It's a new day for our East Bay Regional Parks especially in the face of the COVID 19 pandemic. The East Bay Regional Parks has come to be recognized by the Health Departments of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties as an essential service to the 2.4 million residents of the East Bay. You have elected me to serve as the Ward 2 Board Member to bring our Parks forward into the future, opening new and maintaining existing facilities to all our communities and the next generation. My 37 years of experience as a Park Ranger, Park Supervisor, and Firefighter in our Parks has provided guidance in maintaining our parks during this pandemic.
We continue to acquire new land, and I look forward to opening these new parklands to all communities. In Ward 2, we are looking forward to opening the Judge John Sutter Regional Shoreline Park at the base of the eastern span of the Bay Bridge in West Oakland. In Contra Costa, we are working to open the donated McCosker Ranch and the adjacent Western Hills which was the result of mitigation for the Wilder development in Orinda and that will expand the Sibley/Huckleberry Preserve to the border with our neighbors of Orinda and Moraga. Also in the works, we have completed a lease agreement with the Port of Oakland and the City of Oakland to expand the Bay Trail along the Oakland Estuary at the Crowley Property. In conjunction with Director Ellen Corbett in Ward 4, we are looking to extend safe trail access from the MLK center along Doolittle Drive, and working with the City of Oakland and Alameda County Flood Control to extend the San Leandro Creek Trail into East Oakland, and develop new parkland adjacent to the Tidewater Recreation Center.
Infrastructure needs are a priority as well in Ward 2. The pool facilities at Roberts Regional Recreation Area are in need of total rehabilitation. We are looking to expand the number of lanes from 5-7 and improve the bathhouse. Lake Temescal has been affected by blue-green algae infestations resulting in closures to swimming. A feasibility study has recommended the lake be dredged from its present depth of 12 feet to 35 feet. Both projects will need creative funding to get planned and completed. In Contra Costa we await the results of litigation to begin repairing the Lafayette-Moraga Trail that was damaged by a landslide in Moraga.
The programs for the areas school children to access our parks was on a successful uptrend, but we ran into the problem of transportation. Our programs outstripped the capacity of the charter bus systems in both counties. So, the District enhanced its ability to bring nature to the schools using two traveling nature centers and an aquarium. That was pre-Covid. Currently, our Naturalists are providing online opportunities to teach Nature.
Last, but not least the maintenance of the Fuel Break in the Wildland Urban Interface continues to be a priority. The wildfire season is longer as our region-wide drought continues and the control of vegetation along our ridgetops is crucial in reducing the intensity of future fires. Last year the District did an initial treatment on 110 acres and continued maintenance on previously treated 800 acres and starting planning for an additional 40 acres for initial treatments in designated FEMA funded sites. In this work, I am advocating for alternatives to pesticides that are used for stump treatments. Thanks to you the voters in passing Measure FF to extend the 2004 Measure CC a million dollars a year will continue to fund maintenance of the Fuel Break. We are also actively engaged in obtaining State and Federal funds to expand our work.
I know what it takes to develop and staff the Parks to ensure that they are safe, accessible, and successful. I know we should be planning for droughts and climate change, not merely responding. I have the experience in budgeting and planning that will make our Parks successful for generations to come.
The support of neighbors, concessionaires, and volunteers made for a successful campaign.in 2016 and with your continued support I intend to continue my opportunity to guide our Parks into a more accessible, sustainable, and democratic future.
In 2016 I pledged to make the Park District more transparent, to reduce the amount of petrochemical pesticides used in the parks, work for a more diversified workforce, and have a more transparent financial process
Towards a more transparent Park District: Upon taking office in 2017, the BOD meetings were recorded, but only summarized minutes were posted. Consequently in working with my colleagues on the Board, meetings started to be recorded, then posted the next day on the District website. Just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic meetings were conducted with live audio and presently we are conducting recorded live meetings in video with live public comments. I was successful in getting the first hearing of the budget moved to the evening. I will continue to advocate for more evening meetings..
Reducing petrochemical pesticide use: In 2018, we banned the use of Oryzalin. In 2019 along with my colleagues on the Board of Directors, we banned the use of Glyphosate (Round-up) in high public use areas-picnic, play structures, and trailheads to be accomplished by the end of 2020. The District publishes an annual Integrated Pest Management report and you can see that we are transitioning more to safer alternatives.
For a more diversified workforce: I have been an active participant alongside former Director Dotson, in the District’s Workforce Diversity Committee and I am encouraged that the Park District is starting to head in the right direction and I will continue to advocate that the Park District move towards a more diverse workforce. The Board of Directors passed a resolution recognizing that all of our employees have a right to a safe and non-discriminatory workplace regardless of race or gender affiliation.
In recognition of our Union employees represented by AFSCME 2428 and the Police Officers Association, the Board passed a resolution in support of the right to organize and negotiate on behalf of their constituents. Union employees continue to be the backbone of the District and I am grateful for their dedication and service.
For a more transparent financial process: The Chief Financial Officer has proven to be dedicated and knowledgeable in running the finance department and together with my colleagues on the Board of Directors, we have created a conservative approach to investments; including Socially Responsible investments, creating a Green Bond, setting aside surplus funds to offset future pension increases, future equipment and facility replacements/repair. The COVID-19 pandemic will test our creativity in our goal to acquire and manage our parklands and to keep our employees safe and working.
Honoring Dr. Aurelia Reinhardt: In 2019, I was successful in getting a resolution to rename Redwood Park in honor of Dr. Aurelia Reinhardt, the first woman elected to the first Board of Directors. The former President of Mills College was a champion of the environment, Redwoods in particular, and her acknowledgment was long overdue and in time to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote.
The Pandemic has brought our Parks to the forefront and has become the centerpiece of our region. as our trails and open spaces serve as an essential service providing relief in this time of stress. I will continue to ensure that we maintain our environmental ethics and provide a safe and accessible and sustainable future. It’s a new day and a new era – Stay Safe.