By Ashly McGlone
SAN LEANDRO -- Residents on Estudillo Avenue near Chabot Dam can breathe a little easier: Seismic upgrades to the dam next year won't send hundreds of dirt-filled trucks down their street each day for weeks.
Officials with the East Bay Municipal Utility District are no longer considering a plan that would have stockpiled excavated dirt from the dam off-site while seismic upgrades are made to the dam and outlet tower. The district must replace unstable soil next to the dam wall and reinforce its outlet tower to ensure proper operation in a large earthquake, needs identified in a 2005 seismic study.
In a notice released Friday, the district outlines two options still under consideration that will be studied in an environmental impact report. Both will result in a yearlong closure of city-operated Chabot Park beginning in the fall of 2014.
One would store a portion of the more 100,000 cubic yards of soil to be excavated in Chabot Park. The rest would be stockpiled outside the park boundaries, near the now-empty filter ponds built in 1890 and once used to treat water sent to surrounding communities.
The second option would stockpile no more than 39,000 cubic yards of dirt and dirt-cement mixture at the filter pond site. That dirt mixture would be returned to the dam. The rest would be treated with cement and water at the foot of the dam.
The first option drew criticism from a city official at a joint meeting Monday of city and school district officials.
Carolyn Knudtson, city recreation and human services director, told attendees that storing the dirt in the park would "completely decimate Chabot Park."
In a later interview, Knudtson explained that she was concerned because the district would have to remove trees and the stored dirt would damage park grounds.
"If they cover the field, they will have to redo the whole field. If they cover the amphitheater, they will have to redo the amphitheater," she said. "Wherever they pile it, those areas will not be usable as before. They will have to be replaced."
Previous district estimates indicated the total amount of dirt to be excavated for the project could cover a football field with dirt 56 feet high.
"If they do literally decimate Chabot Park as we know it, (we will be) looking at how it gets put back together," Knudtson said.
The city estimates at least 4,000 people visit the 10-acre park each year, which features a 190-person group picnic area, smaller picnic areas with barbecue pits, a large grass field, play equipment, volleyball court, amphitheater and restrooms.
The utility district is seeking input on what should be studied in the project's environmental report. Responses can be sent to district planner Gwen Allie at email@example.com by May 27.
Ashly McGlone covers San Leandro, San Lorenzo and the Washington Township Health Care District. Contact her at 510-293-2463. Follow her at Twitter.com/ashlyreports.