Bridge for sale: CESP respondsThis is the response from CESP, probably provoked by my letter to the funding agencies and some City commissions. Does anyone really believe that CESP can isolate its own agenda from the work it proposes to do with public funding?
"Much of this confusion is the fault of CESP, mainly because of our use of the term 'public outreach' in our grant request…"
Now we find that CESP freely admits that their use of the terms "public outreach" and "workshops" in their grant application was in error. Does this mean the grant request was fraudulent? Did CESP really intend to use the money for public outreach and workshops, or what? If CESP misrepresented their intentions, shouldn't the grant be withdrawn?
"Our goal has always been to ensure that there is the maximum public involvement in the planning for the Eastshore State Park."
Keep in mind that this letter is signed by Dwight Steel, same person quoted in the June 7 CESP minutes: "Dwight stated that a proper outreach role for CESP will be drafted and alliances created so that our views can prevail"
"…we want to now make it clear that only those funds from voluntary contributions to CESP will be used in its advocacy and lobbying efforts…"
As if money in one pocket doesn't help with projects that would have otherwise been funded from another. And even the list of tasks "to assist the Park District and State Parks" are clearly in support CESP's agenda. These tasks evidently remain within the scope of the revised grant.
It must be recognized, of course, that CESP's agenda is not an unpopular one. To the casual observer of the waterfront, protected open space and not much else seems like a natural response to overdevelopment and poor access elsewhere along the East Bay shoreline.
However, this judgment is often made in the absence of creative alternatives. This is an urban waterfront on an artificial shoreline alongside a major freeway. A park modeled after wilderness open space is a force fit at best. By ignoring the need to buffer the freeway, the CESP plan paces views from cars above views from the water. It all but precludes active participation in water-related activities (see the deletion of boathouses and related support facilities from CESP's recent markup of the 1986 waterfront plan). The water is what makes the site unique and gives it special value, but to CESP the uses of the water are an afterthought. This shoreline should not be painted with the same broad brush as inland open space.
The big irony here is that just north of the Albany border, the new owner of the race track plans to construct a major commercial development - with a horse racing theme - on the last remaining bit of natural and original East Bay shoreline. This section of shoreline is removed from the freeway and probably deserves the sort of open-space protection being attempted on the Berkeley North Basin Strip. Perhaps there are hidden economic factors at work, or perhaps it's because the race track development isn't likely to block the views from car windows. But on our current course, the result will be commerce and open space where both are least appropriate.