A conceptual drawing of Cooley Landing-Courtesy of the Cooley Landing Park Project. Click image to enlarge.
At a time when budget cuts and stories about crime dominate the news, the City of East Palo Alto shared good news with its residents this week. The city announced that it had received a $5 million grant to complete its goal of turning Cooley Landing, which was a toxic dump located at the end of the city, into a park.
The grant was awarded by the State of California Department of Parks and Recreation under a program that is designed to assist underserved communities throughout California in their efforts to create new parks and recreation facilities.
The city's Mayor Laura Martinez said that the grant award was crucial to the completion of the park project and she said, “ I am so thrilled that East Palo Alto was selected for the grant.“
The latest grant award, which was announced on March 6, is one of a handful of key grants that East Palo Alto has received for the Cooley Landing Park Project over the years. But, with this last award, East Palo Alto seems to have hit the jackpot. According to the figures that were released with the announcement of the award, there were more than 400 applicants vying to receive a grant from the state agency with an average grant of $2.9 million being awarded.
The latest round of funding is expected, as Martinez stated, to lead to the final completion of all of the work that is slated to transform the 8.5 acre Cooley Landing site at the end of Bay Road, into the scenic parkland that is envisioned.
The long awaited transformation of Cooley Landing has been underway for nearly a decade. The actual restoration process started formally in 2003, when the City of East Palo Alto began a series of community meetings to hear what the city's residents wanted to see on the site. At the end of the process, there was a consensus: the residents wanted Cooley Landing to become a public park that had a nature preserve, walking trails and scenic views.
Last December, the City of East Palo Alto and the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District held a ceremony to formally break ground to start the phase of the work that would detoxify the soil in the eighty-year old site.
Amazingly, the Cooley Landing Park is already a reality and plans are currently underway to open the park to the public this summer. According to the Cooley Landing Project Manager, Shannon Alford, Cooley Landing Park is already "a gorgeous sight. All of the tires, the concrete and the rubbish have been removed. We have made tremendous progress over the past six months," she said.
Alford thinks the quick progress that was being made might have served as a major factor in the $5 million grant award that East Palo Alto received.
In keeping with the current rate of progress underway, the environmental cleanup project is now nearing completion. The other phases of the project, which include the construction of an outdoor classroom, vehicle access improvements, the renovation of a former boathouse into a nature and education facility and trail improvements, will begin in 2013.
With everything going according to schedule, it is estimated that the completion of the Cooley Landing Park Project will increase East Palo Alto's current 16 acres of parkland by 72 percent and will soon provide the city's residents with a variety of needed outdoor recreational activities.
See other East Palo Alto Today articles:
Cooley Landing project gets a major grant, March 23, 2011.
City receives large grant for Cooley Landing, October - November 2010 edition, homepage feature article
Developing Cooley Landing, January - February 2010 edition, homepage feature article