East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) announced today that Vargas Plateau Regional Park in Fremont will reopen to the public on Monday, May 15th, nearly a full year after an Alameda County judge issued a preliminary injunction ordering that the park be closed. The announcement of the park’s reopening comes after a settlement agreement was reached with the two park neighbors who sued the Park District to close the park.
“The public has waited a long time for access to this park, and we are appreciative for the patience many people have shown.” said EBRPD General Manager Robert Doyle. “While we didn’t agree with the court’s unprecedented injunction that closed Vargas Plateau Regional Park, we have worked very hard on a fair settlement that ultimately is in the best interest of the public and their access to our park.” Mr. Doyle also expressed appreciation for the assistance of the City of Fremont in resolving this matter.
The court’s ruling to close the park stemmed from a lawsuit filed in 2008 by two neighbors concerned about traffic and parking on Vargas and Morrison Canyon Roads, the two roads leading to the park. As part of the settlement of the first lawsuit, the Park District agreed to fund roadwork to widen portions of Vargas Road. Unfortunately, the same neighbors filed a new suit in May 2016 claiming that, among other things, the roadwork that was performed deviated from the terms of the settlement agreement. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and issued a preliminary injunction, closing the park. Trial in the case was scheduled for the end of May.
Details of the recent settlement include the construction of a three-foot wide paved shoulder on a portion of Vargas Road. The agreed upon roadwork was recently completed by the City of Fremont. The roadwork cost of approximately $90,000 will be paid for by EBRPD with assistance from the City of Fremont. As part of the settlement, the Park District also agreed to construct a vehicle turn-around on upper Morrison Canyon Road.
The Park District purchased the 1,249-acre property in the mid-1990s and opened the park on Mother’s Day weekend in May 2016. Renowned for its sweeping views and level loop trail, Vargas Plateau includes an important link of the Bay Area Ridge Trail and great opportunities for bird-watching, picnicking, hiking, and bicycling.
“This has been a long process for us to get to a settlement,” stated Dennis Waespi, Park District Director, Ward 5, whose jurisdiction includes Vargas Plateau. “Vargas is a spectacular destination to see the breadth of the East Bay from the hilltops, and I am so glad the public access is finally being restored. Thanks especially to the public for working with us to open this beautiful park.”
If you plan to visit, access Vargas Plateau Regional Park via I-680 to the Vargas Road exit and go north. Drive about 1.6 miles to Morrison Canyon Road and turn right. The staging area is ahead on the left about 0.4 miles. Car-pooling is strongly recommended as staging area parking is limited.
The East Bay Regional Park District is a system of beautiful public parks and trails in Alameda and Contra Costa counties east of San Francisco Bay, established in 1934. The system comprises 120,000 acres in 65 parks including over1,250 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding and nature learning.
Photo by Kevin Fox