Friday, August 8, 2008

Asbhy BART Station to Undergo Possible Modernization

Bart Plaza Along Adeline Avenue

BART recently announced that it is holding a public meeting to address potential modernization of the Ashby BART Station. This is an exciting opportunity for the Community to step forward and identify positive ways to improve the Ashby BART Station. The meeting is to address: (1) security; (2) customer convenience; (3) cleanliness; (4) and other priorities.

The meeting will be held on Tuesday August 19th from 6-8 pm at the Philips Temple CME Church on 3332 Adeline Street, Berkeley. For more information you can contact June Garrett, BART Community Relations, 510-464-6257.

Dead Landscaping at West Parking Lot

Hopefully, this process to modernize the Ashby BART Station will not become derailed as was the Ashby BART Task Force that was investigating options for developing the west parking lot, including mixed uses. In addition to the current modernization effort, the east parking lot is being shut down starting August 18th for 18 months to allow for the development of the Ed Roberts Campus.

Planters Serving as Garbage Bins

Clearly, the Ashby BART Station, which was put into operation on January 29, 1973, has suffered from its location in an urban area in South Berkeley. Urban abuse along with significant deferred maintenance leaves us with a station that contributes to the problem of blight in South Berkeley and North Oakland. As with many stations, BART has struggled to keep up with maintenance as its highest priorities are focused on seismic safety and upgrades of the track infrastructure, particularly tunnels and the elevated structures, rather than on the aesthetics and comfort of the stations. The Ashby BART station is a pseudo-classic suburban station model with a sea of parking surrounding the station. The development of the Ed Roberts Campus will push the station towards a more appropriate transit oriented site with higher densities and intensive uses. Arguably, the more intensive uses of the station may counter some of the negative activities that often occur at the Ashby BART Station, such as vandalism, public drunkenness, homeless encampments and crime.

In a recent crime summit between the Oakland, Berkeley and BART Police and local community leaders, Captain Toribio of the Oakland Police Department referred to the Ashby BART Station as a target rich environment. BART Patrons leaving work or going to local music venues such as the Starry Plough and La Pena have been targeted by armed robbers in the past several years. The Crime Summit was intended to facilitate better coordination among the three police departments and local community groups to improve public safety in and around the Ashby BART Station.

Overgrown Weeds Along Tremont Street

As of yesterday, there were several BART Employees fixing the long defunct irrigation and assessing the overall conditions of the station in anticipation of the upcoming meeting.

Some of the improvements that we think should be considered as part of a modernization effort include:
  • Bulb-outs at cross walks approaching the station to facilitate safer pedestrian access. The BART Station is surrounded by major arterials and crossing them is daunting for children and the elderly.
  • Additional bicycle racks to facilitate non-vehicle access to the station. Casual observation indicates that the bicycle racks are heavily used on a day to day basis.
  • Drought tolerant landscaping and replacement of the dead and dying landscaping. Much of the landscaping has died due to poor maintenance practices and damaged sprinkler systems.
  • Installation of additional street trees along the sidewalks along Woolsey and Tremont. Some additional trees may be provided by the Ed Roberts Campus.
  • Removal of chain link fences and replacement with wrought iron fences, particularly along Ashby Avenue. The chain link fences are damaged from people constantly climbing over them and aesthetically they contribute to an appearance of blight.
  • Landscaping of the planters at the westernmost plaza along Adeline Avenue with Japanese Maples or other trees tolerant of being in planters. All of the planters have not been planted for years and simply serve as garbage repositories.
  • Relocation of formal pathways to the location of informal pathways. Some of the landscaping has been destroyed because patrons take the shortest route to the street and do not use the existing sidewalks/pathways.
  • Installation of JC Decaux Kiosks, similar to those in downtown Santa Cruz, at the westernmost plaza along Adeline. The Kiosks could be leased to small vendors, coffee shops, cafes etc. to bring additional life and eyes to the Plaza and Adeline Street. They simply need a water and power source, both of which are readily available at the station.
  • More coordinated and aesthetically pleasing sign program that provides a sense of place to the station. Currently, the signs are outdated, ad hoc or filled with graffiti.
  • Tighter parking controls along Tremont and Woolsey including limiting the parking to a 2 hour limit and eliminating overnight parking. This would minimize the overnight parking of large trucks, campers and those storing inoperable vehicles.
  • A better maintenance program that includes trash, weed and graffiti removal to the curb. For some reason, BART does not provide maintenance outside of its fence line. Most cities, including Berkeley, require that property owners maintain the sidewalk to the curb face.
  • Continued support and participation in the ongoing Crime Summit with Oakland and Berkeley Police.
Of course, there will be many other ideas from the community and there will be limitations on what BART is able to do based on the available funding. Combined with the Ed Roberts Campus, we see this as a great opportunity for South Berkeley and North Oakland. Hopefully, this opportunity will not be squandered like the Asbhy BART Task Force effort.

1 comment:

Raymond Johnson said...

Sorry to leave this in comments, I couldn't find direct contact info on your blog. I've posted some thoughts on the Ashby Station meeting on my blog, with more to come this weekend, at: