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Wet Pavements, Warm Hearts: Zachary's Pizza Party for Christine's Farewell

As you know, our Recreation Department's Walking on Wednesdays group has a standing joke that it never rains in Piedmont on Wednesday mornings. That has been the case for almost all of 2023, but on this last-day-of-fall Wednesday this week our lucky charm was broken. It wasn't "an atmospheric river," but head covers were necessary.

Only nine walkers gathered in the rain with their umbrellas at the Exedra when the morning started. There were good reasons to be on hand this Wednesday. We were walking to Zachary's restaurant on Grand Avenue for our annual holiday lunch, and to say goodbye for now to a friend. We were going to go straight down Magnolia Avenue to Wildwood and Grand Avenues, and would be passing the recently closed Piedmont Station, so while we were assembling, its history and

current status were shared. Piedmont Shell had been in Piedmont for 95 years, but it was announced in November that it would close at end of the month. The property is being sold to Shell Recharge, a division of Shell Oil. The station has three 10,000 gallon gas tanks under the pumps that needed to be replaced by 2025. New tanks would have enabled the station to continue to sell gas for decades, but the increased popularity of electric vehicles made the owner feel uncomfortable with the future of gasoline stations and the investment. Influencing this was California's plans to achieve 100% new zero-emission vehicle sales by 2035, and have a 25% reduction in smog causing pollution by 2037.

Shell plans to demolish the existing station and replace it with a 14-bay electric vehicle charging hub under the Shell Recharge brand. Fast charging will be provided with power up to 360kW. Pricing of charges will be on a pay-as-you-go basis with prices on an app, and varying base on the time of day. No employees will be regularly on the site. These plans need permitting and regulatory approval. Shell hopes the project will be added to the City's public hearing January agenda, and that they will be able to start construction in the first half of 2024. We planned to be at Zachary's around 11:15 so that we could beat the lunch rush. We also knew some less water tolerant walkers were going to meet us at the restaurant. Among those coming to the restaurant were Christine C and Aaron K. Christine was the day's special attendee because it was her last walk with us for a while. She has been working with the K family for over ten years in both New York and California. However, she is retiring and returning to her native Grenada, so this lunch was to be a happy sendoff for Christine too.

We headed out down Magnolia with visions of pizza dancing in our heads. Along the way Rob , Mark, and Noemi came out of their nearby homes to join the pilgrimage. We passed the Shell station, crossed Grand, and went down to the restaurant. Zachary's welcoming staff got us

settled at a long set of tables in the center of the restaurant. Members of the group trickled in and a total lunch party of 22 walkers/eaters, including Christine and Aaron, were finally in place. We made our menu elections, and before the food came, Christine was recognized. She was thanked for her friendliness, kindness, and being a wonderful member of the group. Christine said how much she had enjoyed the group and being together. Christine is going to be missed, but she will come back to visit her Katzel family and do a Wednesday walk too. So it was not

goodbye. She also promised to start a Wednesday walking group in Granada. So, Walking on Wednesdays will become an international movement, thanks to Christine.

After some warm lunch conversations, and lots of hot pizza, we wished each other happy holidays, and said goodbye for now to Christine. We exited the restaurant into what was now a sunny afternoon. The rain had just been a couple hours earlier than it should have been this Wednesday. We started our way back up Wildwood to the town center. It was a happy morning. The sun was shining and the days would be getting longer. Service stations had closed, but others would be opening. The group had enjoyed being together and were now, like Christine, going home.


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