October 2, 2008

Parking Lot Project Truly Grassroots Effort

By Town Crier/Ginny Prior

IT DOESN'T COME a minute too soon.

In the wake of yet another accident near Shepherd Canyon Park, work has finally begun on a parking lot expansion at the popular Montclair soccer field.

It was soccer dad Ken Gibson who got the ball rolling on the project with the Shepherd Canyon Homeowner's Association. They got a traffic safety engineer to draw up plans, took them to the city (where, of course, there was no money) and then found pro-bono help to keep the momentum alive.

The Montclair Soccer Club kicked in $30,000 and neighbors collected another $7,000-plus. The Montclair Safety and Improvement Council donated the final 3 percent. Talk about a grassroots effort - - literally -- as a field of weeds and tree stumps is finally transformed into a decent-sized parking lot for the throngs of soccer moms and dads who come to the park each weekend. Thanks to everyone who had a hand in this effort!

SKYLINE SAGA: After months of staring at a graffiti-covered barrier closing one lane of traffic along the 7200 block of Skyline Boulevard, neighbors are finally seeing road repairs.

It didn't hurt that former Mayor and state Attorney General Jerry Brown and his wife live in that block, and pushed hard to get funding for the project. Expect the road to be closed till early December as crews repair the drainage system, relocate utilities and stabilize the site of last winter's mudslides.

UP IN SMOKE: Neighbors near Redwood Park's Skyline Gate say a cigarette may have started a recent 3 a.m. brush fire. The scary blaze spread through the dry vegetation and burned a deck before it was put out by fast-responding Oakland Firefighters. It makes you wonder if some people ever learn. Residents say they often see folks smoking in or near the park -- in defiance of the no-smoking signs in the area.

CRAZY CRIME: What kind of a dope would break into a hills area gas station to steal cigars? A dope on drugs, guesses the manager of Ken Betts Chevron on Redwood Road. Harold McCubbin thinks it was kids who broke the glass in the cashier window in the middle of the night, recently, to steal Swisher Sweets cigars.

"They take the tobacco out and put the marijuana in. That's why we don't sell singles," he says. Despite the obvious risk, the vandals escaped with only $100 in product. "We don't keep cash here so they didn't get anything else."

GETTING SQUIRRELLY: You've heard of a golf handicap? Well reader Sharon Ardoin says her biggest handicap, recently, was trying to play golf with a wild squirrel hanging onto her bag.

"I thought he was going to bite me on the ankles," she says, describing the attack at Monarch Bay Golf Course, where squirrels run freely on the fairways. "He wouldn't leave me alone!" Later, it dawned on her. She'd forgotten about the bag of nuts she'd squirreled away with her spare balls and tees. Now you know the rest of the story.

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by phone at 510-273-9418, by e-mail at [email protected] or on the Web at www.ginnyprior.com.

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