Pleasant Hill Mayor's Message by Tim Flaherty
Summer is in the rear view mirror, but I still feel the pain of our community from the untimely passing of two stalwarts of public service --Don Flaskerud, on May 22, and Martin Nelis, on August 2. Our loss remains tangible but perhaps not quite as raw as each passing day pushes us forward. We recognized Don and Martin’s indelible mark on our community at the 14th Annual Community Service day on September 22. Don and his wife, Norma, have been part of our service day from the very beginning. For all 14 years, they donated the ingredients for the kick-off pancake breakfast, so ably cooked by the Pleasant Hill Lions Club. Martin ably mentored the Civic Action Commission in producing this successful event since 2007. Although the absence of Don and Martin was palpable, the memory of their dedication to service to others motivated our large crew of volunteers to spread throughout the city and work on many different clean-up projects. It was another successful day of community building constructed on the foundation laid by these two remarkable men.
Back to School
The end of summer also gives way to Back to School nights, and by the time you read this, the new school year will be well under way. You will undoubtedly have noticed the increased traffic around our schools during morning drop off and afternoon pick up times. Making sure kids get to and from school safely is everyone’s business. When it comes to safe routes to school, think of the 3 E’s – education, enforcement and engineering.
Education Street Smarts Diablo provides a wealth of programs and information for parents, students, and schools. This fall, students at Sequoia, Gregory Gardens, and Pleasant Hill elementary schools will be treated to special, grade-appropriate assemblies. Grades K-2 will learn how to be safe around traffic from Beeps, an animated robot, while students in grades 3-5 will learn the rules of the road for bicycling and the importance of wearing a helmet while riding bikes, scooters and skateboards. Middle schools have their own educational outlet with “Walk and Roll to School Day.” Sequoia Middle School’s “Walk and Roll” day takes place Oct. 11, while Valley View Middle School is set to do the same in late April. (Note: other schools may be scheduling similar programs in the future.)
Street Smarts Diablo is provided through 511 Contra Costa, which is sponsored by all Contra Costa cities, including Pleasant Hill. To learn about these programs and for other safety tips, go to streetsmartsdiablo.org.
Enforcement The Pleasant Hill Police Department monitors traffic safety around schools during school commute hours, with a focus on increasing awareness of “distracted driving” and pedestrian safety. They look for drivers who are using mobile devices, speeding in school zones, illegally passing school buses, failing to yield at crosswalks, and any other violations that may put bicyclists and pedestrians at risk.
Engineering There are three roadway enhancement projects in the design phase that will improve access and safety for neighborhood traffic -- cars, bikes and pedestrians. All three projects are funded primarily with federal/state/county transportation grant funding secured by the city.
· Pleasant Hill Road Improvement Project (Taylor Boulevard to Gregory Lane) -- Project highlights include new bike lanes, repairs to existing sidewalks, traffic signal improvements (at Taylor Boulevard, Westover Drive, and Gregory Lane intersections), new street lighting, pavement rehabilitation, striping, and landscaping. The project is expected to break ground in summer 2019
· Gregory Lane/Elinora Drive Traffic Signal Installation Project --This project consists of installing a new traffic signal and crosswalk at the intersection of Gregory Lane and Elinora Drive, which will greatly improve safety for vehicles and pedestrians crossing Gregory Lane. The new signal will connect to the sidewalk recently constructed along the east side of Elinora Drive (between Gregory Lane and Gladys Drive) in 2017. The new traffic signal is expected to be installed in summer 2019.
· Contra Costa Boulevard Improvement Project (Viking Drive to Harriet Drive) -- This project includes new curb/gutter/sidewalk, bike lanes, traffic signal replacement (at Taylor Boulevard), pavement rehabilitation, striping, LED street lights, and landscaping. The project construction is tentatively scheduled for summer 2020.
Introducing our new School Resource Officer
I’m pleased to say that we have brought back the school resource officer, thanks to a partnership between Pleasant Hill Police and the Mt. Diablo School District. Officer Brett Botelho has been assigned to the role. As the school resource officer, Officer Botelho will be based at the College Park High School campus and will also spend time at the middle schools, building relationships with students and faculty. Officer Botelho will provide educational assistance through programs like Every 15 Minutes, serve as a resource for information related to law enforcement, and act a liaison between the police department, school district, and neighboring police departments.
The school resource officer position has been vacant since 2012. I am proud that we have collaborated with the Mt. Diablo School District to equally share the cost of this important position.