Letter to the Editor: More on park renovation

This is a reply to what was posted as a Letter to the Editor on the Glen Park Association blog. It was written by Glen Park resident Stephen Labovsky, who gave his reasons for going before the Appeals Board to halt the removal of eucalyptus trees on Alms Road in order to enlarge the playground and relocate the tennis courts:

Steven is indeed, as a former advertising copy writer, a spinner of tales and just plain old spin. He can pick out this detail or that but the reality of the whole process was that those of us that did attend it all, was that the majority were in favor of what was proposed. At some meetings there were a few dissenters as there will always be but they never made their case. And importantly, their case was not made before the Board of Appeals on November 14th. At that hearing, the people that were against the stoppage of the project were mostly parents of young children. They wanted the new playground to be there for them. The decision to reject the stoppage was 4 to nothing.

A stoppage now would mean that the whole process pretty much starts over with a re-juggling of all the components. AND when that new process nears completion, again just one dissenting petition stops it. Again

The fixation this time is a few Eucalyptus trees at the beginning of Alms road. Out of how many of them in the park? Hundreds? Tens of hundreds? (There is in fact a debate about other trees in the park but this is not about that. This is another issue.) What will be the fixation be on a new go-around?

For some I think, the whole point IS the argument. And for them, the longer it or any argument for that matter goes on, the better. That’s why I hesitated
to get into this one and I don’t think I’ll continue any more with it.

Except one last comment:  Mr. Labovsky presumes to fathom what my innermost thoughts are and presumes reluctance on my part to express them.  He may rest assured that I was speaking for myself.

Michael Waldstein



Filed under Uncategorized

13 responses to “Letter to the Editor: More on park renovation

  1. Stephen Labovsky

    I’m sorry to see that my friend MIchael Waldstein has given Rec & Park’s Glen Canyon Park Improvement Plan such a ringing and unequivocal endorsement. Not even our very own Glen Park Association is prepared to go that far.

    The GPA board met on October 30th and, I am quoting from their minutes, “The board believes it should not take any formal position on the Glen Park Recreation Center Improvement Plan building permit appeal filed on October 15, 2012”.

    There is no plausible explanation for this curious turn of events, other than I suspect there just might be something about the plan that troubles our very own elected officials. Why else would the board not back Rec & Park’s position?

    Perhaps they too would just like to see Rec & Park’s ‘Plan’ go away so we can start over and make sure the money for the project is better spent, if and when the Plan is reconsidered.

    Which would leave my friend Michael Waldstein way out on a limb— pun intended!

    • Mic

      Stephen’s imagination doesn’t leave room for the possibility that the GPA board chose not to take a position on the appeal for one simple reason – it lacked any legal basis whatsoever. The Board of Appeal’s 4-0 decision bears that out. By the way, the board won’t be taking a position on the appeal of the appeal either.

      One other thing, Stephen. I would like to think that as mature adults we can all exchange our opinions without resorting to personal attacks or innuendos impinging other’s integrity or motivations. Thanks in advance for your cooperation.

      • Stephen Labovsky

        Since this controversy first came to the fore, I’ve heard a lot of arguments, both for and against the Rec & Park’s Plan . I might not agree with those who want the RPD plan to go forward, but I respect their views and defend there right to say it.

        But I have little respect for someone who excuses the GPA board’s gutless non-decision by saying “it lacked any legal basis whatsoever.”
        That Mic is just plain double-talk.

        One doesn’t need a ‘legal basis’ to have an opinion, only the courage of one’s conviction. So you need to either explain what the heck your talking about, or recuse yourself for this very serious conversation.

  2. Barne

    Michael Waldstein: There never was a vote, so you can’t say that “the majority were in favor of what was proposed.” But there were plenty of complaints about those meetings, and people walked out of the meetings in disgust. People wanted a renovated rec center; instead they got new and unwanted landscaping which was not discussed at the meeting, and they got tennis courts moved to precisely where 11 of the most pristine trees in the park are. Everyone wants the renovation, they just want the existing trees to be incorporated into the design rather than chopped down.

  3. Dolan Eargle

    Waldstein speaks for himself/. Mr. Labosky speaks for many (most) of us–the trees cannot speak for themselves, except to shade us and entertain us. Waldstein does not speak truth, he speaks a very narrow version of insight–oops, narrowsight.
    -dolan eargle

  4. Dolan Eargle

    To any and all who believe that Stephen Labosky is only a minority–you are kidding yourselves. He speaks not only for himself alone–he speaks for me and for the 9, nay, dozens of trees that have been there a lot longer than any of the writers of ignorant concepts.
    -dolan eargle

  5. mrf

    It was obvious from the plans made public on this very blog that trees would be in jeopardy with many of the proposed designs.

    I don’t object to people using this forum, or any forum to raise their objections on behalf of the trees. I do object to the tactic of postponing construction though last minute appeals.

    There was a long time frame for people to post signs at the park, contact their supervisor, petition parks and rec, get news coverage, etc. Instead a last minute appeal was the first I personally heard from the tree lovers.

    • Stephen Labovsky

      Dear Mr. mrf

      Allow me to disabuse you of the idea that filing an appeal is holding up what had been heretofore decided. Going to the SF Board of Appeals is actually part of the process—that’s why they’re— it’s called democracy. It’s popular to call ‘us’ obstructionist, but you obviously haven’t read the details of what we filed with the Board. Here are the broad points:

      !. We absolutely want to see a new and better playground.
      2. We absolutely want a new and safer drop-off point for kids.
      3. We do without reservation want improvements to the Rec Center.

      What we don’t want is to see is Alms Road paved over, and dozens of grand old trees cut down.

      If nothing is done, Rec & Parks will be wasting literally millions of dollars building new tennis courts, and to what end? I wager if this were your own money you wouldn’t be doing it. So why should Rec. & Park be a big shot with yours and my money?

      I liken their scheme to ‘feeding the horses so the swallows can eat.”

      But most of the folks that have had a look at RPD’s plan, think their grand scheme stinks, and I’ve yet to have anyone successfully argue this matter on it merits, and not just its emotions.

      • Anonymous

        I’d like to return to a comment made in Michael W.’s Nov. 27 letter to the editor here about this discussion being fixated on a few trees at the beginning of Alms Road. It seems important to me to view those specific trees as significant in that they lead into the deeper recesses of the park in a way that the playing fields and tennis courts and rec center do not. Without them, the preserved natural parts of the canyon are cut off from the neighborhood. Unpaved Alms Road (as sentimentally named as it is!), with the canyon slope on one side and those pesky trees on the other, is hugely important to those who might approach the canyon to lose themselves in its natural attributes rather than to use it for its recreational facilities (tennis, playground equipment, basketball courts, playing fields). Lose that approach, or lose a significant aspect of that approach anyway, and it seems to me that you essentially box off what is one of the true charms, perhaps the most significant charm, of Glen Park.

        There are nice restaurants and tennis courts all over town. But there aren’t too many natural landscapes like this one. I’m in favor of really struggling against seeing it trimmed back in favor of more constructed spaces.

        Sorry to those who wish this debate had happened and concluded sooner, but as Stephen observed in his letter that kicked off this recent exchange of opinions, you don’t miss what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. And sometimes you don’t become exercised about a bad thing until it’s really looming and staring you in the face. The current debate helps bring the issue into focus for everybody involved — those like me too lazy or distracted to pay attention early on and those who still have a say in what has not yet become a done deal. Until the chainsaws and bulldozers come, I think the debate can and should continue.

  6. Anonymous

    Sorry, didn’t mean to remain anonymous with that comment just posted. Should have signed it. /s/ Eric Whittington.

  7. dolan eargle

    Clearly, Michael Waldstein does not only disagree with Stephen Labovsky’s arguments–he does not know the subject.  Waldsteins’ arguments are  clearly personal scolding.  Waldstein:  get a life–with trees. -Dolan Eargle


  8. elizabethweise

    ALL OF YOU. Personal attack stop, NOW, or I turn off comments to the blog.

    • Glen’s rant about Albert is totally on topic. I cemlpainod about Scott near Parkdale on May 11. I received an auto-respond e-mail on May 17. I responded on June 1 asking if I would be informed when work was carried out. Still haven’t heard back.

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