Archive for the ‘Parks’ Category

East Bay Parks offer Free Park Day for Juneteenth Sunday

Friday, June 17th, 2022

Hike of Celebration and Reflection at Thurgood Marshall Regional Park in Concord

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

The Park District is celebrating Juneteenth this year with a Free Park Day in recognition of the date when enslaved Black Americans in Texas were notified of their freedom, two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. While Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to U.S.  General Ulysses S. Grant in April 1865, fighting continued in Texas for nearly two months. On June 2, 1865, Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith finally surrendered. A few weeks later, on June 19, U.S. troops landed in Galveston, Texas, confirming the end of the Civil War and slavery in Texas. Today, the abolition of slavery and emancipation of Black Americans in Texas is celebrated on June 19 annually as Juneteenth.

The Park District is committed to enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion, and making our parks and agency more welcoming and reflective of the communities we serve. Park District fees waived on Juneteenth include park entrance, parking, dogs, horses, boat launching, and fishing. However, the fee waiver does not apply to swimming, camping, reservable picnic facilities (due to capacity limits), District concessions, and state fees for fishing licenses, and watercraft inspections for invasive mussels.

The Park District is celebrating Juneteenth with several naturalist-led programs, including a Hike of Celebration and Reflection at Thurgood Marshall Regional Park – Home of the Port Chicago 50.

For more information about Juneteenth, visit www.ebparks.org/Juneteenth.

 

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CA State Parks Week: Weeding for Biodiversity on Mt. Diablo Friday, June 17

Thursday, June 16th, 2022

Diablo Overlook. Panorama photo by Elise McFarland. Source: CA State Parks

9:00 am FREE

As part of Stewardship Day during California State Parks Week, learn about the amazing variety of plant life at Mount Diablo State Park which includes species that are only found here. Threatening this rich diversity are some species that can turn an area with many types of plants into an area where there is only one. You can help as we pitch in with our park biologist to remove one of these invasive plants from an area of the park. Reservations required. Group size limited to 15.

Meet at 2675 Mt Diablo Scenic Blvd. in Danville.

For reservations and information email sharon.peterson@parks.ca.gov or visit castateparksweek.org/event/weeding-for-biodiversity/.

There are more opportunities to participate in State Parks Week on Friday and during Partnership Day / Volunteer Day on Saturday, June 18. Enjoy the over 279 park units, from the redwood forests on the North Coast to the sunny beaches in Southern California, that preserve and protect the best of California’s natural and cultural history, from natural features and ecosystems to historic structures and cultural resources.

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Limited swim facilities available at regional parks for Memorial Day Weekend, 2022 Swim Season

Friday, May 27th, 2022

Cull Canyon Swim Complex in Castro Valley. Photo by Jennifer Vanya. Source: EBRPD

Contra Loma Swim Lagoon in Antioch closed this weekend and for swim season due to required but delayed maintenance and safety repairs

All regional parks in the East Bay will be open this Memorial Day for annual holiday gatherings and celebratory festivities. Parks are anticipated to be busy and some at full capacity early, so park staff recommend arriving early to secure first-come, first-served, non-reservable picnic sites.

Many lifeguarded swim areas will also be open for visitors, including Castle Rock Pool at Diablo Foothills in Walnut Creek, Cull Canyon in Castro Valley, Don Castro in Hayward, and Lake Temescal in Oakland. Non-life-guarded beaches include Keller Beach at Miller Knox Regional Park in Richmond and Robert Crown Memorial State Beach in Alameda. Unfortunately, many of the Park District’s most popular swim areas, including Del Valle, Shadow Cliffs, and Lake Anza will be closed due to water quality, low water conditions, or construction and maintenance repairs.

“We regret the inconvenience and limitations on the public’s use of all of our swim facilities,” said Dave Mason, Public Information Supervisor.

Park District swim facilities face ongoing challenges related to climate change, including cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) and low water levels. Water quality is tested regularly during the swim season to ensure it is safe for the public. Visitors should check the status of swim facilities before they go by visiting www.ebparks.org/swimming.

Open Swim Facilities for Memorial Day Weekend are:

  • Castle Rock Pool– OPENING May 28
  • Cull Canyon Swim Lagoon – OPEN
  • Don Castro Swim Lagoon – OPENING May 28
  • Lake Temescal Swim Beach – OPENING May 28

Swim areas that are Closed for Memorial Day Weekend are:

  • Contra Loma Swim Lagoon – CLOSED for swim season due to required maintenance and safety repairs.
  • Lake Anza Swim Beach – CLOSED due to scheduled maintenance and ongoing water quality uncertainty.
  • Del Valle Swim Beach – CLOSED due to Blue-Green Algae.
  • Quarry Lakes Swim Beach – CLOSED due to Blue-Green Algae.
  • Roberts Pool– CLOSED for renovation and new pool facility construction.
  • Shadow Cliffs Swim Beach – CLOSED due to extreme drought and low water levels.

UPDATE: Parks Staff Explain Delay in Repairs

Mason and Park District Ward 7 Director Colin Coffey, who represents Antioch, were asked why the Contra Loma Swim Lagoon wasn’t repaired during the off-season so it could be open this summer.

In response, Lisa Goorjian, Chief of Design and Construction said, “it’s important to remember safety is our number one priority. For the lagoon to operate properly, it needs repairs. The delay was two-fold. It’s a complex lagoon. We’ve been working on a waterproofing seal. It’s specialized and it’s been difficult to secure due to the global supply chain issues. It’s been challenging to identify the right product. The lagoon is different than a swimming pool because it has sand. So, it makes it difficult to find something that will work with the sand and not have the seal fail.”

“We’ve been working with our contractor who is working with a supplier to identify the material,” she continued. “The lagoon original material was coming to the end of its life and when we initially made repairs in 2020, we used a new material. The original material is no longer available. We found out our conditions were such that the new material was not successful.”

“We understand that it’s a disappointment and we’re working hard to get it fixed,” Goorjian added. “We are working with our regional partners to provide swimming in eastern Contra Costa County to accommodate swim needs.”

“It is very distressing as Contra Loma is the backyard pool to so many in the area,” Coffey responded. “I asked Lisa to talk to you given she has been overseeing the project. I know it was planned to be completed by swim season.  I am hoping we are able to expand hours at another swim facility, like Ambrose, with placement of our lifeguards and covering overhead.  Staff is working on that.  Have a good holiday weekend.”

Swimming fees vary by facility. However, swimming is free for Regional Parks Foundation members. For information about becoming a Regional Parks Foundation member, visit regionalparksfoundation.org.

Walk-ins for all open locations will be available on a first-come, first-served basis until capacity is reached. Cull Canyon and Don Castro also offer optional swim entry registration on weekends and holidays to guarantee admission. To reserve your all-day swim entry, register at www.bit.ly/3NtZnLk.

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.

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.

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Antioch Sesquicentennial: Enjoy Black Diamond Day Saturday, May 21

Tuesday, May 17th, 2022

Join Us May 21st 10am – 4pm for a Fun Day with Live Music, Food, Free Coal Mine Tours, Performances and Great Exploring! There will be a Free Shuttle from Somersville Towne Center Mall to The Park that Will Allow Free Entry to the Park! Come Join the Fun and Explore One of Antioch’s Most Historic Hidden Gems! The Park is located at 5175 Somersville Road.

Parking is very limited, so we encourage you to use the Free Shuttle. The Shuttle Runs every 20 Minutes with Free Parking from Somersville Towne Center Mall to Black Diamond Mines Regional Park. Somersville Towne Center Mall is Located at 2556 Somersville Road.

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Amtrak San Joaquins to run special trains to Allensworth State Historic Park for 2022 Juneteenth Festival, June 11

Thursday, May 12th, 2022

Trains will bring visitors to celebrate Juneteenth at site unique to California’s African American history

Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park is holding a celebratory Juneteenth event on Saturday, June 11 from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. In partnership, Amtrak San Joaquins has scheduled special trains, bookable at a 50 percent discount rate to bring travelers to the historically significant Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park. Amtrak_Juneteenth_2022

The town of Allensworth was established in 1908 by Colonel Allen Allensworth and at one point was home to more than 300 families. The park is a California state treasure because it was the first town in California to be founded, financed, and governed by African Americans. Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park became a historical landmark in 1974.

The Juneteenth Festival is one of four major annual events hosted by Friends of Allensworth (FOA), a 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose mission is to support, promote, and advance the educational and interpretive activities at Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park.

According to FOA, “Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery. It was on June 19th, that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that all slaves were now free.”

About Allensworth State Historic Park

The town of Allensworth is located in the heart of the Central Valley, about 30 miles north of Bakersfield, and has a rich history that is of interest to students, families, history buffs, minority community organizations, and anyone else looking to spend a fun day exploring the historic community and its restored buildings. In 1908, Allensworth was established as a town founded, financed and governed by African Americans. There were a series of challenges impeding the town’s long-term survival, but it is celebrated as a key historic icon, and in 1974 California State Parks purchased the land in order to maintain it as a site for visitors to learn and explore the Colonel’s house, historic schoolhouse, Baptist church, and library.

Event activities will include square dancing, self-guided tours of historic buildings, historic games with prizes, storytelling, and arts and crafts. Food and refreshment vendors will also be present. Travelers can also bring their bikes and chairs aboard Amtrak trains and Thruway buses.

“Amtrak San Joaquins has been a long-time partner to the FOA in connecting the people of California with the historic town of Allensworth” said FOA President, Sasha Biscoe. “We encourage any individual that is interested in immersing themselves in the rich, ethnically diverse history of our state to consider taking advantage of the affordable, convenient, and fun transportation option provided by Amtrak San Joaquins and join us on June 11th to celebrate Juneteenth.”

The southbound trains that will be running for the event include trains 702, 710, 712, 714. The 710 train will depart the Richmond station at 6:56 AM, Martinez at 7:25 AM and Antioch at 7:50 AM and arrive at the Colonel Allensworth Park station at 11:56 AM. When purchasing train tickets, a 50% discount will automatically be applied to the ticket purchase and on up to five companion tickets.

Additional discount programs regularly available to riders includes:

  • Infants under 2 years of age ride for free
  • Children 2-12 years old ride half-price every day
  • Seniors (62+ years of age) receive 15% off
  • Veterans & active military members receive 15% off
  • Disabled riders save 10% off

Visitors attending the Juneteenth Festival will be able to take Amtrak San Joaquins trains to the Allensworth station. From there, riders will be met by a free shuttle for the short ride to the main property. The Allensworth station is normally a whistle stop on the San Joaquins available to be booked by groups desiring to visit the park.

Train tickets to Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park can be booked online at amtraksanjoaquins.com. For more information on how to book a group trip to Allensworth, please contact Carmen Setness, community outreach coordinator for San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC), at Carmen@sjjpa.com.

About the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA)

Since July 2015, SJJPA has been responsible for the management and administration of Amtrak San Joaquins. SJJPA is governed by Board Members representing each of the ten (10) Member Agencies along the 365-mile San Joaquins Corridor. For more information on SJJPA see www.sjjpa.com.

Amtrak San Joaquins is Amtrak’s 6th busiest route with 18 train stations throughout the Central Valley and Bay Area, providing a safe, comfortable and reliable way to travel throughout California. Amtrak San Joaquins is currently running six daily round-trips. In addition to the train service, Amtrak San Joaquins Thruway buses provide connecting service to 135 destinations in California and Nevada including Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Napa Valley, Las Vegas and Reno.

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Antioch City Council hires Bay Bridge engineering firm to design new Bicycle Garden

Tuesday, April 26th, 2022

Bicycle Garden rendering. Source: City of Antioch

Will locate it at Prewett Park; postpones vote on homeless motel funding due to lack of information from city staff; formation of new department also postponed

By Allen D. Payton

During their meeting Tuesday night, April 26, 2022, the Antioch City Council voted to postpone a vote on spending $12.3 million over five years to lease a motel for transitional housing for the city’s homeless residents. Mayor Lamar Thorpe spoke of holding a special meeting on the matter, possibly this Friday. The council also unanimously voted to approve up to $550,000 on the proposed Bicycle Garden and locate it at Prewett Family Park. At the end of their meeting, the council on a 2-2-1 split with Thorpe stating he would be abstaining, the formation of the proposed Department of Public Safety and Community Resources was postponed until issues being discussed about the matter in closed session are worked out

The Executive Inn on E. 18th Street is proposed to be used for transitional housing for homeless. Herald file photo.

Homeless Motel Funding Vote Postponed

Following public comments and a history about the project by Thorpe, the council members offered their reasons for how they were going to vote on approving $12.3 million to lease the Executive Inn on E. 18th Street for five years.  Executive Inn Homekey Program staff report ACC042622      Executive Inn HomeKey Financing presentation ACC02622

“This is bridge housing for stability,” Thorpe said. “I don’t want people giving out misinformation about our decisions up here. People have told us that we couldn’t. But dammit, we’re doing it.”

Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica said, “I’m in favor of getting people off the street. But I’m not in support of this location.”

“At $2.3 million that’s $82,000 per room per year. We’re only talking about 30 rooms,” he continued.

Barbanica then spoke of the impacts to the shopping center in Pittsburg where the  Walmart store  is located, since the Motel 6 on Loveridge Road was converted to the Delta Landing transitional housing facility for homeless in East County, and the need for more security there, as a result.

“We’re fooling ourselves if we think there won’t be other impacts in that neighborhood,” he said about the area around the Executive Inn.

District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker mentioned she lives in the neighborhood near the motel.

“I don’t think having the Executive Inn converted to transitional housing will cause any more problems in that neighborhood,” she said. “If it was good enough to put a school there for children then we can house people there living on the street.” She was speaking of the Rocketship Delta Prep charter school on Cavallo Road.

“I would like to see efforts for beautification and safety in this neighborhood,” Torres-Walker continued. “I do think we should move forward with leasing the Executive Inn. I really want to support the application for HomeKey for the Executive Inn and other potential sites. I do agree this one site is not the end all be all. We do have time. The application doesn’t have to be in until October.”

“It is a topic we’ve been working on for a very long time. I believe that we should have a presentation from Dignity Moves…on other properties,” District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock said. “I have heard from Focus Strategies that $12.3 million is conservative. So, our reserves will be depleted. The $12.3 doesn’t include services. I’m not in favor of this site. I want to look at other opportunities.”

“The figure $12.2 does include wrap-around services,” Thorpe stated, correcting Ogorchock. “Every budget assumption has us going in the red. Generally, our sales tax does better than we project. So, to look at this number as a fixed number is an assumption.”

District 4 Councilwoman Monica Wilson spoke next saying, “People have said ‘why don’t we have services for homeless?’ We’ve had migration in the Bay Area, east. Services haven’t followed.”

“I’m in agreement we do need to look at other opportunities. But the cutoff date is coming up pretty soon. We shouldn’t leave money on the table,” she continued. “We have a second date coming up. But I don’t want to keep going ‘this isn’t a good site’. Nobody’s going to be 100% happy with any site we choose. I’m saying we should move forward with something, so we don’t leave money on the table. I’m for voting for this tonight so we get the ball rolling and not keep kicking the can down the road.”

“We’re not applying for Round 2 on May 2nd. That would be an impossible effort. We are applying for Round 3 funding…in October,” Thorpe explained.

Assistant City Manager Rosann Bayon Moore spoke about research that she could make available to the council members showing “the Executive Inn is the only site that can compete with the aggressive timeline. As soon as they make their decision in December, we have to show we can bring the units online within eight months.”

“I would have preferred to see that before this and that didn’t happen,” Torres-Walker said, referring to the research by city staff. “I would also like to hear from Dignity Moves and from Home First so we can have a balanced presentation and not just Focus Strategies. Tonight, I cannot support this item without that.”

“So, we need to postpone this,” Thorpe said. “We can’t kick this can down the road. We have to move. We can meet on Friday.”

Torres-Walker then made a motion to postpone the item and Wilson seconded it. “Most votes on homeless have been 3-2 votes,” Thorpe stated. “I keep hearing it’s about this reason or that reason. It’s values. I’m sick and tired of hearing the reasons.”

The motion to postpone then passed 4-1 with Barbanica voting against.

Bicycle Garden concept video screenshot. Source: City of Antioch

Bicycle Garden Design Funding & Location Approved

Antioch Parks and Recreation Director Brad Helfenberger provided a presentation on the proposed Bicycle Garden and said the Contra Costa Transportation Authority would be the lead agency on the project.  Bicycle Garden staff report & presentation ACC042622

During discussion about the Bicycle Park, the council chose the location of Prewett Family Park for the Bicycle Garden and to spend up to $550,000 for planning and design by San Francisco-based T.Y. Lin International, the global civil and structural infrastructure engineering firm that designed the Eastern Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The funds are not currently in the budget but will be spent from the General Fund.

Council members were then asked their top two preferred locations. Torres-Walker and Barbanica supported Gentrytown Park as their first choice and Prewett Family Park as their second for the location. But Ogorchock, Wilson and Thorpe supported Prewett as their first choice and Gentrytown as their second choice.

“So, Prewett moves forward,” Thorpe said.

The council then approved the expenditure and location on a 5-0 vote.

Proposed organizational chart for new city department. Source: City of Antioch

Formation of New Department Also Postponed

The council then discussed the formation of the proposed Department of Public Safety and Community Resources.  (See related articles here and hereNew department formation staff report ACC042622

Ogorchock asked to change the name to Public Services.

“As one of the committee members, of course I’m in support of this,” Wilson said.

“I would like to see this come back and have staff develop a policy on the Department of Public Safety and Community Resources,” Torres-Walker said. She also wanted the director’s position included in the ordinance.

“Not including it doesn’t mean you can’t hire one,” City Attorney Thomas L. Smith stated.

“Do we normally include the positions in an ordinance?” Thorpe asked.

“Sometimes we include the top positions. You don’t have to. You can leave it out.” Smith responded.

“I don’t think it needs to be in the ordinance. Staff needs flexibility. I think that’s too much,” Thorpe stated.

“If it doesn’t have to come back in the ordinance and can come back another way, through the budget, I’m fine with that,” Torres-Walker said.

Proposed staffing chart for new city department. Source: City of Antioch

“I get what the mayor is saying. I’m happy to move this process forward,” Wilson said.

“So, everyone is in support of moving this forward?” Thorpe asked.

“I’ve been consistent ‘no’ on this,” Barbanica said.

“So, is that three in favor and two opposed?” Smith asked.

Thorpe said he was going to abstain.

“Should I bring the ordinance back?” Smith asked.

“We’ve been having these discussions in closed session. I’d prefer to get some of that worked out, first then bring it back,” Thorpe said.

So, the formation of the new department was postponed until an unspecified time in the future.

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Help Keep Antioch Beautiful during park cleanup Saturday, April 23

Friday, April 15th, 2022

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Save Mount Diablo opens its Mangini Ranch Educational Preserve to the public

Saturday, April 2nd, 2022

Students gather around a giant oak at the Mangini Ranch Educational Preserve. Photo: Scott Hein.

First of its kind in Contra Costa County; 207.8-acre preserve available for free to local schools, groups

By Laura Kindsvater, Communications Manager, Save Mount Diablo

On March 30, 2022, Save Mount Diablo opened its Mangini Ranch Educational Preserve to the public, the first of its kind in Contra Costa County. People gathered at a special ceremony at the preserve during which Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan and Save Mount Diablo Board President Jim Felton cut the ribbon to celebrate the opening.

The 207.8-acre preserve is situated between the Crystyl Ranch residential development in Concord and Lime Ridge Open Space in Walnut Creek.

Save Mount Diablo’s Mangini Ranch Educational Preserve is available for reservations free of charge to a variety of local schools and community groups, of all ages and backgrounds, pursuing educational purposes. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • environmental science classes
  • nature photography courses
  • yoga classes
  • plein-air artists gatherings
  • addiction recovery groups
  • acoustic music in nature ensembles
  • meditation classes
  • grief counseling support groups
  • church groups
  • homeowners association groups
  • hiking, trail running, and mountain bike clubs

Interested groups can submit a request to reserve the property for a day up to six months in advance by utilizing the online form on Save Mount Diablo’s website. The size of a group must be at least three people to no larger than 100 people. The preserve is day-use only (no camping). The preserve is day-use only (no camping). Location and access will be provided upon reservation. A docent will be on-sight to provide access, an overview of the property and any assistance.

The preserve includes grassland, stream canyons, blue oak woodland, chaparral, and oak savannas.

It’s home to rare species such as the northernmost stand of desert olive, rare Hospital Canyon larkspur, and threatened Alameda whipsnake. Deer, coyote, burrowing owls, kestrels, and lots of other wildlife live here too.

The preserve’s high ridgeline provides views of most of central Contra Costa County and to Marin, Sonoma, and Solano counties.

As you move away from the staging area of the preserve and into the open space along Galindo Creek and up the ridgeline, the sounds of cars and radios fade. They become birdsong and gentle breezes rustling through trees.

Here you will find you are transported into another space where senses are heightened and connecting to nature is inevitable.

About Save Mount Diablo

Save Mount Diablo is a nationally accredited, nonprofit land trust founded in 1971 with a mission

to preserve Mount Diablo’s peaks, surrounding foothills, watersheds, and connection to the Diablo Range through land acquisition and preservation strategies designed to protect the mountain’s natural beauty, biological diversity, and historic and agricultural heritage; enhance our area’s quality of life; and provide educational and recreational opportunities consistent with protection of natural resources. To learn more, please visit www.savemountdiablo.org.

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