The area for the Cowell Ranch/John Marsh State Historic Park is located near the Highway 4 Bypass and Marsh Creek Road. Officials from the California State Parks’ Diablo Vista District and the City of Brentwood Parks and Recreation Department held a third public meeting recently to review the general plan and environmental impact. The first two meetings were held in 2007 and 2006.
Roland Gaebert, a sector superintendent for the Diablo Vista District, said the public was satisfied with the overall plan for the park and excited about what it could bring to the community.
About 35 to 40 people showed up at the Brentwood Senior Activity Center to examine the documents and ask questions.
“It was a very good, engaging meeting with the public,” Gaebert said. “The general feeling was very positive, very forward looking. Especially given these times when the financial times are so difficult, it was nice to see a community coming together and having a very positive outlook.”
The preliminary general plan for the park provides for roughly 3,600 acres in an area north of Round Valley Regional Park and the Los Vaqueros Watershed. About 60 acres, Gaebert said, are within Brentwood city limits.
If approved, the park could feature a rehabilitated John Marsh House, trails, parking, restrooms, campsites, a visitor center, picnic facilities, a ranger station and several other amenities.
“We are very happy with the plan to include the John Marsh House as a centerpiece of learning in the park,” said Alexandra Ghiozzi, a board member on the John Marsh Historic Trust. “The plan will benefit not only Brentwood residents, but all Californians who visit the park. They will have a chance to experience great recreational activities and learn about a true California pioneer.”
The preliminary general plan calls for the facility to be used for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, picnicking, wildlife viewing and environmental study.
Some land might also be available for organic farming. “I think parklands are getting less and less available as the urban sprawl continues,” Gaebert said. “This is really an opportunity to take over 3,000 acres and turn it into an environment that will both preserve the cultural value that’s evident in that area as well as the natural resources.”
The next step, Gaebert said, is to take public comment into consideration and submit a finalized general plan to the state parks commission, likely in the spring. However, Gaebert wasn’t sure how much money would be available for the park, which might need to be opened in phases.
Gaebert wasn’t sure how much the park would cost, as it’s hard to put a price tag on it right now. “It depends on funds being available to make the opening happen,” he said. “The purpose of the general plan is to identify and envision cultural and natural resources, making it available to the public.”
The preliminary general plan and draft EIR are available for public review online until Dec. 9 at www.parks.ca.gov or at the Brentwood Public Library, 104 Oak St.