By DONNA BETH WEILENMAN
MARTINEZ, Calif. – The family of beavers that made its home in Alhambra Creek may have left Martinez after the loss of this year’s kits and an older yearling brother.
But a mural proposed for a bridge near their damsite near Marina Vista Avenue would commemorate their years in Martinez, illustrate the value of Alhambra Creek beyond a place where some people throw trash, and serve as a reminder of a time of collaboration by hundreds of people with varying points of view.
That’s what Heidi Perryman told the Martinez Parks, Recreation, Marina and Cultural Commission Tuesday, Nov. 17. Perryman is a founder of Worth a Dam, a grassroots organization that advocated for the beavers that some Martinez residents wanted to kill before their dam flooded the downtown business district.
Instead, after a 2007 City Council meeting was attended by 200 to 300 people, solutions were proposed that allowed installation of a device that would allow creek water to flow despite the beaver dams.
However, earlier this year, the corpses of several of the 2015 litter of kits were found, and another sickly kit later died during treatment. California Fish and Wildlife specialists oversaw necropsies on the little animals, but no cause of death could be determined, Perryman said.
During a recent desilting of the creek, city employees said they discovered little evidence that the adult beavers remained in Alhambra Creek.
Perryman herself told the commission it’s likely the adults left after the creek became an inhospitable place for them to live.
However, the animals’ years in the creek need to be remembered and memorialized with a mural, she urged.
Besides the animals themselves, the mural would be a reminder of the creek as a biodiverse wildlife neighborhood and of a time a large group of people came together and worked to find a compromise that would allow the beavers to live in the Martinez downtown.
During their stay, the animals became an attraction and an icon of the shopping area.
Perryman said the mural could be placed on the 28-foot bridge for about $6,000, and offered to split the cost between the City of Martinez and Worth a Dam.
The Commission took the proposal under advisement and referred it to one of the panel’s subcommittees for further discussion.
In another matter raised by residents, the commission has scheduled two workshops on establishing a dog park in Martinez.
The first will be at 6:30 P.M. Dec. 9 at Martinez City Hall, 525 Henrietta St., at which those attending will hear an overview of the efforts to get a dog park established and the basics of starting a dog park. Time will be allowed for discussion of possible locations for a park in Martinez.
The second, at 6:30 p.m. Jan 13 at City Hall, will cover a review of the results of the first workshop, the evaluation of possible park sites, cost and maintenance of a park and the next steps toward founding a park.
Rick Marazzani, one of the residents pressing the city to get the park built, reminded the panel that park advocates have spent hours researching and formulating a proposal for the park, which he said he has sent to outgoing City Manager Rob Braulik.
Additional public art could come to Martinez, with painters using utility boxes as their canvases.
The idea is that vandals would be less likely to tag the painted utility boxes, and that would reduce the likelihood of graffiti, recreation coordinator Barbara Patchin said.
However, ownership of the utility boxes must be determined before artists are sought to paint them, she said.
“We have to get permission to paint them,” she said. Once that permission is obtained, she said, the City Council would be asked to approve a stipend for the artists.
Among staff reports, the panel heard that a council subcommittee on pickleball courts has recommended re-striping one tennis court at Hidden Valley Park on Center Avenue for dual purposes, to let pickleball players have a court on which to play their game as well.
Picxleball players would have priority from 5-7 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and 8:30 a.m. to noon Fridays and Saturdays, the subcommittee recommended.
In addition, the subcommittee has proposed such long-range projects as building six to eight pickleball courts with suitable lighting and parking, possibly at Hidden Valley Park. A source of funding for the construction needs to be found, the subcommittee has recommended.