The Heart of Our City
So I want to wrap up my focus on Lake Merritt… we’ve talked about the stunning architecture of the two catholic churches poised at each end of the lake… and we’ve explored the lovely gardens tucked into Lakeside Park. I would be remiss if I failed to mention some other fantastic developments happening around the lake.
In 2002, Oakland voters overwhelmingly passed Measure DD, a $198 million bond measure designated to “improve water quality; provide educational and recreational facilities for children; clean up Lake Merritt; restore Oakland’s creeks, waterfront and estuary; preserve and acquire open space; renovate parks;” and more. And it’s all happening now…
Here’s a summary of the projects around the lake:
1) Lakeside Drive – improvements to Lakeside Drive including installation of bike lane (yes!), new trees & landscaping (yes!), and conversion of the old defunct boathouse office facility into a new lakeside restaurant (yes!) It’s all done folks, and it looks awesome! Here are a few pics of the restaurant, which I haven’t had the chance to check out yet, but it looks like great spot to meet for a bite and a drink after work.
It was opened in August with a ribbon cutting ceremony officiated by Mayor Ron Dellums, celebrating its 100th anniversary. He said, “What a tremendous pleasure to stand here 100 years later and celebrate not only the renovation of these architectural gems, but the restoration of our parks and waterways that our children and grandchildren may enjoy for the next 100 years.”
2) Lakeshore Avenue – improvements to Lakeshore Avenue including installation of bike lanes (yes!), improvements to the recreational trail including a new planting strip designed to buffer it from the roadway (yes!), over 8 acres of renovated planting and irrigation with over 100 new trees installed (yes!), pier reconstruction, and plenty of new seating areas. This too is done, and it looks fantastic!
3) 12th Street -redesign of the current 12-lane expressway at this end of the lake to a slower, scenic boulevard more congruous with the adjacent park setting. To this end, the expressway will be reduced to 6-lane tree-lined boulevard, allowing for construction of a shoreline park, and installation of bike lanes (yes, yes, and yes!) Additionally, the Lake Merritt Channel (waterway that feeds the lake) is going to be improved allowing for greater tidal circulation into the lake. (This project slated to be finished in 2011).
Which reminds me… did you know that Lake Merritt is not a lake at all? It’s actually a tidal lagoon that is fed by the bay. It’s salty! And it’s teeming with life…everything from mussels to 4-inch fish to even small sharks, plenty of delicious food for the large population of birds… all kinds of ducks, geese (watch out for the poop!), coots, gulls, night herons, egrets, pelicans, and more.
And did you know that Lake Merritt is the oldest wildlife refuge in the United States (established in 1870)? It’s true! And it’s smack in the middle of our city… amazing!