Center
• Renovation of Godfrey Park Play Area
• Develop the Beltline property as a park
• Acquisition of Collins property for Estuary park
By the way, Alameda has 2.1 acres of open space per 1,000 residents, while most California cities typically strive for 3 to 6 acres per 1,000 residents (according to this General Plan Amendment document).
To express your views on the matter, write to East Bay Regional park District Grant Manager, Jeff Rasmussen at firstname.lastname@example.org, and copy Alameda City manager Anne Marie Gallant at email@example.com.