Park District Halts Plan for Hilltop Offices
Thursday, 28 January 2016 10:02
The park district set up poles and lines to show the outline of the proposed building they planned to build atop Fairmont Ridge.

By Amy Sylvestri • San Leandro Times
After considerable public outcry, the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) is halting plans to build a new emergency services headquarters at the old Nike missile site at the top of the hill in Lake Chabot Park.

In the 1950s and ’60s the site was one of a number of missile bases around the bay, built to shoot down Russian bombers. The old missile site buildings can still be seen from San Leandro, looking up to the top of the hill.

The EBRPD wanted to revamp their current facilities along the Fairmont Ridge and build some new buildings – they announced plans for a new $21 million campus including a three-story public safety building and a 7,000-square-foot machine shop in a style their architects called “park rustic.”

But many people complained about what the new construction would look like on the ridge and how it would affect the park and wildlife.

The new construction would’ve been visible on the hill from over a mile away. When the district put up sight-poles to demonstrate where the buildings would go, people weren’t happy.

“It became very clear to us that the plans were not popular with residents,” said Carolyn Jones, EBRPD spokeswoman. “People had a lot of issues and members of our board determined that the plan couldn’t move forward as-is.”

So the district has withdrawn its permit application for the construction.

Jones said she didn’t know whether a new site for the headquarters may be found or if the Nike site would still be used with alternative construction plans.

Locations in Oakland, Pleasanton, and Dublin have been considered by the district but ultimately they say Lake Chabot is the best fit.

Most people who live near Lake Chabot they understood the district’s need for upgraded facilities, but they don’t feel the large buildings and increased traffic would be good for the area.

“We would like to thank the East Bay Regional Park District for withdrawing the current campus project from the Lake Chabot location,” said neighbor Jeff Panero. “We fully support the need for the new updated facilities, but do not support the facilities being built at Lake Chabot. This industrial project is much too large and inappropriate to be built at any regional park.”

Nearby resident Terry Liebowitz said she was glad to see the public campaign to stop the construction work.

“It was fabulous to see democracy in action,” said Liebowitz. “The community did its homework, and the park district listened.”

Now, it will be several months at the very earliest before any new plans for the district’s safety headquarters are made.

“It’s back to the drawing board at this point,” said Jones. “We do need a new police station and other facilities, but we also want to be good neighbors.”



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