A four-year effort to transform a former quarry into a 91-acre regional park has suffered more setbacks as park officials ruled out plans to turn the quarry pit into a fishing lake and are concerned that the quarry operator will not pay the full cost for park construction, as previously agreed.
The jewel of Dumbarton Quarry Regional Park was to have been a 20-acre fishing lake in the former quarry pit. But after years of study, it recently was determined that there is no viable water source to fill the pit.
Regulatory agencies frowned on a proposal to divert water from two flood-control channels that serve Alameda Creek because that would have left less water in the creek, where efforts are under way to restore steelhead trout, said Mike Anderson, assistant general manager for the East Bay Regional Park District.
Regulatory agencies also were concerned that, with no feasible way for lake water to flow into the bay, the lake would accumulate unhealthy concentrations of metals and salts, making it inhospitable for fish.
"In the end, it just wasn't something that was going to work," Anderson said.
Fremont allowed Dumbarton Quarry Associates in 1996 to continue quarry operations at the pit just north of the Dumbarton Bridge for an additional 10 years on the condition that it pay all costs to transform it into a regional park.
At first it was thought that the park could open shortly after quarry operations ended, but the company struggled for years to come up with a plan to fill the pit with water.
The company is paying for new park designs, which should be released this autumn. But Anderson cautioned Fremont officials that "it is not clear that the company has agreed to honor its commitment" to build a park with the same level of public amenities as the original 1997 concept plan or that it will compensate the district and the city for the fact that the park likely won't open until about a decade after the original estimated completion date.
"There's certainly a concern that we have to nail this down and get this in writing," he said.
Company representatives did not return phone calls last week.
However, Fremont officials said they have faith that the company will build the park.
"Everything I've seen so far tells me they know their obligation, and they're going to fulfill their obligation," Councilman Bill Harrison said.
The company has set aside funds for the park with both the city and park district, but those funds likely won't be enough to build the park, officials said.
When the company agreed to build the park more than a decade ago, water regulations were less stringent.
Initial plans for the park proposed nature trails, including one to nearby Coyote Hills Regional Park, grass fields and recreational vehicle and tent camping. With the 300-foot-deep quarry pit now likely to be filled in over time with dirt and rocks from construction projects, the question becomes what to do with that land.
It's possible that athletic fields could be built at the former lake site, Fremont associate planner Scott Ruhland said.
Noting that Fremont already is home to Lake Elizabeth and Quarry Lakes Regional Park, Harrison said he didn't think the lake's demise was a big blow to local park enthusiasts. "I would want something that we don't already have," he said.
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-353-7002. For more Fremont news, go to IBAbuzz.com/tricitybeat.