No matter where you are within the Alameda city limits, you are only a 10- to 15-minute walk away from a park. Think about that. You can enjoy the many benefits of our park system within a few minutes of leaving your home.

We have more than 114 acres of land used for park and recreation facilities in our town, with additional property being developed. A wonderful example of this is the Jean Sweeney Open Space Park. The most recent park design goes to the City Council in early May for approval. The Alameda Recreation and Park Commission recently approved it. A point of interest is a tour planned for the morning of May 3, which is open to the public. Get updates and insights as you walk through the 22 acres and observe the opportunities it offers. The tour is being coordinated with the Alameda Police Department and their "May You Arrive Safely Walk" event that same day.

There are many people who have been involved with the Jean Sweeney Open Space Park project. The support from city management has been outstanding. The guidance and support from the mayor and the City Council members has been exceptional. And the observations and feedback from the Recreation and Park Commission has been of great value. They have all played a role in the development of a professional and well-designed open space park supporting multiple recreational activities for the young, the not-so-young and everyone in between. The input from the community has offered a vision and a path that is the foundation of the design.

Others who must be acknowledged in this important project are as follows:

  • Jim Sweeney is Jean Sweeney's husband and has been attached to this important project since the late 1990s. Jim has been an ambassador for Jean's objective of having a substantial open space park with areas for playing, walking, biking and simply relaxing.

  • Dorothy Freeman has been involved with the project from the very beginning and has attended many meetings throughout Alameda to make sure that the plans were in alignment with what Jean Sweeney wanted and what was most practical for Alameda.

  • But at the lead of the Sweeney park project is the director of Alameda's Recreation and Park Department, Amy Wooldridge. Through Wooldridge's leadership, tenacity and collaborative abilities, the Sweeney park project has moved steadily forward with positive results, while gathering support and volunteers along the way. She will celebrate her second-year anniversary as the Alameda Recreation and Park Department director on May 7, and she and her staff have many successful accomplishments to crow about. But, they won't. They never brag about what they do and the incredible amount of people they affect. They simply work hard and accomplish a great deal every day.

    ARPD manages 19 parks and a multitude of programs throughout Alameda. Here are a few: preschool recreation and play-based programs; summer preschool programs, including art camp, cooking and science; prekindergarten readiness class; child and parent introduction to preschool; swim lessons; lifeguard training; adult swim; Hidden Cove Day camp; Trails End camp; Trailblazers camp; golf camp; tennis camp; volleyball camp; World-of-Wonder program; Kids love soccer camp; Kids Jazz; gymnastics; kids with special needs program; Alameda Youth Committee; Teen Volunteer Program; baby sitter training; Aikido for Teens; Tween Adventure Program; Mastic Senior Center programs; language classes; cooking classes; yoga; Jazzercise; team sports; arts and crafts; drawing and painting; and events and trips. If you're interested in any of these programs or many others, visit the Recreation and Park section of the www.cityofalameda.gov website.

    Alameda parks offer important benefits to our city. They offer health and wellness, social and economic benefits, and organized, structured activities for all ages. In fact, a survey conducted last year by the nonprofit organization, California Park and Recreation Society, reported that virtually every California household -- 98 percent -- reported visiting a park during the past year. Forty-two percent of households visited a park at least several days a week. It appears that residents of most cities, including Alameda, value parks and recreation as an essential service to the community.

    The next time you observe an ARPD staff member in a blue and yellow polo shirt, take a moment to thank them for what they do. The next time you're online, consider donating to Alameda's Friends of the Parks Foundation at www.alamedaparks.org. Both actions will help all of us.

    Bill Delaney is a board member of The Friends of the Parks Foundation and the Alameda Recreation and Parks Commission. If you have any questions or comments, please send Delaney a message via email, at bdelaneyca@yahoo.com.