December 2017 President’s Message by Cindy Towles

Hi Neighbors!  I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving; there is so much to be thankful for.  I will get back to that in a minute, but first the serious stuff.   In my SJSU Business Communications class, we learned “first the bad news”, although I don’t think it’s all that bad; more of an opportunity.   There are some amazing people of the younger generation that are rising up, particularly with ACT (Ashland-Cherryland Together) and the EMAC (Eden Area Municipal Advisory Committee) and one of them is Tyler Dragoni, who doesn’t miss much about what goes on around here.

On November 22, Tyler posted on the CCA Facebook page this picture with the comment “City of Hayward plans to annex Foothill freeway caltrans property. Number 9 looks like it belongs to Cherryland”.  Sure enough, on 11/14/2017, the Hayward City Council passed the resolution to begin a design workshop.

Subsequent comments to the post indicated the community (myself included) are not happy with the selective annexation of our land “Cherry-picking”, if you will.   We would like the County to step up on this one.

THEN, on November 28, Randy Waage posted that a liquor store is applying for a conditional use permit “CUP” to come into Creekside shopping center.   The Board of Zoning Adjustments Meeting is Dec. 13th at 1:30pm, Public Hearing Room. 224 W. Winton Avenue, Hayward.   Apparently they sent a letter asking for CCA comments to our old PO Box.   We never got it.  But, since ACSO is against the CUP, it probably won’t fly.   I plan on attending, as do many others.

Now, from the ridiculous to the sublime … me and my bestie drove around Cherryland a couple of nights ago and took pics of the Christmas lights on houses.  I was so delighted that residents were making enough of an investment in the community, more than in the recent past, enough to put up lights.   Here are a few highlights:

We were pleasantly astounded when driving down Standish and caught sight of this ginormous tree covered in lights at the end of what apparently is 4 Seasons Place.   Maybe it should be Christmas Season Place?   But I digress …

When I first was getting involved in the community
some 4 years ago, I pondered how the community that my Grandparents chose to raise their family got to be so disjointed and detached. My vision, as shown in this picture of me, at the ACT Street Party in October 2013, was for a more unified community.  This investment in Cherryland is a dream starting to come true.

I wish you all a Merry, Cherry Christmas!


This entry was posted on December 1, 2017.

November 2017 President’s Message by Cindy Towles

Hi Neighbors!   There are always good things happening in Cherryland, if you’re paying attention.   On October 26th, at Taqueria El Mezcal on Lewelling, there was a victory party to celebrate the County Board of Supervisors’ agreement to the establishment of an Eden Municipal Advisory Council (EMAC) for Ashland, Cherryland and San Lorenzo!   I popped by for a few minutes to congratulate the team.  This milestone resulted from the survey that Alameda County mailed out to residents of the area this summer where 73 percent of those that returned a survey said they wanted a MAC and only 24 percent said they thought they are being represented adequately by the county.

In case you didn’t know,  MACs meet and discuss issues ranging from housing developments to public art to proper signs on businesses. Their recommendations are then given to the supervisor who usually takes into account local preferences.   Much as we at the CCA have been doing, but with an important difference.  In a recent article in the San Leandro Times, the articulate Keith Barros said, “[…] Instead of being divided communities, we will now become a united voice much stronger than the sum of its parts. We will have each other’s backs and while we decide together, we will rise together.”

The next step for the Eden MAC will be for Supervisor Chan and Supervisor Miley to appoint an ad hoc committee to work on the framework for forming the council – deciding the number of representatives, the bylaws, and more. It’s hoped that the EMAC will be running by this time next year.

Speaking of paying attention, in Jun or July, I was coming up Blossom to turn right on Mission and first noticed a sign that said “Cherryland Art Gallery”.   You could have knocked me over with a feather.   I went up to the door and no one was there but got the website and contact info and got in touch with the owner/curator, Rene Capone.   We had a delightful conversation and I introduced him to the community at our August General Meeting.   Turns out he was attracted to this neighborhood in what he thought was Hayward, but found out it was Cherryland by the time the sign went up!

Rene has been a part of our community for a year or so, but was busy at first with caring for his grandmother who had been living at a local assisted living facility as well as recovering for multiple bone surgeries himself.   It was unfortunate that I met him so late in the game, because I would have like to have connected him to helpful people and entities early on.   To make a long story short, the Cherryland Art Gallery will be closing at the end of November due to lack of funding and Rene will go back to the galleries of others in San Francisco.

Still, I was glad that the atmosphere in Cherryland is improving so much that an Art Gallery would even want to be here, another couple of years and I think we may become a place where one would be feasible.   I will keep in touch with Rene and I let him know that he’s welcome to come back anytime.  Maybe a program at our community center when and if it ever gets built.   Don’t get me started.

But for a time it was a little Camelot-ish:

Each evening, from December to December,
Before the sandman sprinkles sand,
Think back on all the tales that you remember of Cherryland.
Ask ev’ry person if he’s heard the story,
And tell it strong and clear if he has not,
While building an Eden from a desolate land
Don’t let it be forgot
That once there was a spot
For one brief shining moment was the Gallery Cherryland…



This entry was posted on November 1, 2017.

October 2017 President’s Message by Cindy Towles

Hello, neighbors!   There are many great things going on in our community, but our work is not done yet as we still have some challenges.

Challenge #1:  Getting our Community Center built.  I ran into a neighbor, who I will call BJ, at Sushi Land.   BJ is still in the construction industry and word on the street is that construction companies have so much work now that they can’t ramp up enough to take on any more projects.   In a free market economy, if demand (for their services) exceeds supply, then the price goes up.   BJ spoke of one recent project where the construction firm commanded and got TWICE the construction budget, just so the owner could get it built.   This does not look good for our Community Center, which has gone out to bid again with the same Construction Budget of $15 Million, and the bids are due next Monday, 10/09/2017 at 2:00 PM.    I am not optimistic at all that any one will build it for that.   Someone might win the bid, but since the delivery method is now design-bid-build, they may drown us in Change Orders (work that is added to or deleted from the original scope of work of a contract which may or may not alter the original contract amount and/or completion date).   Where does that leave us?   If (once again!) no one is willing to build it for the $15M, then we either need to get more money or re-design the project, or scrap it entirely (which is not acceptable!).

Below is a link to the video of the Board of Supervisors Regular Meeting that was on Tuesday, September 12, 2017  (Bookmark that video, I will get back to it.):

During this segment discussing our Community Center going out to re-bid, which begins at the 19-minute mark, Supervisor Miley mentions EALI Tier One funding.

A little background:   When approving the FY2013/14 Budget in June 2013, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a budget policy to use former RDA funds (ongoing residual property taxes or “boomerang” funds) returning to the County, (for the up to $90.0 million) at a rate of up to $18 million per year for five years, to fund the “Tier One” list of unfunded RDA projects in the unincorporated County.   I think the “boomerang” name is because the projects are timed to complete as the residual property tax receipts come in to fund them; the taxes are applied retroactively to the projects. That is where one of our delays came in.   Our Community Center is on that “Tier One” list:

Over the next year, it seems that is was concluded that residual property taxes were “slower-than-anticipated” (in other words, fell short) of what they anticipated by $12,224 or 3 percent due to $32,562 received in fiscal year 2013 from post‑RDA dissolution funds. However, this was offset by an increase of $16,425 in assessed property value and $5,774 in supplemental property tax due to increase in home sales that year (according to County Audits for FY2013/14 Budget).

Because of that shortfall, in July 2014, the Board of Supervisors approved a recommendation by the Planning Committee of the Community Development Agency (CDA) to extend the five‑year timeline of the funding of the Tier One projects for even longer than the original five years (I couldn’t find how much longer in the time I had to research it) so that the projects were RE‑timed to complete as the tax receipts come in to fund them.  More delays.

Susan Muranishi, County Administrator, warned in the FY 2016-2017 Proposed Budget letter (dated June 9, 2016): “[…] completion of “Tier One” projects could be further delayed if tax receipts do not keep pace with project plans, project cost increases and timelines. Additionally, there will be $5.0 million less available per year for “Tier One” capital projects based on your Board’s December 2015 decision to allocate the first $5.0 – $7.5 million of property tax revenues based on prior year receipts, toward affordable housing programs starting in FY 2016-2017.

There has been mention of “surplus” Tier One Funds, as recent as last year (for such things as increased shared Castro Valley parking).

What does this all mean?  The best that I can figure is that, in as plain English as I can:

  1. We will probably NOT get our community center built for the $15M.
  2. It appears that the answer to our project cost increases caused by delays is more delays. Which will cause more project cost increases.   It’s a vicious cycle.
  3. It appears that there are “surplus” Tier One Funds.
  4. It appears that our Community Center is lower in priority than affordable housing programs or parking in Castro Valley. Cherryland is still the red-headed stepchild.

Can more money be had?   I believe so.  The monies available have a great deal of flexibility to be moved around, as evidenced by the allocation of $5.0 – $7.5M of property tax revenues toward affordable housing.  (Don’t get me wrong, I am in favor of Affordable Housing.)

While these projects are built by the Public Works Agency (ACPWA), they are funded through the General Services Agency (GSA); specifically, the Office of Acquisition Policy (OAP).   The person there that controls the purse strings is its Director, Willie A. Hopkins, Jr.

Getting back to the previously mentioned video:  at one point Supervisor Miley says to Willie (who is off camera) that he will need to submit a Monthly Report of  Progress Made “the buck stops with him; his agency is holding up this project”.

If you care to express an opinion to Willie regarding this, here is his contact info:

Willie A. Hopkins, Jr.             (510) 208-9700 

In the meantime, we are trying to get the Community Center on the Agenda for the Wednesday October 25th Unincorporated Services Meeting.   Come out and show our solidarity as a community.   We will keep you posted via our Facebook page; but if you are not on Facebook, feel free to call us or drop us an email:


This entry was posted on October 4, 2017.

September 2017 President’s Message by Cindy Towles

It seems that the on August 28th the County came to the HARD Board to talk about changes in the design for our Community Center.  The $22M project budget consisted of $15M construction costs plus $7M “soft costs and contingency” budget (design plus the cost of the things that could go wrong which no one expects, or costs that unexpectedly rise).

The winning (lowest?  only?) construction bid came in at $18.8M, in excess of the $15M, and that was after some of the bells & whistles had been “value engineered” or “VE”d out of the design.  Since it seems that there are no additional funds to be had for this project, the “VE”-ing of the design was completely appropriate, in this case, and kind of standard for the industry (which I worked in for several years).   But, apparently, no bidder was willing to build the already‑VE’d design for the target budget.  It appears that either the County did not anticipate the construction costs rising so much in the years the project was delayed, or the architects undervalued what it would cost to construct their design, or a combination of both; and they came to present their case before HARD.

Apparently the aforementioned “VE” was not enough and they now propose further cuts such as reducing the number of MP rooms, simplifying the architectural finishes and to re-evaluate the programming for the center, meaning to look at what we want to use the center for NOW, as opposed to whenever the design process started.   (Not a bad idea, considering it was one of the main reasons HARD hired Debbie Hernandez.   Why not let her do her job?) Other things on the chopping block were: moving the HVAC away from zero net energy, simplification of garden and structure design (again, “less fancy”), and simplification of Exterior Building Design (getting rid of metal wall panels, roof pop-ups).

Also up for reduction is designing to LEED Gold. The greater the level of certification, the higher upfront capital costs; the lower certification levels for most buildings add up to 4 percent in design and construction costs (which are offset by lower operating costs) compared to a standard building while projects reaching for net zero can cost up to 13 percent more. Designing to LEED Silver Certification, which is the HARD standard, which would save additional money.

BUT, in order to get the construction budget down to $15M, the county is now considering some pretty drastic cuts that they had not previously considered, such as: making the building square footage smaller (by eliminating the Boston Road wing that would have sat on land purchased specifically by HARD for that purpose), program elements, and general quality of design.

Those were a little hard to swallow for most of your CCA Board, particularly the reduction of the square footage.

Don’t get me wrong; we are grateful to be finally getting a community center, but we had been promised certain things, and it feels like they are being taken away from us, and through no fault of our own.

As of this writing, we are attempting to get this on the agenda for this month’s Unincorporated Services Meeting, but even if we don’t get it on the agenda, we are still allowed to speak for 3 minutes on whatever we want, and so are you.   We urge you to come out and speak your mind at the meeting about this urgent development.

The Unincorporated Services meeting should be Wednesday September 27 at 6:30pm, at either the Castro Valley Library or the new San Lorenzo Library (TBD).   Come on out and make your voice heard.

This entry was posted on September 4, 2017.

August 2017 President’s Message by Cindy Towles

(Text of Speech – Cherryland Fire Station Grand Opening Celebration, more or less)

It’s a great day in Cherryland!

As president of CCA, but mostly as member of a family that has long owned property in Cherryland, I am excited to speak on this memorable occasion.
I remember as a child, with my mother, visiting a couple named the Johansens; their daughter Lois Gunderson was my mom’s lifelong friend since at least junior high school.   In the 1945 photo of the then All Volunteer Cherryland Fire Department in front of Vic Hubbard’s Garage on Meekland Avenue, Carrel Johansen is one of the men pictured.
In addition to all of the wonderful attributes mentioned by the previous speakers (such as seismically safe and enhance our response capabilities); Aisha Knowles said in a news article that this state-of-the-art facility will “increase our visibility and integration into the community.”
It is also beautiful… with the art murals, in which I found the medium fascinating: Glass Tiles known as “Tessera”.

detail of mosaic installation, by David Burke, at the new Cherryland Fire Station

detail of mosaic installation, by David Burke, at the new Cherryland Fire Station

Because of recent technological breakthroughs:  glass tiles being coated on the back which allowed pictures to be broken down into pixels and then printed on each individual tile by the Computer aided design (CAD) software which then instructs robots how to pick and place the tiles in the grid; bringing the ancient art of mosaic into the modern age.

In the Greek and Roman traditions, glass tiles, (or tessera hospitalis) were given out as tokens of mutual hospitality and friendship.

I hold up this token of friendship, which represents of the gesture of good will shown to us by Alameda County by making monies available to us for this Fire Station, the Community Center which is about to break ground, and the Meekland Streetscape/Sidewalks.

Roman gladiators were given a tile with the inscription “one whose valor has been proved beyond a doubt.”  To the Alameda County Fire Department, and all First Responders, I hold up this tile (or tessera gladiatorial) and thank you for this …

This tile tells the story of this Fire Station and even Cherryland.   Where tradition meet technological advances and progress.

On behalf of Cherryland and the Community association, I would like to express our gratitude and elation at the fulfillment of this dream.
Thank you.

This entry was posted on July 31, 2017.

July 2017 President’s Message by Cindy Towles

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

These words are extraordinary: every human being has “God-given” or, if you prefer, “natural” rights to live, be free, and pursue their happiness. So, in the Founders’ understanding, natural rights would include the right to life itself, the right to think for oneself, the right to self-defense, and the right to keep what one has worked honestly for, among others. The Founders knew that we need some protection in order to have the freedom to exercise those rights. Legal rights (such as the right to vote) are those that are acknowledged and protected by a given government. Governments were legitimate to the extent that they protected rights. Those that arbitrarily took them away possessed no moral authority. The Founders understood that even virtuous leaders, however, can succumb to the temptation to abuse the rights of others, so they designed a federal government that would have limited power, and whose branches would check one another.

Thomas Paine begins the pamphlet Common Sense with an observation that people tend to confuse government with society. According to Paine, society promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, while government is there only to protect life and property. Don’t get them twisted, folks. If all people acted morally, government would not be necessary; but since people are fallible, government is “a necessary evil” for the protection of life and property, and its success is to be judged by the extent to which it fulfills this role. If it fails to improve society or, worse, actively causes some of the same troubles that would result from anarchy, by Paine’s standards, it is far worse than if such behavior were to occur on its own; since the people create and support the government, and are therefore causing their own troubles. So, ultimately, freedom depends on citizens who care enough about preserving it to really evaluate the people who run for office, and on citizens having the wisdom, courage, and sense of justice necessary to act when they see government overstepping its bounds.

When the Founders wrote in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal,” they were aware of the differences that make people individuals—differences in appearance, personality, aptitude, skills, and character; that the government therefore must work to serve the common good, treating every citizen equally, regardless of agreeing with their beliefs, political or otherwise. They only exception, and only with due process of law, is when necessary to advance a compelling government interest, such as public safety, national security, or the protection of the rights of others.

Therefore, these rights apply not only to those mentioned in the Declaration, but to all: Rich and poor, Republican and Democrat, white and black, man and woman, Asian and Hispanic, liberal and conservative, gay and straight, Jew and Christian, Muslim and Hindu. Many of these groups, did not even exist in America in the colonial era. But, the Declaration’s intent is clear; that they too have “inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

This July 4th, as we watch fireworks and wave flags in celebration, may we also pause to reflect on our nation’s heritage. As the festivities end (generally about 2am here on Mission Blvd) and the last trails of smoke glide across the summer night sky, (especially now, at a time when much negativity dominates our public media) I will take a moment to thank God, and you can thank whoever you thank, for all that our freedom allows.

This entry was posted on July 1, 2017.

June 2017 President’s Message by Cindy Towles

Once Upon a Mattress.  I just had a memory of that old Broadway musical, starring Carol Burnett, and based on the Princess and the Pea by Hans Christian Andersen.

Maybe I just had Mattress on the Brain for the past month or two as we had Rodney Clara from the Mattress Recycling Council as our speaker for the April General Meeting, and I hosted a Mattress Recycling Dropoff on May 6th across from the former Banchero’s site.

Although the Mattress “Take-back” was a mild success, maybe 12 mattresses, I spoke to everyone who dropped one off and it seems that none were from my target market:   apartments in Cherryland.  So… I wasn’t too terribly surprised to see a bunch of discarded mattresses around the community this week.   What’s the deal?!?   End of the month and you can’t pay the rent, so time to move?   Can’t fit mattresses in the truck?  Heck, just dump ’em wherever you like!

I admit, discarded mattresses and furniture are my pet peeve.  It’s one of the things that got me started in community service a few years ago.   Before I let my hair grow.   I used to call the stretch of railroad track along western in back of Sunset High School the “Mattress Graveyard”.

Anyway, in the musical, the Queen wants to prove whether her prospective daughter-in-law is really a Princess or not; and that test is whether or not the Princess has the sensitivity to discern a pea underneath her mattress, causing her to not be able to fall asleep.  But the Queen ups the ante just a bit by placing the pea under TWENTY mattresses.   The chorus sings:

Quiet, Quiet
The queen insists on quiet
She’s ordered twenty mattresses
The softest and the best
And she’s threatened execution
If we dare disturb the rest
Of her very special guest
She’s ordered
Quiet, quiet, quiet!
I re-wrote the lyrics:
Blight, blight
Cindy can’t stand blight
They’ve discarded twenty mattresses
along the Western tracks
And she’s threatened execution
of those who leave them there
She’s pulling out her hair
She’s tired of
Blight, blight, blight!
Seriously, if you see a mattress or other furniture discarded, you can contact Alameda County Public Works at:
510-670-5500 (M-F 8AM – 5PM)
or by using the Mobile Citizen phone app.
ALSO!! The next One Day Mattress Collection Event will be hosted by Alameda County on Friday, July 14, 2017 at the Ashland REACH Youth Center.  More info to follow.
Spread the word!!!
We’ll round up these mattresses yet!   And I’ll try not to lose sleep over it …
This entry was posted on June 1, 2017.

May 2017 President’s Message by Cindy Towles

According to the U.S. Census Bureaus’ Estimates, this is the cultural breakdown of Cherryland:

Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 55.6%
White 18.1%
Black or African American 9.5%
Asian 9.2%
Other/More than one 7.6%
The United States has been traditionally called a melting pot because American history began with waves of immigrants, who became assimilated into American society.  The term “Melting Pot” is from Israel Zangwill’s 1908 play of the same name, which depicts the life of a Russian-Jewish immigrant whose entire family is killed because of their ethnic group. He writes a great symphony called “The Crucible” expressing his hope for a world in which all ethnicity has melted away.
In the UK, where immigrants have always been encouraged to maintain their traditions and their native language, they describe themselves as a “salad bowl”, with people of different cultures living in harmony, like the lettuce, tomatoes and carrots in a salad.
A 2004 survey of Chinese, Vietnamese and Mexican immigrants by National Public Radio and others shows that many came here with the hopes to return to their home land, but realize that, for their children to have opportunities to be successful in America, it is important to assimilate and learn the language. At the same time, they desire to preserve the culture of their homeland and pass on traditions and values to the generations of family members that follow.
The book Who Are We: The Challenges to American National Identity, compares American culture to a basic tomato soup with immigrants adding spices to the soup.  I like to think of Cherryland as being more of a casserole; soup is a little too homogenous to describe us.
Cherryland’s population is 55.6% Hispanic.  According to a 2012 survey by the George Barna group, Hispanics believe a strong traditional family is the building block for a healthy community.   I like that spice that they add to the Cherryland Casserole.  Savory and cozy, like cumin.  Heartwarming.
I am not sure what the 18.1% white is. I suspect white means the 19th-century immigrants from Europe who fled poor economic conditions and settled America, developed its infrastructure, and advanced its politics and culture.  Like my great-great-grandparents, the Borge da Silvas, who immigrated from the Azores Islands. I think the 18.1% add the salt to the recipe. Basic, but an essential nutrient; and you notice it when it’s missing.
Salt’s counterpart, the fragrant peppercorn, once prohibitively expensive and a global commodity, is supplied by the Asian population.  This enterprising people group earns 115-120% of what “whites” do.
The 9.5% Black/African-American population most likely immigrated here originally from the African diaspora. Spirituality was a significant part of African Americans’ ancestral culture, so “Grains of Paradise” will be the zesty flavor this vibrant people group adds to the Cherryland Casserole; like their enormous influence on music, art, literature, religion, cuisine, and American culture in general.
When we have a casserole, we expect that there will be different ingredients and that they will be mixed together. But what if you ordered casserole and got a pile of sauce on the right, spices on the left, and some vegetables on a separate plate? Or, worse yet, what if all the ingredients were put into a blender!
My recipe for Cherryland Casserole would be one where the ingredients would maintain their own distinct individuality and were lovingly mixed into equal proportions of rights and opportunities, into a unified dish.

With a generous portion of spices.

In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas
(“in necessary things unity; in uncertain things freedom;
in everything compassion”).
~ Marco Antonio de Dominis

This entry was posted on May 1, 2017.

April 2017 President’s Message by Cindy Towles

Last year, when Supervisor Miley instituted a cleanup day along the Mission Blvd-E. 14th Street corridor, it didn’t quite make it down to my block, so I went out into the median strip at the Grove Way light and hoed some weeds, at the crack of dawn, so I wouldn’t get run over.

I took notice of the lamp posts on the Grove Street bridge and was thinking that I didn’t remember the lights ever being turned on.  Fast forward to early morning March 13th of this year.   I noticed that the lights are on.  When did THIS happen?  I didn’t know how long the lights had been on the bridge; I suspected that they were not part of the original construction in 1910, so I did some research.  I didn’t find out when the lights were added, but I found some interesting facts, such as, that on an average day 3,500 cars pass over it.  And in 2011, some gal publicly repented in the Facebook group “You know you’re from HayWarD if…” for spray painting the bridge on Grove Way at Mission with Led Zeppelin symbols and graffiti in the late 70’s. Good thing she was sorry.   My Grandma had to look at that.

Speaking of Facebook, when I posted the pictures of the lights being on, my dear friend and CCA Board emeritus, Derry Silva, said that she, her late husband had painted that bridge years ago with Bob Campisi, Erica Campisi and Sherry Klepper.   I’m glad, because sometimes that little gateway to Cherryland gets forgotten next to the big one at Mission & Hampton or even Meekland Ave.

That fact and the lights being on reminds me of the lamppost in The Chronicles of Narnia.   That lamppost, which started as a piece of a bar that the sorceress had chucked at the Lion; and the land was so fertile, anything would grow in an instant if it was planted in the ground. Trees and flowers blossomed into life.

Kind of like this plot of land that used to be the Meek Orchards because it was such good ground, until they didn’t rest the land and sub-divided it for houses.   (BTW, the ground here is fertile again.   I know this because tomatoes have volunteered on my property line, near the sidewalk.)   This lamppost, (as our Grove Bridge lights) set in an unlikely location in a Waste place, marvelously displaces the dark with light near the portal between the land and the other realm.

“It will not go out of my mind that if we pass this post and lantern, either we shall find strange adventures or else some great changes of our fortunes.”

―Lucy Pevensie, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

May our lights remain ever lighted, and be symbolic of new life and great changes in our fortunes here in Cherryland.   And perhaps also of strange adventures.

This entry was posted on April 1, 2017.

March 2017 President’s Message by Cindy Towles

As I write my first President’s Message from my little house on the plot on Mission Boulevard that was originally a piece of what was “Meek Orchards Tract” purchased by my grandfather in the 1930s from the Bank of Haywards, I reflect on the many changes that have occurred over the years.

Even though my parents lived in the City of Hayward off of Winton, I stayed with my grandmother frequently and she would take me to Cherryland Park to play occasionally.   In the decades that followed, “progress” began to take its toll on our community and was particularly evident on the thoroughfare running in front of grandma’s house.

What began as the El Camino Real then the unpaved road for horses and buggies traveling from Niles to Oakland, became East 14th Street, then Mission Blvd and finally SR-185.  It reminded me of a line in a John Mellencamp song where the interstate runs through the man’s front yard.   Cherryland was no longer a destination but a blur as cars whizzed by.  The failure of the Ashland and Cherryland business district specific plan created in the 1990’s didn’t help.  Chain stores such as Long’s and Lucky left Creekside.   After my grandma died in the 80s, my parents eventually down-sized and moved into the house, and put up lattice on the windows as well as an extra gate to keep prostitution activities out of our driveway.   My colleagues on the CCA Board tell me that in the interior of the community, as the original owners passed away, single-family dwellings were torn down and replaced with tenements, spurring the creation of the “Cherryland Homeowner’s Association”.

When I took over the house in 2009, I ended up being the beneficiary of low-income assistance from the now-defunct Alameda County Redevelopment Agency to upgrade my home as well as a grant to paint it.   I opted to not put the lattice back on the windows, because I had began to see things improve; instead of prostitutes walking in front of the house, I was seeing moms with strollers, and I said “I am not going to live like this, not going to hide in my own house”, and subsequently received a postcard in the mail requesting public input for the Update of the Business District Specific Plan.   I showed up a meeting and began my journey in service to my community.

Since then, I have seen some wonderful things:  the halfway house across the street becoming a haircut place, Meekland Avenue getting repaved, community gardens, the street sweepers coming by every now and again, Eden night live, and developers interested in blighted lots at our major intersection.  I anticipate even more wonderful things.

When I spoke recently at a forum for potential retailers at Kitchen 1014 in Ashland, one of the attendees commented to me that my love for my community was evident.   I hope that it is evident to Cherryland as well.

This entry was posted on March 4, 2017.