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Jean Sweeney Open Space Park Fund

City Council Approves Master Design
July 15, 2014

Adoption of Resolution Approving the Jean Sweeney Open Space Park Mitigated Negative Declaration and Master Plan. (Recreation and Parks 310.05)

Presentation by Amy Wooldridge: Click Here
Exhibit 1 - Park Master Plan: Click Here
Exhibit 2 - Mitigated Negative Declaration: Click Here
Resolution passed unanimously by the City Council Click Here
Letter submitted by Jim Sweeney Click Here
Public submitted correspondence Click Here
Additional public correspondence Click Here
Video: City Council Meeting Click Here

To: Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council

From: John A. Russo, City Manager

Re: Approval of the Jean Sweeney Park Master Plan Following Approval of a Mitigated Negative Declaration for the Master Plan.


The City of Alameda has a unique opportunity to plan and design a new community park at the 22-acre Jean Sweeney Open Space Park (Sweeney Park) located in Central Alameda. This site is the former Alameda Beltline Railroad property that was secured by the City at its original purchase price due in significant part to the advocacy efforts of long-time resident Jean Sweeney. The property is bounded by Constitution Way, Atlantic Avenue, and Sherman Street.

In May, 2013, the City Council approved six recreation use types for Sweeney Park following an extensive community input process. These include:

1. Walk and bike trails;
2. Natural open space;
3. Picnic areas;
4. Community gardens;
5. Natural playgrounds; and
6. Open lawn areas.

In November and December, 2013, the draft Master Plan was presented to the Commission on Disability Issues, Planning Board, Transportation Commission, Housing Authority, Youth Advisory Commission, Recreation and Park Commission, the Jean Sweeney Open Space Park Planning Committee, and Community Garden Steering Committee. Input and recommendations from these meetings were incorporated into the final Master Plan design (Exhibit 1).

Local resident and architect, Kristoffer Köster of KKDesign, developed the Jean Sweeney Open Space Park Master Plan pro bono. This provided significant savings to the project, in addition to a funding match for future grant applications.


The overall strategy of the Master Plan design is to group the more active uses on the outside edges of the property, and retain the majority of the center as open space and trails. The Cross Alameda Trail, a City Council-approved pedestrian and bicycle trail running the length of the Island, is located on the northern edge of the property, away from the neighborhoods. There is a tree buffer along the southern edge, to act as a natural sound barrier for the residential area. Parking lots are located on each side of the property, with 120 total spaces, in order to provide enough available space to draw parking away from residential areas.

The railbanking agreement, through which the land was secured, requires a right of way for future transit. This 30 foot right of way is designated along the northern border between the Cross Alameda Trail and the park boundary.

There is a wide variety of walking and bicycling trails throughout the park. The Cross Alameda Trail is a wide, lighted and paved trail that is 21 feet across with dedicated bike lanes for each direction, a pedestrian lane, and a jogging lane paved with decomposed granite. There is also a smaller walking/biking trail on the south side that connects to form a one-mile loop. There are several north/south connectors, two of which connect to existing pathways through the Marina Village Business Park and provide direct neighborhood and park access to the shopping center and Bay Trail. There are also numerous pedestrian-only trails that meander through the natural areas.

Predominant features of the park include:
· Active use areas on the east and west sides. Each area has a parking lot, restroom, and natural-based playground.
· Picnic area with a gazebo, open lawn, and picnic pavilion. This provides an area for community rentals, however no amplified sound will be allowed.
· Outdoor classroom adjacent to the community garden for use by schools and the College of Alameda for students studying the interpretive trails, botany and natural space.
· Natural open space throughout the central portion.
· A bike skills loop with elements and obstacles to provide recreation and improved bike skills.
· A seasonal creek that serves as a retention basin for storm drainage.
· Picnic tables, benches, and bicycle racks located throughout the park.
· A one-acre, fenced community garden with plots available to Alameda residents.
· One-acre of demonstration gardens and urban orchard.
· Educational signage on the railroad history and local biology.
· Public art at the main entry points.

The community garden is a collaborative effort among several local non-profits. These agencies comprise the Community Garden Steering Committee including the Alameda Backyard Growers, Alameda County Master Gardeners, Project Leaf, Alameda Food Bank, and Supervisor Wilma Chan. This committee determined the three primary purposes of the garden to be:
1) Plots for Alameda residents;
2) Information and education; and
3) Addressing food insecurity in Alameda by providing Food Bank constituents with plots, gardening skills, and fresh fruit and vegetables.

The project is planned to be as environmentally responsible as is feasible. This includes solar powered lighting and solar trash compactors; keeping existing live oak trees and planting new ones; installing drip irrigation; utilizing drought-tolerating plants; reusing materials onsite; and filtering all storm water onsite through the use of bioswales and the seasonal creek.

Once the Master Plan conceptual design is approved, it will then serve as the road map for fundraising, detailed design and park development. The park is currently unfunded, although there are pending funds through state grant applications and developer fees. The timeline for detailed design and construction are dependent upon securing funding.

The Recreation and Park Commission recommended the Jean Sweeney Open Space Park Master Plan to City Council on April 10, 2014 with the additional specification that plantings will be predominantly California natives. The Planning Board recommended the Master Plan to City Council on June 23, 2014.


There is no financial impact to the City as a result of approving the master plan. Future detailed design and construction is anticipated to be funded through grants, developer fees, and private donations. The total project construction is estimated to be $8 Million. Ongoing maintenance is estimated to require 2.5 full-time equivalent Park Maintenance staff, in addition expenses for utilities and supplies, for a total annual estimate of $275,000. Options to fund ongoing maintenance are being considered.


This action does not affect the Alameda Municipal Code.


Approval of a park master plan is a project under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The City of Alameda prepared and circulated a draft Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) evaluating the potential environmental impacts of the proposed project (Exhibit 2). The draft MND finds that the park project has minimal environmental impacts, and those that do occur are related to the construction period (e.g. dust, construction traffic, etc.) Those potential impacts are identified and mitigations are recommended to minimize those impacts. No public comments were received on the draft MND as of July 1, 2014 when the public review period closed.


Approval of the Jean Sweeney Park Master Plan following approval of a Mitigated Negative Declaration for the Master Plan.

Respectfully submitted, Amy Wooldridge, Recreation and Park Director

Financial Impact section reviewed, Fred Marsh, Finance Director

1. Jean Sweeney Open Space Park Master Plan
2. Initial Study / Mitigated Negative Declaration

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Published on:  July 18, 2014