Work crews are engaged in an intensive maintenance project today (Wednesday, Dec. 28) in the western part of People’s Park in an effort to provide students and the broader community with safer, more sanitary conditions.
The effort, which began this morning and is expected to be finished by the end of the day, will trim hedges, trees and foliage, improve visibility and help reduce a rat population that resides in heavy plant cover in the park.
Focusing on the western portion of the park, maintenance workers will clear the heavy vegetation now crowding sidewalks and other areas. Ed Denton, vice chancellor for facilities services at UC Berkeley, said that members of the campus community and owners of local business have long expressed concerns about the appearance of the park and its growing rat population.
“Our goal is to make the park and surrounding areas as safe as possible, and removing certain plants and vegetation to improve visibility through the park is a key step in that direction,” said Denton. “This is an important effort for our students and the community in general.”
Work crews will replace some removed vegetation with seeding for smaller plants that consume little water and are decorative. These will include native grasses and flowers such as the California poppy.
The overall look of the park itself will not change — the stage, benches, community gardens and other features will remain intact. An overhead arbor structure that is heavily covered with vegetation will be removed. The goal, according to Denton, is to conduct a full day’s worth of routine heavy park maintenance work during a relatively slow period during the academic year. Additional, incremental improvements will take place over the next couple of months. These will include adding new trash cans and more lights, installing wire mesh at the stage to discourage rats, fixing drainage and improving the compost bin to discourage rats.
People’s Park, owned by UC Berkeley, is located a few blocks south of the central campus. It is bounded by Bowditch Street, Haste Street and Dwight Way.