The East Bay Regional Park District Board of Directors voted unanimously Tuesday to acquire two parcels, of 50 and 80 acres, to expand parks in Antioch and Byron, respectively.
The first parcel is a 50-acre hillside that represents the last remaining undeveloped ridgeline between Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve and Contra Loma Regional Park, both in Antioch. The parcel was once slated for 50 luxury homes, but the developer, Suncrest Homes, and its successor property owner, Antioch Holdings LLC, agreed to donate the property, valued at $3.5 million.
In a unique arrangement, the developer will donate the property to the Regional Parks Foundation, which in turn will convey it to the Park District to become part of Black Diamond Mines.
“This is a great example of how we can work with a property owner to achieve our goals of protecting open space and make a lasting difference to the community,” said Juliana Schirmer, Foundation development director. “As a 501(c)(3), we’re in a wonderful position to facilitate public-private partnerships such as this. The donor receives a tax benefit, and the community gets an asset that will be enjoyed and protected forever.”
The second acquisition is 80 acres near Byron Vernon Pools Regional Preserve that the Park District is acquiring in partnership with the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy. The Conservancy, through the California Wildlife Conservation Board, is anticipated to contribute 95 percent of the $520,000 purchase price, and the remainder of the funds will come from NextEra. The price was based on the property’s appraised fair-market value.
Both properties include rolling, grassy hills and an array of native trees and shrubs, and provide important habitat for native species. They both help the Park District achieve its long-term goal of creating wildlife corridors to protect native species, and preserving the East Bay’s most beautiful open spaces.
These acquisitions follow the Park District’s addition of nearly 400 acres in East Contra Costa County last month. Those purchases include 191 acres to expand Black Diamond Mines, and 199 acres along Vasco Road to become part of Vasco Hills Regional Preserve as well as Byron Vernal Pools.
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 over 1,250 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding and nature learning.