Plans for Rockridge BART Plaza on Track

A new look for the area under Rockridge BART station
Sunday, May 8, 2011

Creating attractive and useful public space is never easily or quickly done. Eight years after RCPC first proposed improvements to the area outside the BART station area at Keith and College avenues, an approved redesign of the space is in hand and closer than ever to becoming a reality.

Residents attending the RCPC April Town Hall got an early peek at the most current development plans for the area to be known as BART Plaza. Seen as a destination for BART passengers and College Avenue strollers and shoppers, the area’s design is keyed on the Rockridge name. A variegated line of large stones — “A ridge of rock,” said volunteer designer and Rockridge resident Greer Alley — capped by brawny metal letters spelling the well-known area’s name, will be on the College Avenue side of the plaza area. On the other side, a serpentined concrete bench generally facing Keith Avenue will be positioned to receive as much sunlight as possible. Native grasses and ferns planted at the bases of the existing redwoods will replace the current blanket of ivy.

Public art is also included in the design features. A bronze compass rose set into the sidewalk is planned to be the initial piece to emphasize the sense of location and travel. It will be oriented to areas of interest near and far.

An eight-year-long project is bound to move in fits and starts; this one is no exception. Still, as people interested in the project came and went, it stayed alive, gathering the support of the Rockridge District Association (RDA), the city of Oakland, and BART itself.

One meeting attendee was concerned this latest iteration of the plans was developed without sufficient public participation. Another person, recently learning of the project, said she found it a successful design.

Project presenters Greer Alley, Bob Franklin of BART, Sara Wilson of Market Hall and RDA, and Ann Winterman of RCPC said money for the project and approval for the plans are in place. Franklin, a Rockridge resident and an early project supporter, obtained BART support and funding. Councilmember Jane Brunner’s office developed city funding and RDA, with the support of Sara Wilson of Market Hall, spearheaded merchant money donations and support. In addition to the effort, time and support of board members through the years, RCPC has also donated funds.

The presenters said invitations for bids will be issued soon.