Opinion: Please support a senior activity area in Ohlone Park

In its redesign of Ohlone Park, Berkeley should include an outdoor gathering space where seniors can exercise and take classes.

Berkeley seniors have a wonderful opportunity in the next few weeks to support space in Ohlone Park for a variety of senior activities: exercise, classes, music, and more.

The section of Ohlone Park immediately east of the North Berkeley Senior Center will be completely redesigned with current bond monies. The design consultants for the city of Berkeley, BASE, have put forward a number of schemes for the park that include new playgrounds, a garden surrounding Jean LaMarr’s Ohlone mural as well as new art by LaMarr, new plantings and furniture and more.

What’s missing is a space dedicated to senior activities. Members of the North Berkeley Senior Center (NBSC) advisory council and the center staff were enthusiastic about the concept of a space for seniors when Friends of Ohlone Park  (FOOP) suggested it two years ago. This would be an easily accessible space near the senior center, which is only 200 feet from the park. And it would be available for community participation.

A dedicated senior activity area would be a first for Berkeley parks

A senior activity area, as simple as a 30’ x 30’ permeable smooth surface could be placed near, and to the rear, of the playgrounds in what is known as Scheme Two. Most likely adult use would happen while children are in school or daycare so there would be a minimal conflict of uses.

schematic design for Ohlone Park
Scheme 2 for Ohlone Park. Image: BASE

The city of Berkeley and BASE are accepting comments on the proposed designs through April 9. People do not have to select one of the other schemes but can choose different elements from each design.

If you support the concept of a senior activity area please send a note to Jesus Espinoza, the city parks assistant civil engineer at JEspinoza@cityofBerkeley.info

Please cc Friends of Ohlone Park in your note to help them know that community input is being incorporated into the final plans. berkeleyfoop@gmail.com

There will be an additional community meeting sometime in April or May where the designers will present a revised design that incorporates public comment.

Bernard Marszalek lives one block from the North Berkeley Senior Center. He was a member of the Friends of Ohlone Park coordinating committee from 2016 to 2019 and organized the history pavilion at the 50th Anniversary of Ohlone Park in 2019.