Voters Deserve Better

It’s no wonder City Council and mayoral candidates are focusing on parks this campaign season.

Residents have been up in arms over several park issues in recent years and have had to sponsor three ballot initiatives to keep open space from being developed, most recently at Crab Cove. Just months ago, the city council removed the 18-year-old "regional park" designations from Alameda Point planning maps.

Voters want better.

While our parks’ director secured a special $500,000 grant from the East Bay Regional Park District for a new city park, when it comes to capitalizing on regional park opportunities, especially at Alameda Point, the City Council and Mayor have dropped the ball.

Some years ago, the East Bay Regional Park District had to practically beg the City Council to let it construct a long-completed leg of the Bay Trail near the Encinal Boat Ramp. The park district has also been prepared to assume responsibility for the entire adjacent park there (now referred to as Enterprise Park) that includes a campground, but the city has not invited it to do so. The 1996 Community Reuse Plan lists Enterprise Park as a regional, not a city park.

To this day, the city still does not have the money to refurbish this park, which looks like a wreck. The park district, however, does have money for capital improvements. Measure WW funds approved by voters for Alameda Point are sitting unused and losing value. Even funds for yearly operations could be secured when the park district’s Measure CC comes up for renewal in 2016 — if Enterprise is a regional park.

Over on the 147-acre Northwest Territories, plans for Alameda Point Park are stymied over the city’s demand for money in exchange for turning land over to the park district. This land was received for free from the Navy, with the transfer map designating it for a regional park, no less!

The insistence on money for this land, as well as the resistance to the Crab Cove park expansion, is at odds with the recommendations of the city’s Parks Master Plan. It calls for enhanced partnerships, not enhanced business deals.

Voters are looking for officials who will try to stop the feds’ improper use of eminent domain in our town (on McKay Avenue) by supporting our state Attorney General, and who will encourage the regional park district to spend its dollars on developing parks rather than purchasing land.

Hopefully the candidates who get elected will not just state their love of parks, but will follow through with the actions necessary to develop them.

Read more of Irene Dieter’s writings online at islesay.wordpress.com.