OAKLAND -- Glenview neighbors filled dozens of paper recycling bags with weeds and trash during the Park Boulevard Median Cleanup and Planting Day.

On May 31, the bags were loaded and hauled away in trucks by the city of Oakland's Public Works Department, which supports citywide cleanup efforts through its "Adopt a Spot" program.

About 60 volunteers showed up between 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. to spruce up and replant the Park Boulevard median strip, a 1.5-mile stretch from Highway 580 up to Hollywood Street.

Renee Lafrenz, a board member with Keep Oakland Beautiful, said this is the second year she's volunteered for the beautification day, which is sponsored by Glenview Neighborhood Association (GNA).

"It's a way to beautify and give back to the community," said Lafrenz, who lives nearby.

Allyson Hance, a member of GNA, has volunteered for the cleanups numerous times and wishes more people would come out.

"More hands would make it easier, it's a lot of work," said Hance, as she wrestled the overgrowth at the May 31 work party.

Robert Kennedy, senior supervisor with the city's Parks and Recreation Department, said the long-term goal for the Park Boulevard median is to retrofit the irrigation system to be more in line with EBMUD requirements. That involves switching from a "bubbler head" to a drip irrigation system, which would reduce overall water usage.

"We also have a test pilot on the median stretch near Hampel Street where we put sheet mulching covered with light colored chips to suppress weeds and retain moisture, and planted society garlic, gazanias and day lilies," Kennedy said.

He said by next year the city would have a better idea of how successful the test pilot is and whether there is funding to move ahead with upgrading the remaining stretches of the median. He said improved irrigation and weed suppression would mean less maintenance work for city staff and volunteers alike.

GNA board member and chief organizer of the May 31 event was Carol Heard, a third-generation Glenview resident. Her grandparents moved to a home in Glenview in 1911, where Heard grew up and still lives today. She said GNA paid for the soil, mulch and plants, while Public Works provided street safety cones, safety vests and hauling for the cleanup.

"We bought 40 bags of mulch, 30 bags of soil and 10 flats of gazanias," Heard said. Gazanias are hardy plants that can endure drought conditions and still produce bold-color, daisylike flowers from summer to frost.

The current Park Boulevard median strip beautification project began in 2003 when the city installed an irrigation system and a major planting was completed in 2004, according to Sharon Morris with GNA.

"We've tried to keep it going ever since," said Morris at the event. "Like any garden, it always needs work and refurbishing. It's a neighborhood labor of love."

On May 31, surrounding neighborhoods also pitched in to help Glenview residents yank the stubborn weeds, La Farine bakery in the Dimond District provided French pastries and District 5 Councilman Noel Gallo came with a team of volunteers to chip in.

Amy Reber and Jenna Whitman moved to their own home on Park Boulevard last year after renting in downtown Oakland.

"We live right across the street," said Reber, who was planting yellow gazanias on the median. "So this is like our front yard."

FYI
Through Oakland's "Adopt A Spot" program, individuals and organizations have adopted nearly 400 sites around the city for beautification, including shorelines, trails and other public spaces. The city Public Works Department supports these efforts with tool lending, debris collection and technical assistance.
For more information visit http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Government/o/PWA/o/FE/s/VO/index.htm.
For more information on the Glenview Neighborhood Association visit http://glenviewneighbors.com/index.html.