Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

March 15, 2005 > New Park District Plan Proposed

New Park District Plan Proposed

by Lance Dwyer

On Tuesday, March 8 roughly two dozen Tri-city community members gathered to discuss the future of the Coyote Hills Regional Park.

Under the leadership of Brian Wiese, chief of Planning and Stewardship for the East Bay Regional Park District, a plan has been proposed to upgrade, improve and reorganize the land in the popular park.

The meeting was held in Fremont at the Los Cerritos Community Center. Karen Parsons, one of the co-authors of the plan, gave a thorough presentation demonstrating through the use of slides the ways the proposed changes will potentially improve the park.

Much of the Land Use Plan is geared toward improving the park's physical makeup, with the intention of making it more aesthetically appealing and accessible. One such example is the proposal to control and restrict the growth of cattails, a weed-like grass that hinders the environment and disrupts visibility of the park.

Furthermore, the plan would seek to prune non-native trees that surround the marsh, while developing the most effective means possible of protecting he Native American shell mound area that contains gravesites that have fallen prey to eroding.

Although the proposed points will have a great deal of impact on the park, Parsons stressed the committees' desire to keep development low, allowing for the natural aspect of the park to remain emphasized. Should the Land Use Plan be put into effect, only 2.7 percent of the park will be developed for recreational use, said Parsons.

A few more logistical aspects of the Land Use Plan include improving trails, creating more parking spots and picnic areas, and upgrading the infrastructure of the visitors center. Parsons mentioned that the plan would have a long-term goal of building a new visitors center in a location that will be carefully researched.

Wiese was pleased with the end result of the meeting. "It's always good to see how the public reacts to this plan and I felt we got some very positive and supportive comments," said Wiese. "It's important for us to hear from the people who use the park and are familiar with it from a different viewpoint than our own."

One of the most pertinent responses from the community came from a woman who has been a birder at the park for more than 30 years. She said that she would hope that park planners keep the "footprints" of human beings down to a minimum.

She expressed particular concern for the area of the park known as Willow Run, saying that picnic areas and other recreational development should be kept at least 150 feet away from the creek. According to the woman, remnants of willow trees extend to a 150 feet radius from the creek and these willow trees are very important to wildlife.

Responses received from the meeting and any others offered from the community will be taken into consideration for revision of the plan, up until March 18. The Land Use Plan is tentatively set to be presented to the East Bay Regional Park District Board of Directors for approval on April 19.

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