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July 8, 2009 > Dumbarton Quarry Park construction delayed

Dumbarton Quarry Park construction delayed

By Meenu Gupta

Transformation of a desolate site at the Dumbarton quarry into a new park has been delayed. Located at the end of Quarry Road off Paseo Padre Parkway, just northwest of Highway 84, the park is tentatively named "Dumbarton Quarry Park." This new facility is nestled next to Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont.

Ten years ago, DeSilva Gates, operators of the quarry, used the crushed rock from this site in its grading operations. When they applied to the city of Fremont to extend their quarry operation, a condition to develop the park was a condition for approval of that extension. The new park was to be developed and constructed by DeSilva Gates and turned over to East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) to own and manage.

The EBRPD controls the design and development as DeSilva Gates actually builds the park. "We are working on supplies to initially fill the lake, and over the long term to refill whatever is lost in dry years and to evaporation. Filling the lake takes a large volume of water. After hydrologic studies, we found that the intended sources of Alameda County flood Control Channels P and K would not be adequate," said Dumbarton Quarry Associates General Manager, Bob McCarrick. "We have recently begun discussions with the Alameda County Water District, but they cannot guarantee the full allotment."

"We have even studied the possibility of diverting a portion of the winter flow of Alameda Creek. However, there are species issues in the creek and the wetlands as the source location may potentially be brackish water," he said. Brackish water has a level of salinity between freshwater and seawater. In many places around the world, brackish water appears naturally, and it forms an important habitat for some unique animal species. However, it can cause environmental damage, since it is harmful for organisms which have not adapted to it. This could become an issue for the various wetland species in the marsh area and Steelhead in the Creek.

"It appears that a combination of ACWD (Alameda County Water District) well water and the Flood Control Channels P and K will be the solution," McCarrick indicated. "Our consultants are currently working on this. We have been importing soil to the site and are confident that we will be able to obtain adequate topsoil." To fill the existing 300-foot deep quarry pit with freshwater to support fishing, diversion of flood water from the Alameda Creek channel has been studied as a potential source. Getting water from the Alameda Creek channel would also increase the flood control capacity of the wetlands in Coyote Hills Regional Park and allow for the flushing of the marshes with fresh and brackish water to help control cattails. Supplying the water for the new lake will also improve the existing wetland habitat for the many birds that rest there.

"We are working toward a solution that will benefit several ecosystems, which is why it is not a simple solution. The EBRPD is helping us to improve the salt water / fresh water balance in the marshes," he said. "Our consultants are working with the ACFCD (Alameda County Flood Control District), ACWD (Alameda County Water District) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in addition to the East Bay Regional Park District. As it gets further along the process, other agencies like California Department of Fish and Game and the City of Fremont will all have increased involvement."

The 30-acre lake is the centerpiece of the park. A 6-acre meadow adjacent to the lake will provide space for family recreation and a 5-acre campsite east of the hills will be sheltered from wind to provide overnight campsites. Trees will also provide additional wind shelter. Parking for approximately 300 cars is placed on the east side of the park with access by a two way road and a separate 10' wide bike trail. Earth mounds are placed to shield the 1.2 acre corporation yard from views and buffer the edges of the campground and parking areas. Many large boulders will be placed at the toe of slopes, at the entrance road, and to be along the water's edge to give strength to the park landscape.

"It is difficult to say a firm date when the park is expected to open until we get through the negotiations," said McCarrick. The park will provide a variety of uses and links to biking and hiking trails, a legacy of conservation and recreation that planners say is worth the wait.

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