Archive for the ‘Parks’ Category

Antioch Council agrees to move forward with “community gathering space” proposal for lumber yard in Rivertown

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021

River Town Square Site Plan from presentation at Antioch City Council meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021.

“We’re celebrating our 150th anniversary, next year. It’s time.” – Save The Yard leader, Joy Motts

Torres-Walker supports a “green space”; using it for a “420″ pot smoking festival so Antioch residents don’t have to travel to San Francisco for the annual event on April 20th in that city

By Allen Payton

After years of advocating for a park and event center on the former Antioch Lumber Company lot in the city’s historic, downtown Rivertown, former Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts and members of the group, Save The Yard, got the go ahead from the city council. All five council members agreed to pursue the idea during their meeting Tuesday night, Nov. 23. The City’s downtown hasn’t had a large park, but only the smaller Waldie Plaza, since the much larger Barbara Price Marina Park was replaced with the marina boat launch and parking lot in 2012.

The former Barbara Price Marina Park and sign (inset) where the marina boat launch and parking lot are now located. Source: Yelp

Motts, local theater director Lee Ballesteros and Area 1 Antioch School Board Trustee Antonio Hernandez spoke about their vision of a Rivertown Town Square, bordered by W. 2nd, W. 3rd and E Streets, during the group’s first, formal presentation to the council. Rivertown Town Square presentation ACC112321

“Our ask this evening is that the city council decide on the disposition of this property…rather than leave it as an eye-sore,” Motts said.

Following the presentation, Thorpe said, “the goal is to have a conversation with Save The Yard folks.”

Joe Goralka spoke during public comments in favor of the project and against “selling a prime piece of property to a developer for a few condos.” He also said, “a few more residents isn’t going to bring about significantly more traffic to downtown businesses”…”The city should not sell out Rivertown businesses” and called the town square project “an asset to downtown.”

Antioch resident Martha Goralka speaks in favor of the River Town Square project during the Antioch City Council meeting, Tuesday night, Nov. 23, 2021. Video screenshot.

His wife, Martha Goralka said, “everywhere Joe and I have visited had gathering places.”

“There’s nothing that we can’t do as a united community,” she added.

Rick Stadtlander, wearing a “Save The Yard” T-shirt gave eight reasons for the council to approve the town square: beauty, walkability, ideal location, a focal point, pride, community, our voice, health. “Residents deserve much better than an empty lot,” he stated.

“Be the council that is bold and has vision. Let’s save the yard. Let’s build a town square,” Stadtlander concluded.

Former Antioch Planning Commissioner Kerry Motts spoke in favor of the project and suggested a farmer’s market at the proposed town square

“The City is not considering housing on this lot, right now and we do not have any applications for it,” Mayor Lamar Thorpe said. “I want the public to understand that.”

“Thank you, so much for the presentation and all the hard work you put into the presentation, tonight,” District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker said. “Not sure if the previous process included youth voice. Since the report in 2014…there might be more diverse opinions other than housing.”

“If this moves forward, it will be their park, too,” she said about those

“My concern about people not being policed in public spaces,” Torres-Walker stated. “I’m definitely not a supporter of building homes on contaminated land. But then I’m also concerned about building a space to bring children and their families on land that is contaminated,” mentioned by Ballesteros.

“Soil contamination is easily mitigated,” Ballesteros responded. “All of this is on the City’s website in the Downtown Specific Plan. It’s a 179-page report. You can look at cancer clusters…where people spend a length of time. There is mitigation that can be done if you want to put housing there. Green space adds positive air because of trees.”

“It’s just a vision. This isn’t the plan. We put this together to ask the council to make a plan,” she stated. “Give everyone in the city positivity. We’re coming out of two years of misery. Let’s make the river belong to everyone.”

“It’s just time for the whole community to gather together for events,” Joy Motts then said. “It will be an economic engine for downtown. We’re celebrating our 150th anniversary, next year. It’s time.”

Torres-Walker then mentioned people not having to “go to San Francisco for 420 fests”, which is a large, annual pot smoking event. “We should do it, here like we do all these other things.”

“I was one of the ones in the past who was unsure about this,” said Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson, then mentioned “equity in access to public spaces.”

“I’ve come to be open to this,” she said. “I’m glad to talk to you, Joy about this and Antonio, you’ve educated me about this, too.”

Joy Motts then publicly thanked Brian Halloran, a landscape architect, for drawing the site plan pro bono.

Rivertown Town Square rendering. Source: Save The Yard

“I don’t think it’s a secret that I’ve been a supporter,” Thorpe said. “I’d like to step back, because this isn’t a plan, it’s a vision. I believe if the public steps up and demands something, the government needs to look into it. I believe the council needs to make a decision about the direction we want to go. Do we want an RFP process…or direct our resources for a town square project?”

“I’ve had multiple people talk to me about this,” District 1 Councilman Mike Barbanica said. “What has struck me as odd is, I don’t know if this is the highest and best use of this land. This is the third time you’ve spoken to us about this but where are they? The people of our community are telling us this is what they want. We, as a city, have had years to do something about this, but we haven’t. I just believe we need to listen to the community.”

“You can sell me on anything, Lee but not this, yet,” said Lori Ogorchock to Ballesteros. “I’m looking at Waldie Plaza. I’m looking at City Park on A Street. I’m not sure I’m sold, yet. It is something I will hold open. At this point, I don’t know what’s the best use of this property. I will keep an open mind.”

“This is the first time you’ve presented to council,” Thorpe said.

“That’s correct,” Joy Motts said. “The mayor said he would bring it forward, this year. We didn’t have to think about it too hard because it’s in our heart.”

“In the past we’ve looked at housing,” Thorpe said. “We can look at a community gathering place. But I need direction in what we envision for this property.”

“I would envision a process that would include more voices,” Torres-Walker said.

“First, we have to decide what this process would do,” Thorpe responded.

“I’m saying, yes, this should be green space,” Torres-Walker stated.

“I would say some kind of gathering space,” Wilson added.

“I agree with that. I don’t believe we should decide, tonight on moving forward with a community space,” Barbanica said. “If we are going to build houses, then let’s build houses. But if this is what the community is asking for, then we need to move forward instead of just talking about it. If we are truly going to explore this idea, then let’s fully explore it.”

“I’m all for exploring,” Ogorchock added.

“Community gathering space is what we’re talking about,” Thorpe stated.

“We can begin a process for exploring a community gathering space, a green space,” City Manager Ron Bernal said.

“Congratulations,” Thorpe said to those in the audience to squeals, cheers and applause.

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Park district turning Black Friday green with FREE Park Day

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021

Special Visitor Center activities planned, one at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch

By Dave Mason, Public Information Supervisor, Public Affairs, East Bay Regional Park District

For the past seven years, the East Bay Regional Park District has celebrated Green Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, as a healthy outdoor alternative to Black Friday holiday shopping. To encourage time in nature, the Park District is again making Green Friday a FREE Park Day, meaning all District fees are waived for park entrance and activities, including parking, dogs, horses, boat launching, fishing, as well as entry to Ardenwood Historic Farm.

“Time in nature improves physical and mental health and is a great way to relieve holiday stress,” said Park District Board President Dee Rosario. “The day after Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to get outside and spend time with family and friends.”

The fee waiver does not include State fees for fishing licenses and watercraft inspections for invasive mussels or privately operated concessions such as the Tilden Merry-Go-Round and Redwood Valley Railway steam train.

The Park District’s Green Friday is part of the “#OptOutside” movement that started in 2015 when REI closed its doors on Black Friday and encouraged its employees and the public to explore the outdoors instead of shopping. Millions of people and hundreds of organizations now participate in #OptOutside each year.

Visitor Center activities planned for Green Friday include:

To find a park or activity, visit

The East Bay Regional Park District is the largest regional park system in the nation, comprising 73 parks, 55 miles of shoreline, and over 1,300 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and environmental education. The Park District receives more than 25 million visits annually throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Free entrance, parking at East Bay parks for active and retired military on Veterans Day

Tuesday, November 9th, 2021

The East Bay Regional Park District honors active and retired military members on Veterans Day with free access and parking at the regional parks, including Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont. Fee waiver only covers parking and park entry. Fee waiver DOES NOT include dog fees, boat launch or inspection fees, fishing permits, or concessions, such as merry-go-round, train, etc.

The East Bay Regional Park District is the largest regional park system in the nation, comprising 73 parks, 55 miles of shoreline, and over 1,300 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and environmental education. The Park District receives more than 25 million visits annually throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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East Bay Regional Park District honored with 2021 Global Citizen Award

Monday, October 25th, 2021

By Dave Mason, PIO, East Bay Regional Park District

The East Bay Regional Park District has been awarded the prestigious 2021 Global Citizen Award by the United Nations Association USA, East Bay and Silicon Valley Chapters. The virtual Award Ceremony was held on Sunday, October 24, 2021 as part of the 16th annual UN Day Celebration. Park District Board President Dee Rosario and General Manager Sabrina B. Landreth will be accepting the award on behalf of the Park District.

“We are honored to be recognized for our contribution to physical health, stress relief, and mental well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Park District Board President Dee Rosario. “Parks have provided an essential public service. We are proud that when the public needed us most, we answered the call and kept parks open and safe. During this time, we have continued to restore habitats and marshlands and even opened two new parks – Judge John Sutter Regional Shoreline in Oakland and Dumbarton Quarry Campground on the Bay in Fremont – to better serve the 2.8 million residents in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.”

The award recognizes the Park District’s leadership role in providing essential services during the pandemic as well as our alignment with the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals. In 2015, the United Nations adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals as a roadmap to build a world that is more equitable, inclusive, safe, and sustainable for all peoples. Since the Park District’s founding in 1934, the District has steadfastly enhanced the quality of life for residents in the East Bay as well as for the natural environment and wildlife.

The East Bay Regional Park District is the largest regional park system in the nation, comprising 73 parks, 55 miles of shoreline, and over 1,300 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and environmental education. The Park District receives more than 25 million visits annually throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information visit

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Open House at Roddy Ranch for new regional park Saturday, Sept. 25

Sunday, September 19th, 2021

By Eddie Willis, Planner, East Bay Regional Park District

Greetings, park supporters:

I am excited to announce that East Bay Regional Park District and East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy will be hosting a free, on-site OPEN HOUSE EVENT at the former Roddy Ranch Golf Course in Antioch the morning of Saturday, September 25. This is an opportunity to see the site in-person, walk along a section of former golf cart paths, and learn about park planning efforts, design ideas, and habitat restoration for the future Regional Park. Capacity is limited, so registration is required. Face coverings and/or social distancing may also be required per local health orders.

When: Saturday, September 25*, 2021 from 9:30am – 11:30am

*If September 25 is canceled due to wildfire smoke or other issue, an alternate date of Saturday, October 9 will be offered.

Where: Former Roddy Ranch Golf Course at 1 Tour Way, Antioch (entrance off Deer Valley Road)

Registration required: visit [] or call 1-888-EBPARKS (1-888-327-2757) and reference program #41871

Please pass this invitation along to any community members, civic leaders, family, or friends you think may be interested in learning about the new park. For general questions, I can be contacted at

Thank you for supporting your Regional Parks!

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All Abilities and Coastal Clean-Up Days at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley Sept. 17 & 18

Friday, September 10th, 2021

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Antioch council to consider first in region Bicycle Garden during Tuesday night meeting

Monday, May 24th, 2021

Screenshot of Bicycle Garden concept video.

14-item agenda begins with 5-year Capital Improvement Program study session, followed by presentation of Rivertown Dining District marketing program, adopting a Water Shortage Contingency Plan, more youth development programs such as All Inclusive Parks, plus easing restrictions on home occupations, expanding ban on smoking, giving city manager 15% pay raise

By Allen Payton

During their regular meeting on Tuesday, May 25, 2021 the Antioch City Council will once again deal with 14 agenda items, as they did during last week’s special meeting. They include a study session on the 5-Year Capital Improvement Program beginning at 5:00 p.m., followed by a presentation on marketing for the new Rivertown Dining District, adopting a water shortage contingency plan, plus multiple youth development programs.

The council will also consider easing restrictions on home-based businesses, allowing for light manufacturing, such as crafts and other items that are sold on websites such as Etsy, as well as expanding the ban on smoking to include e-cigarettes. Finally, the council will consider increasing City Manager Ron Bernal’s annual salary by 15% to $293,712  which “reflects a positive review”, according to the staff report.

Water Management

The council will consider adopting a Water Shortage Contingency Plan (WSCP) as part of the 2020 Urban Water Management Plan Update which will be submitted to the California Department of Water Resources. According to the city staff report, while the WSCP is done each year, this year the city must now provide information not previously required. That includes a description of the process for an annual water supply reliability assessment, five-year drought risk assessment, six water shortage levels and a seismic risk and assessment plan, among others.

Bicycle Garden rendering. From council presentation by CCTA and Safe Streets.

Bicycle Garden

The youth development programs the council will be discussing include a Bicycle Garden, in coordination with the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and the Street Smarts Diablo Region Safe Routes to Schools program. (See concept videoBicycle Garden presentation

According to the city staff report the proposed development of a state-of-the-art Bicycle Garden in Antioch would be the first of its kind in the region and is expected to be completed via public-private partnership funding. The Bicycle Garden would be a permanent, hands-on bicycle training facility fully contained within an existing Antioch park.

Bicycle Garden rendering.

Designed like a miniature city streetscape, the Garden would provide a safe place for youth and adults to ride bikes and learn the rules-of-the-road. The park would consist of small roads that weave in and around landscaped areas with smaller scaled versions of real-life traffic features including signals, traffic signs, road markings, bus stops, bike lanes, train tracks, etc.

In addition to open and free public use by individuals and families, the Bicycle Garden could provide a variety of programming opportunities for the City of Antioch: school field trips, classes for children, teens, and adults of all ages and abilities; summer camp modules, community biking and safety events, private party rentals, and more.

The Antioch Bicycle Garden will serve four goals:

  • SAFETY: Serve as the gold standard model for bicycle safety education, work toward a regional Vision Zero goal of eliminating fatal and severe traffic collisions involving bicyclists and pedestrians; and provide hands-on bicycle, pedestrian, and driver safety education designed for both programmed and independent learning in a comfortable, fun, permanent, and car-free facility.
  • COMMUNITY HEALTH: Increase and support community building, exercise, outdoor recreation options, and social and emotional well-being for youth and adults while instilling a “culture of bicycling” in Antioch, and the region.
  • CLIMATE CHANGE: Improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by inspiring community members to replace vehicle trips to/from schools and other community destinations with bicycling or walking.
  • EQUITY: Ensure equitable, safe, and no-cost access to the facility for all members of the public, including youth and adults of all ages and abilities.

From Antioch City Council presentation by Gates + Associates.

All Inclusive Parks

The council will also be provided a presentation on All Inclusive Parks, expanding on the All Abilities Playground at Prewett Family Park. They will then discuss and provide direction to staff on a park design policy. All Inclusive Parks presentation

The regular council meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. See the complete agenda.

Public Comments

Members of the public wishing to provide public comment may do so by 5:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting in the following ways (#2 pertains to the Zoom Webinar):

  1. Fill out an online speaker card located at:
  2. Provide oral public comments during the meeting by clicking the following link to register by 5:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting, to access the meeting via Zoom Webinar: – You will be asked to enter an email address and a name. Your email address will not be disclosed to the public. After registering, you will receive an email with instructions on how to connect to the meeting. – When the Mayor announces public comments, click the “raise hand” feature in Zoom. For instructions on using the “raise hand” feature in Zoom, visit: Please ensure your Zoom client is updated so staff can enable your microphone when it is your turn to speak.
  3. Email comments to by 5:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting. The comment will be read into the record at the meeting (350 words maximum, up to 3 minutes, at the discretion of the Mayor). IMPORTANT: Identify the agenda item in the subject line of your email if the comment is for Announcement of Community Events, General Comment, or a specific Agenda Item number. All emails received by 5:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting will be entered into the record for the meeting.



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East Bay Parks, local officials cut ribbon to open new coal mine exhibit at Black Diamond Mines in Antioch

Friday, May 21st, 2021

Parks District Board V.P. Colin Coffey (center) and President Dee Rosario (left) prepare to cut the ribbon for the new coal mine exhibit. They were joined by Pittsburg Councilwoman Shanelle Scales-Preston (far left) G.M. Sabrina Landreth (between Rosario and Coffey), Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson, Director Beverly Lane and representatives of Congressman Mark DeSaulnier and Assemblyman Tim Grayson.

Director Colin Coffey next to the coal car and miner inside the exhibit.

Opens Saturday for weekend tours

By Allen Payton

On Thursday, May 20, 2021 officials and staff of the East Bay Regional Parks District (EBRPD) were joined by local officials to celebrate the opening of the new coal mine exhibit inside the old Hazel Atlas sand mine at the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve. Following speeches of gratitude and congratulations attendees held a ribbon cutting inside the mine in front of the entrance to the new exhibit.

It will take visitors back in time to a realistic 1870’s-era coal mine, complete with sights and sounds. The immersive educational experience will allow for greater understanding and appreciation of the area’s coal mining past.

Ira Bletz, Regional Manager, Interpretive & Recreation Services for EBRPD said the whole effort took two years, including carving out the area inside the mine and the development of the display. While the mine was being worked on to make room for the exhibit, the display was being developed at another location. It was then disassembled, brought to the mine and reassembled for the exhibit. The fake rock was bolted to the real rock.

Another part of the coal mine exhibit.

New district general manager, Sabrina Landreth said, about her staff, “it’s a joy to see the fruits of their labor”.

“The parks district has delivered wonderful amenities to the people of East Contra Costa County,” she added.

Board of Directors Vice President Colin Coffey, who represents East County, said, “the exhibit shows what it was like working in the mine in the early 20th Century.”

“You are the first public visitors in the mine since 2019,” he stated. “As of today, Black Diamond Mines is happy to welcome guests, here.

Coffey spoke of and thanked the Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation which contributed $1 million to the Regional Parks Foundation for five visitor center projects, including the coal mine exhibit.

EBRPD Directors, General Manager Sabrina Landreth and Kevin Damstra (right) Supervising Naturalist in charge of the exhibit and park.

Director Beverly Lane and Board president, Dee Rosario were also in attendance for the event.

Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson and Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock, as well as city manager Ron Bernal, and Parks & Rec Commission Chair Marie Arce attended.

Wilson spoke, recognizing “the East Bay Regional Parks District for their commitment to the community” and thanked them for keeping parks open during COVID-19.

“Thank you for sharing our history and stories of our rich heritage,” she added. “I’m really happy this is going to be available to our residents, our youth.”

During her remarks, Pittsburg Councilwoman Shanelle Scales-Preston shared the fact that “Pittsburg was first named Black Diamond because of the coal mines.”

EBRPD staff with former General Manager Bob Doyle (blue shirt, right) at the entrance of the new exhibit.

Representatives from Congressman Mark DeSaulnier and Assemblyman Tim Grayson read letters from them and Assemblyman Jim Frazier, congratulating the parks district for the opening of the exhibit.

Former General Manager Bob Doyle spoke about the background of the new exhibit and his own experience in one of the now closed coal mines.

“It was John Waters’ vision. He came up with this idea,” Doyle stated.

According to the display inside the mine, “the Hazel-Atlas Mining Museum and Greathouse Visitor Center are two of the many accomplishments of Waters,” who “began his career with the East Bay Regional Park District in 1968 as a Park Ranger. Later, as Resource Analyst, he designed Black Diamond’s parking lot, picnic areas and water system. John eventually became Black Diamond Park Supervisor, and later served as the Preserve’s first Mine Manager, a position he held until his retirement in 2006.”

John Waters. Photo: EBRPD

“I was privileged in 1977 to actually go into the last open coal mine…in Nortonville,” Doyle shared. “The exhibit has the photos from the actual coal miners. No one had been in there for 110 years. It had the corral for the animals that were used to haul the coal. The middle of the track was worn out from the animals pulling the coal mine.”

“Our gas meters went off and we took as many photos, and got out. That has been permanently closed off. Four boys snuck in and died about four years, later,” he continued. “It’s important we recognize the safety by the parks district and the hard, hard life the early workers had, here.”

“This is an incredibly huge, 6,000-acre park and someday there will be an entrance from the Nortonville side, which was the largest town in the area,” Doyle added

“It’s a history that’s often hidden and one we take great pleasure in sharing with you,” said Kevin Damstra, Supervising Naturalist in charge of both the exhibit and the Black Diamond Mines park.

The exhibit includes background noise of coal mining including voices of Welsh and Welsh accented English,” he shared. “There were also Irish, Italian and Chinese miners, out here, for a while.”

The coal mining lasted from 1865 to 1908 and then the sand mining from 1920 to 1945,” Damstra shared.

A few photos of the coal miners who were as young as eight years old, coal train and trestle inside the exhibit.

The Black Diamond Mines Hazel Atlas Mine is located at the south end of the Somersville Road in Antioch. The exhibit is open for four tours each Saturday and Sunday beginning tomorrow, May 22. To schedule yours contact the parks district at (510) 544-2750 or toll free: 888-EBPARKS (888-327-2757), option 3, extension 4506, or visit The sand mine will not be open until June. It’s cold inside the mine and wearing something warm is recommended.

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