April 9, 2017 | Fountain and Walk: A few updates

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Friends and neighbors:

A few updates to share about goings on at the Fountain at The Circle and Fountain Walk:

Bollard repairs/improvements — An accident during a rainstorm in February led to two of the bollards that surround and protect the fountain being knocked over by a vehicle. The fountain was not damaged. The two broken bollards have been replaced, and FOFW volunteers (that’s Scott Dunlap, left, and Leo Rainer) recently took the opportunity to clean, adjust and repaint the chains that link the circle of bollards.

The February accident was the second within the past year in which a vehicle knocked over a few of the protective bollards. The good news is that the barrier did its job each time. But it is also a reminder everyone who passes through The Circle — and there are many thousands of us each day — to slow down just a bit, especially in bad weather.

Speaking of traffic — On March 15, District 5 Councilmember Sophie Hahn hosted a community meeting about traffic on Marin. It was a chance for people who live on or near the street to discuss some of the changes that have been made in recent years, how they are working out, and what other traffic-control changes people would like to see.
Some of the ideas were quite imaginative (making Marin one-way going up from The Circle to Grizzly Peak), but there several more practical ideas, too. About The Circle specifically, some suggestions put forth were: installing traffic-calming bumps or “tables” in the road; new signs instructing drivers to yield to traffic already in The Circle; putting a stop sign at every entry (rather than some with yield signs).
The city traffic engineer was on hand and took notes. It is not certain what, if anything might come of the suggestions made. FOFW will aim to stay abreast of any developments affecting The Circle, but you can inquire directly with Sophie (SHahn@cityofberkeley.info) or city Transportation Manager Farid Javandel (FJavandel@CityofBerkeley.info).
Improvements on the way — Two key improvements to the fountain island in the center of The Circle are planned for this summer.
The first is the installation of new doors to the vault that contains the pumping system for the fountain. These new doors will be lighter and open more easily, allowing city workers and FOFW volunteers to access the works without endangering themselves. The city hopes they will be installed by June or July.
The second is a project to reroute storm water runoff to the city sewer system from storm drains, where it now empties. This is a requirement of state law to prevent runoff containing contaminants from draining into creeks and the bay. To do so will require some digging on the island around the fountain, probably over the course of a few weeks. That project may also take place in June or July.
Other potential improvements — The city has proposed spending some funds designated for improvements to parks to sprucing up landscaping and lighting around The Circle and along Fountain Walk. A community meeting to discuss options was held March 18.
No final plan emerged from that meeting, but in general, on The Circle, the idea is to replace the sod on the island, on parking strips and along the surrounding balustrade with some new planting. It seems likely that whatever is done will hew fairly closely to the current design of drought-tolerant sod and boxwood hedge.
The main idea for Fountain Walk is to improve lighting, so it is safer to walk on after dark. Various lighting schemes are being studied; the primary aim is to keep whatever is chosen from intruding on the homes of neighbors along the walk.  Other possibilities for improvement include replacing the handrails along the walk (possibly with railings that could double as a lighting system), and installing permanent drip irrigation to replace the temporary system now being used.
Funding for these improvements is not yet approved; they will be proposed for the city’s new budget year, which begins in July.
Whatever does happen, FOFW will continue to do all it can to ensure, by working closely with the City of Berkeley, that our neighborhood landmarks are well cared for. You can help do so by contributing your time as a volunteer (find out how here) or making a tax-deductible donation (here) to our nonprofit organization.
Many thanks to all those who already are Friends of the Fountain and Walk.
— Michael Gray for the FOFW board of directors
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