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September 17, 2013 > Faster than a speeding bullet?

Faster than a speeding bullet?

Look out yonder... It's a quarry, it's a lake, it's a park! In 1997 a 10 year extension was granted to operators of the Dumbarton Quarry in exchange for transformation of the property into a park when operations terminated. Plans were unveiled to create an overnight camping and recreation facility that would be the envy of the entire Bay Area. The showpiece of this ambitious project was a 30-acre lake for fishing and boating created by filling the 300+ ft. deep pit created by decades of open pit gravel mining. Where the water would come from and where it would drain was unclear.

Unfortunately, unlike the famous caped crusader of steel, this plan was not faster than a speeding bullet or more powerful than a locomotive, nor able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. It suffered the same fate when confronted with its Kryptonite nemesis... reality. Now, in 2013, it has assumed the disguise of a mild-mannered park that includes camping, recreation, "a 13,000 square foot event center and a 150 person outdoor amphitheater with a camp-fire pit." The massive lake, a small lake, a pond, even a puddle is no more. In place of the lake is a great big hole that took over 40 years to dig and may take a decade to fill.

The technological hurdle of bringing water to fill the hole leads to the question of where to find dirt to fill the same hole. One suggestion is to partially fill it with contaminated soil from a nearby development. The Regional Water Quality Control Board may have something to say about this. It may be that 300 feet down, deadly pesticides will never affect anyone, but the law of unintended consequences is waiting - ready, willing and able.

According to an interview with a representative of Dumbarton Quarry Associates in 2008, even under the previous proposal to fill the pit with water, over 100,000 cubic yards of soil was required to create the landscape envisioned. He noted, "That is enough dirt to cover a football field, from goal line to goal line with soil 56-feet deep."

Fremont City Council is now faced with new, improved plans for the Dumbarton Quarry Park subject to a permit agreement of long ago. East Bay Regional Park District is anxious to convert this barren land into something worthwhile. Now that the bullet of this 91-acre site is finally ready to speed toward a target after a six year delay, what is the consequence of those with grand, yet unfeasible plans of yesteryear? It will take many years - a decade or more - to fill the site even after approval.

The same intransigence and failure to plan wisely, coupled with fear of action has retarded growth and remedial action in other parts the City as well. For example, Centerville still waits for the City to take action, to remove State control of Highway 84 from its heart; the Center Theater is a shell waiting for a creative spark from City officials and the vacant firehouse across the street longs to be a jazz club. An enlightened public/private partnership to make these things happen is possible but only when the City and its citizens decide that action is preferable to hunkering down in a hole of "safe" ignorance.

Who carries the weight and consequences of past delayed, often foolish decisions? When projects are finally completed, will the results have been worth the wait?

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