Best Community Initiative 

Friends of Rockridge-Temescal Greenbelt

"The mermaid is finished!" exclaimed mosaic-tile contractor Monica Zinda. "Hallelujah!" said playground coordinator Eileen Fitz-Faulkner, plopping pieces into a tile octopus on a sandbox wall in North Oakland's cozy Redondo Park. A trashy, seldom-used lot just a year ago, Redondo and nearby Hardy Park have gotten a new lease on life courtesy of FROG, or Friends of Rockridge-Temescal Greenbelt. Home to many seniors and young families, Rockridge and Temescal lack green spaces to break up the concrete continuum. Hardy was pathetic: Smack underneath Highway 24, it was as inviting as a vacant lot. The thirty or so civic-minded folks behind FROG set out to give the two parks a makeover and beautify the ill-maintained corridor that runs between them along Temescal Creek and behind the DMV. It took years of planning, haggling, community infighting, and fund-raising -- FROG has raised well over $100,000 on top of Measure I funds -- culminating in an eleven-day October build that drew some 1,500 volunteers. Much work remains, but the difference is already stunning. The new, expanded Hardy-dubbed "Frog Park" has sunny lawns and, like the remade Redondo, a gorgeous wooden playground. Parts of the connecting corridor have been replanted with trees, shrubs, and flowers, and there are benches where people can sit and enjoy the creek. The response was great, says Fitz-Faulkner, but it's critical that the community keep showing up for FROG's maintenance days (the last one had a poor turnout). "If people don't take care of the parks, then we won't have any more parks like them," she warns.

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