OAKLAND -- A long-term road map to expand the East Bay Regional Park District system with 16 potential new park sites was approved Tuesday by the agency's board.
Only one of the 16 proposed parks stirred controversy -- the Tesla site east of Livermore. Some district critics said they fear listing Tesla as a potential regional park could undermine state attempts to use the area to expand an off-road vehicle park. But district supporters said the one-time coal mining area and town site has rich habitat and cultural resources that warrant protection as a park.
Other potential new park sites include the Alvarado wetlands near Fremont, the Oakland shoreline at the foot of the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, a closed portion of the Concord Naval Weapons Station, part of Jersey Island north of Oakley, and a series of now-active gravel pits in Pleasanton.
The vote was 7-0 to approve the master plan, a vision of long-term goals and policies for the park system.
Before it can buy land in an area, the district must first list it as a potential park site.
Eleven people spoke Tuesday afternoon, with more than half weighing in on Tesla.
Don Amador, an off-road vehicle advocate from Oakley, said it is wrong to designate Tesla as a regional park site because the label conflicts with the state park system's plan to use the area to expand the Carnegie off-road vehicle park.
"The park district is interfering with the state's efforts to expand Carnegie," Amador told the park board. "Please take Tesla off your map."
David Duffin, an Alameda resident and advocate for off-road vehicles, noted that the state park system purchased the Tesla property with fees collected from off-road vehicle users in California. "We don't know how our property ended up in your master plan," Duffin said.
Jerry Fouts of Oakdale said the park district is shutting out the interests of off-road vehicle users because their activity does not "fit your narrow view of what recreation should be."
Calling the regional park agency elitist, Fouts noted the park system has no areas for off-road vehicle users.
Park district managers said they listed Tesla as a potential park because it has valuable wildlife habitat and Native American cultural resources. The regional park system would like to be involved with Tesla in case the state Parks and Recreation Department determines that some of the Tesla site should be preserved, park officials said.
David Furst, a Livermore resident, urged the park district to keep Tesla as a park site to protect its environmental and cultural resources.
Keeping Tesla on the list of potential regional park sites also was supported in a letter by three members of the Alameda County Parks and Recreation Commission -- Al Minard, Stephen Sanger and David Tam.
Ayn Wieskamp, a regional park board member from Livermore, said many members of the public have told her they are concerned about protecting Tesla's natural and cultural resources. "We want to make sure we're treating everyone in a fair and level way," Wieskamp said.
Several hikers and mountain bicyclists said they were pleased the master plan envisions more places and opportunities for their activities.
In one policy shift, the new master plan opens the door for establishing narrow trails that mountain bicyclists could use.
Michael Mejia, president of the Bicycle Trails Council of the East Bay, applauded the park district for its patience over the decades in dealing with mountain bikers.
"In 28 years, we have cleaned up pretty good," Mejia told the board. "Now we are grandparents. We all have come a long way."
To view the new master plan, visit www.ebparks.org/planning/mp