BERKELEY (KPIX) – A playground in Berkeley was crushed by a fallen tree back in February. Now, still unrepaired, some are calling it a “monument to bureaucracy.”
The “Tot Lot” in King Park is designed for children up to 5 years old, but the massive Eucalyptus tree that fell on it took out most of the play equipment. The tree was cut up and removed but it has been 6 months and the area is still fenced off.
The park backs up to King Middle School and those students hang out here during recess, making it tough for the parents and nannies that bring the little ones to play.
“It’s not safe for the smaller ones,” said nanny Tsering Yankui. “So when the school is on break and the big kids come to play here, we have to move to the other side of the park.”
Because the Tot Lot is a safe-play area for little children, neighbors thought it would be fixed quickly. But, at this point, nothing has been touched and a notice posted by the city says it will not be replaced until sometime in 2020.
“I thought by the time school started it would be at least half-way fixed, but it’s not even a little bit,” said King Middle School students Moniva Hussain and Tenaya Vendig. “It looks a little worse. Yeah, it looks like it’s been sitting for a really long time.”
“It’s just city bureaucracy,” added Berkeley resident Chris Costello. “There’s huge potholes that people just forget about.”
But it’s more than just that.
No one from the city would speak with us Monday but the notice says, because the city is filing a claim, any design plans will have to be approved by the insurance company. Complicating things even more is the fact the park sits on is actually school property. That means the entire process will have to be approved by the school district, the City Council, Berkeley Parks and Rec Department, the Building and Planning Department and the State of California’s Division of State Architect.
To the parents and nannies, it sounds like the young children better get used to the big-kids’ playground.
“Yeah, we thought it would reopen very quickly,” said Yankui, “but then, it’s taking a lot of time and it’s quite frustrating, yeah.”
The notice says renovations are coming but it may be a while. Because it also says it won’t be until fall that the city will hold a public meeting to discuss the “possibilities of replacement.”
The city says it is allocating money in next year’s budget to help pay for the renovation. Some of those funds will come from the Measure F Parks Tax passed in 2014.