Also in attendance were Knightsen Elementary School District Superintendent Vickey Rinehart, East Contra Costa Fire Protection District Chief Hugh Henderson and former KTAC Chair Seth Cockrell.
“It was a great opportunity to celebrate and recognize two significant achievements in the Knightsen community,” said Piepho. “I am thrilled that we could find a way to complete the downtown Knightsen sidewalk project with the use of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, American Recovery Reinvestment Act funds and county local road monies. I am also extremely pleased that we could preserve a piece of the history in the Knightsen community by preserving the landmark eucalyptus as a Heritage Tree.”
The sidewalk renovation began with a search for funding in late 2006. The Knightsen Garden Club was successful in 2008 in securing a CDBG funds in the amount of $50,000. An additional $50,000 in CDBG funds were secured under the American Recovery Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the remainder of the project was funded by the Public Works Department.
The project included the replacement of approximately 250 feet of deteriorating irregular concrete to provide a safe and accessible pedestrian route along Knightsen Avenue. The work began in late July of 2009 and was completed ahead of schedule.
The application to designate the 84-inch diameter eucalyptus tree, located at the intersection of Delta Road and Bartels Drive, as a Heritage Tree was received from KTAC by the Department of Conservation and Development on June 30, 2008. The application was recommended 4-1 by the East County Planning Commission at its November 10, 2008 meeting. The Heritage Tree status was unanimously approved by the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors on April 21, 2009.
The tree is believed to have been planted more than a century ago by Knightsen founder George W. Knight, who used it to mark his land. The Swainson’s hawk, a threatened species, is believed to be nesting in the tree. The Heritage Tree project was a response to concerns that arose last spring when the tree was pruned, and the desire for its preservation as a community landmark and an object of ecological and historical significance.