Yesterday the guardians of Berkeley’s myriad pedestrian paths and steps celebrated the dedication of the city’s 100th pathway.
The opening of Northgate path, which connects Shasta Road to Northgate Avenue, followed nearly a year of hard work — involving both physical labor and negotiations with neighbors and the city’s planning department.
Like many of the pathways resurrected by Berkeley Path Wanderers Association, Northgate was identified as a right of way by the city many decades ago, but never developed.
Berkeley Path Wanderers President Colleen Neff says it took 40 volunteers, 18 weekend work-parties and two Eagle Scouts groups installing 25 steps each to complete the project. “Where there was once a fence and brambles on a hillside, there is now a path with views of the Bay, handrails for safety and a quicker route down (and up) to town,” she says. A video on the BPWA website shows volunteers building steps and cutting through a guardrail during the construction phase.
Keith Skinner, Berkeley Path Wanderers’ board member in charge of organized walks, says the steep site, which was often wet also, made for difficult working conditions. He estimates there are 200 steps on the finished path.
Creating the new pathway also involved talking with a neighbor whose property encroached on the route. An easement was agreed upon and approved by the city. “The adjacent neighbors were wonderfully supportive of the new path and helped out our work crews,” says Neff.
At the dedication Sunday, Councilmember Susan Wengraf cut the ribbon and cake was consumed.
The only niggling question is how Northgate path can be referred to as number 100 when Berkeley Path Wanderers’ own map shows about 130 completed paths? Gary McDole, an astute and dedicated Path Wanderer, explains the anomaly: Northgate will be the 100th path in the city-wide system of named and numbered paths, he says. When counted only by name, Northgate makes an even 100. That, says Neff, was reason to celebrate.