A 13 year dream of a waterfront regional park came into sharper focus at a recent Oakley City Council meeting.
Although the new plan fleshed out a lot more details, the city is still searching for the estimated $60 million required to pay for it. City staff, are hoping to submit an application in August for funding through Proposition 68.
Prop 68 — the $4.1 billion California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection and Outdoor Access for All Act of 2018 — was approved by voters in June, 2018. Prop 68’s objectives include creating parks, enhancing river parkways, and protecting coastal forests and wetlands. It also provides funding for outdoor access, lower-cost coastal accommodations and climate adaptation. An allocation of $204.8 million was earmarked specifically for California’s Coastal Conservancy for various purposes.
“We need a heavy dose of grant funding to make this a reality,” Kevin Rohani, the public works director told the council, noting that the project is the costliest development on the city’s wish list. Rohani said city staff and consultants had gone the extra mile to solicit community ideas, large and small, adding, “This park is going to be a jewel for the community for years to come.”
The updated 57-acre master plan for the Oakley Regional Park on Sellers Avenue — first envisioned in 2006 — was presented by Brian Fletcher from consultants Callander Associates, and featured feedback from the community, city council and staff that had been gathered after the last 2016 plan was aired.
The new plan focuses on a five-phase process to reach final build-out. Phase one includes multi-use sports fields for little league, baseball, soccer, lacrosse or other sports, parking, trails and a score-keeper building on the west side of the park. Phase two would include a maintenance building and trailhead parking. Phase three would feature a central, open meadow with a concession and restroom facility, pavilion stage, playground, group picnic area and parking. Phase four would include a boat house and kayak launch, riverfront beach, multi-use trail and interpretive center and classroom. And phase five includes the historic Gilbert House, event lawn, administration building, community garden, agricultural fields and concession stand and restroom.
Mayor Claire Alaura admitted after the meeting that, since its inception, the central problem with the park proposal has always been how to pay for it. She dismissed any possibility of raising funds through a public bond initiative, stating that council or community support for such a plan wouldn’t be likely.
“We have to take our time and work on this a little part at a time,” Alaura said. “It’s a long-term project. Partnerships from public and private will be a big key.”