NAACP civil rights lawyer and former U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall, helped defend the fifty black sailors accused of mutiny after the devasting Port Chicago Naval Magazine blast that killed 320 men, mostly African American, and injured 390 more, on July 17, 1944. It was the largest Homefront disaster of World War II. The military trial took place on Treasure Island in nearby San Francisco Bay from September 14 to October 24, 1944. Although the fifty sailors were found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison, Thurgood Marshall’s high-profile appeal paved the way for the desegregation of the entire U.S. military. Marshall went on to argue the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which led to school desegregation nationwide, and became the first black U.S. Supreme Court Justice in 1967. The new park land formerly known as the Concord Naval Weapons Station, part of the larger Port Chicago military complex, has been referred to as “Concord Hills Regional Park” during the planning process until a permanent park name is chosen.
» Video: A Legacy of Civil Rights: Port Chicago / Concord Hills [YouTube]
The future Regional Park is in the Los Medanos Hills between Concord and Pittsburg. The 2,500-acre site, along with undeveloped land along this border, forms a greenbelt between the municipalities. The Regional Park site is divided into two sections north and south of Bailey Road.
The Concord Naval Weapons Station (CNWS) accommodated the changing needs of its inhabitants and settlers for centuries, including indigenous people, miners, ranchers, and the United State Navy, as well as local wildlife species from grizzly bears to California red-legged frogs. For the last six decades, the property has been used exclusively by the military, limiting public access as well as private development. The CNWS emerged as a prominent part of the East Bay landscape, offering striking grassland and hillside views while contributing to a substantial network of undeveloped open space. CNWS was approved for closure by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) in 2005. In 2012, the Concord City Council adopted the Concord Reuse Project Area Plan and designated the western slopes of the Los Medanos Hills and the adjacent area as the future regional park site. In July 2020, the East Bay Regional Park District adopted a Land Use Plan and an Environmental Impact Report to begin the process of building a future regional park on over 2,500 acres, in partnership with the National Park Service, to serve generations of current and future East Bay residents.
Rattlesnake Canyon in the South of Bailey Road Area. Photo by Stephen Joseph
Future Park site looking toward Mt. Diablo. Photo by Stephen Joseph
For additional information, please contact Devan Reiff, Principal Planner, at (510) 544-2325 or email@example.com
Cistern Building. Photo by Stephen Joseph