November 2022 – About the Turtle Island Monument Project

Three City Commissions will be reviewing a revised design for the Turtle Island Monument this month. We have sent the following letter to the commissioners, mayor and vice-mayor:

Dear Landmarks Preservation, Civic Arts, Parks Recreation & Waterfront Commissioners,

We understand that designs for the Turtle Island Fountain, a monument to the Indigenous community located at the landmarked fountain in Martin Luther King Jr in Civic Center Park, are being presented to City commissions for review on December 1, 7 and 14 respectively.

After 30 years of effort, this project at long last has been fully funded through City and community volunteer fundraising efforts from 2017 to 2022 totaling close to $1,000,000, from numerous grants and other funding sources (see below). The project is being managed by Parks, Recreation & Waterfront and the Civic Arts Commission, in concert with the City-contracted design firm of PGA Landscape Design.

WE ARE CONCERNED that a design proposal without a fully funded monument may be presented– a design lacking its central features, which will get pushed off into ‘later phases’. We are concerned that the city contract design team may be prioritizing the surrounding features– namely, replacing the surrounding flagstone terrace pavers and restoring the Berkeley Peace Wall.

We strongly urge the commissions to support a design that includes a fully finished monument on time and on budget–using the substantial funds that have been raised, in the time frame designated by the grant funded parameters.

With funding close to $1,000,000–money intended to primarily be spent on creating a monument to the Indigenous Community and secondarily to repairing its surrounding features– we urge you to support a design that COMPLETES the monument AND requires no additional phases (or years of additional fundraising).

As per the attached rendering, a viable alternative was designed in collaboration with eminent landscape designer Walter Hood in 2019, along with a subsequent alternative design alteration proposed by Lee Sprague. These designs can be built with funding available and respects the integrity of the landmarked fountain. Moreover, the design was vetted with scores of indigenous community members and included in all prior grant applications and community meetings.

The monument will become a newly recognized historic monument, honoring the Indigenous people and communities, located at the landmarked site of the already historically significant fountain. We support your approval of this well-vetted complete design to acknowledge Berkeley’s original inhabitants who have lived on this land for thousands of years.

See letter and attachments here: CCCC letter re Turtle Island Monument Project FINAL

(The names at left are the attendees at the November 21 meeting where the project status was discussed and the proposal to send a letter was approved.)