Tag: vote

You should vote for Elizabeth Echols for East Bay Regional Park District Board

The race for the East Bay Regional Park District representative generally doesn’t get much attention, especially in a critical election year. With a Sierra Club endorsement, a long history of environmental activism and a career as an environmental trial attorney, you’d think Norman La Force would be a shoo-in for Ward 1, which includes Emeryville, Berkeley, Albany, El Cerrito, Richmond, El Sobrante, Kensington, and parts of Pinole and San Pablo. That’s how our Berkeley/Richmond demographic usually votes, especially on a down-ballot race where the Sierra Club endorsement is all we need to see. But Norman is spending a lot of his own money to win this seat (after losing to Whitney Dotson in 2008 and then being passed over in favor of Echols after Dotson resigned due to failing health). There is a large group of park advocates concerned with the future of our East Bay Regional Parks trying very hard to stop Norman La Force.

Please take a closer look, especially at the endorsements from the people most likely to understand what is at stake: Elizabeth Echols, currently serving on the Park District Board, is endorsed by EVERY other Park District board member. LaForce is not endorsed by any of them.

The contrast between the two candidates is stark: Elizabeth Echols has not alienated trail hikers and mountain bikers by limiting access to fire trails. She has not argued with dog owners over new dog parks, off-leash areas, and beach access. She has never opposed new sports fields or blocked new launch sites for kayaks and windsurfers. She
has not forced the Berkeley High Women’s Rowing Team out of Aquatic Park. And she has not filed a lawsuit that delayed an important link of the Bay Trail west of the racetrack for two years because part of the plan would also improve access for dog owners to Albany Beach.

Elizabeth Echols supports people in our parks, especially the urban waterfronts and other park areas close to population centers. We need board members who want people to use our parks and interact with wildlife, not fence it off. We need parks that encourage the human experience of nature. On our shorelines, we need facilities that invite everyone to experience the waters of the Bay first-hand. We especially need waterfront park policies that encourage facilities for inexpensive water access, especially for people who can’t afford a boat in the marina, or who don’t have garage or driveway space to store a small hand-launched kayak or paddleboard at home.

The best, the biggest, and the most natural and undisturbed open space resource we have in the Bay Area is the Bay itself. Shoreline parks should be gateways for everyone to have access to the Bay, access that involves more than just looking at the Bay from the shore. We can have this access, but we need a balanced approach to determining the allowable uses on the parklands of the urban shoreline.

Protected open space, on land and water, is important where it

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Frankford splits vote on Culver Lake Golf Course renovation plan

Kyle Morel
| New Jersey Herald

FRANKFORD — For the second time in the past four months, the Township Committee failed to pass a resolution Tuesday to allocate $50,000 in open space funding to renovate Culver Lake Golf Course. 

The Greater Culver Lake Watershed Conservation Foundation, an organization created to create the environment surrounding the lake, had sought funds to turn the 92-acre property on East Shore Culver Road into a space for hiking, biking, bowhunting and other outdoor activities.

The vote at Tuesday’s meeting was 2-2, with Nick Civitan and Deputy Mayor Jim Ayers for the measure and Sam Castimore and Ed Risdon against. Mayor Chris Carney abstained because he lives near the property.

Foundation President Rick Ferruggia said the group’s proposal had been “very well-received” from the lake community and other township residents. He said he envisioned the renovated property as a spot that would showcase the natural beauty of Sussex County and entice others to visit or move to the area.

Aside from the $50,000 from open space, Ferruggia said, “there won’t be one dime on the taxpayers of Frankford,” with the state’s Green Acres program and other grants funding the rest of the project and future maintenance.

Castimore said Frankford residents would still partially fund the project through their tax payments each year.

“What you’re saying is it’s not paid for by the taxpayer, but Green Acres funds is taxpayer money,” he told Ferruggia. “So you kind of hide behind the veil of, ‘it’s free,’ but it’s not free money.”

Ferruggia said about 70 residents sent letters in support of the proposal. Castimore said he has spoken to plenty of residents who oppose it. 

“I guess the people that I talk to would rather see their taxes go down and don’t (want to) buy things that cost more money down the road,” Castimore said. 

The Township Committee voted the same on the renovation as they did on Tuesday. The foundation modified its proposal since in the hope it would pass on the second try. 

The three members of the public who spoke on the matter Tuesday, along with Ferruggia, said they support the project and see a potential benefit for the township.

“We very much are in favor of the foundation and their proposal. We think it’s the best-case scenario,” said Ralph Smith, president of the Normanoch Association of homeowners in the Culver Lake neighborhood. “I hate to see it go as a golf course, but I think hiking trails and the natural area would be wonderful for our township — a great asset.”

Danae Dotz, secretary of Frankford’s Lake Owassa Community Association, read a letter stating the association’s full support of the project and requesting the township approve the resolution.

“Preserving this important tract of land for walking, hiking, snowshoeing and other forms of recreational use for the residents of Frankford Township could not be more timely in this era of COVID-19, where additional options for outdoor activities are of the greatest value,” Dotz read.

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