Teens show their urban planning prowess

Submitted by News Desk on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 11:41am

DEVELOPERS, PLANNERS, city officials and community members have tried for years to devise a cohesive and appealing plan for the area along San Pablo Avenue at the Del Norte BART station in El Cerrito. Now, 10 students from Kennedy High School in Richmond have come up with their own ideas for the area as the culmination of their summer internship in a program sponsored by the West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee.

This is the second year WCCTAC has held the program, which focused "on transportation and urban planning, with an added emphasis encouraging students to examine and explore their own local environment."

Kennedy seniors Alma Cardozo, Maria Esparza, Shantal Perez and Ulumatootua Tavila, and juniors Arnita Brundage, Edward Carmichael, Anyssa Hall, Paige Harris, Daniel Ortiz and Victor Villota Jr. spent nine weeks learning urban planning and design. They did classroom exercises, heard from guest lecturers and used public transit to tour areas of Richmond, El Cerrito, UC Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco.

Together they did a survey of the Del Norte area and compared it to stretches of San Pablo Avenue in Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville and Oakland. They then collaborated on drafting their own proposal for making Del Norte a more vibrant and inviting area for pedestrians and public transit riders.

They showed off their ideas in a presentation at Maple Hall in San Pablo on Aug. 22 to an enthusiastic

audience that included urban planners, City Council members, public transit and other officials from the region.

This year's program was led by WCCTAC project manager Joanna Pallock, and the 10 students were selected "through a highly competitive multistep application process."

WCCTAC is a public entity, and committee members are elected officials from El Cerrito, Hercules, Pinole, Richmond and San Pablo; Contra Costa County; and AC Transit, BART and WestCAT.

WEST COUNTY NOTES: West Contra Costa had strong representation at the Pacific Coast League Reunion held at the Oakland Museum last month. The annual event brings back players and others associated with the league that represented professional baseball on the West Coast for more than a half-century.

El Cerrito High School graduate Ernie Broglio, who pitched for the Oakland Oaks before moving up to the St. Louis Cardinals, was on a panel with Richmond High School grad Bud Watkins, a longtime pitcher for the Sacramento Solons.

Newspaper cartoonist Lee Susman, an El Cerrito resident for a number of years, was officially inducted into the PCL Hall of Fame at the Aug. 23 gathering, and Pinole resident Bill Soto-Castellanos was there with copies of his book about his time as bat boy for the San Francisco Seals in the 1950s.

Also attending was Pumpsie Green, who almost played for the Oakland Oaks in the early '50s, but instead signed with the Boston Red Sox, ultimately becoming that team's first African-American player. Green graduated from El Cerrito High School and still lives in the city.

# The California Honeydrops play New Orleans roots blues and soul music in a free concert from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Memorial Park, 1325 Portland Ave. in Albany.