ConnectOrinda Plans to Bring Together Orinda’s Two Downtowns

0
62
SALLY HOGARTY
Bridget Zayner had her electric bike on display at ConnectOrinda. She drives the vehicle to BART to commute to her job in San Francisco. Her 197-pound “BART Mobile” can carry her three children and six bags of groceries. “Given the parking situation at BART, we had to think out-of-the-box,” she says.

    Over 50 people helped kick off the launch of ConnectOrinda on Oct. 13 at the Orinda Library Plaza. The event began at 10 a.m. with welcoming speeches by Mayor Amy Worth, Vice Mayor Inga Miller and City Councilmember Eve Phillips. Café Teatro provided refreshments for the assemblage who were also shown drawings of various preliminary ideas for downtown Orinda.
    ConnectOrinda is a city-led process seeking residents’ ideas to identify streetscape and transportation projects that beautify, improve travel through, and preserve the uniqueness of, downtown Orinda. Eisen/Letunic, a Berkeley company specializing in livable communities, sustainable transportation and a healthy environment, is the consulting firm for ConnectOrinda with Victoria Eisen as project manager.
    “When I was growing up in Orinda, we walked to school and residents connected more easily as they drove or walked around the town,” said Vice Mayor Inga Miller. “Now that we’re more car-centric, we’ve lost some of that feeling of community. We are asking residents to help us figure out how to bring that back with a more pedestrian-friendly downtown.”
    To facilitate community involvement, the Oct. 13 event included scavenger hunts for young children and teens that were developed with input from the Orinda Teen Advisory Council. Several walking tours also took place. Landscape architect and urban planner John Gibbs, principal at WRT, an Oakland-based urban design firm, led the tour through the Village while Ryan McClain, principal at Fehr and Peers, a Walnut Creek-based transportation planning firm, led the tour of the Theatre District and around the BART station. Members of Save Orinda and the Orinda Historical Society served as volunteer docents along the way. The day ended with free ice cream, courtesy of Loard’s Ice Cream, back at the Library Plaza where the winners of the scavenger hunt were announced. Surveys were available for people to fill out at the event. Surveys can also be accessed by going to http://connectorindasurvey.fehrandpeers.net.
    The city also envisions “pop-up” temporary, experimental demonstration projects in the coming months that will let the public experience and the city evaluate some ideas suggested at the launch. The project team will distill the feedback from the launch, surveys and the pop-ups into three to five sets of projects that will be presented to the public in early 2019.
    The final stage of the project involves distilling reactions to the sets of projects into a single set of recommendations for the Village, Theatre District and connections between them and the BART station. These will be presented to the public in late spring 2019.
    For further information on the project, go to www.cityoforinda.org/connectorinda.    

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.