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By Shelly Lewis                  Follow East Palo Alto Today on
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Tuesday, April 2, 2013         
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 Photo of trees at Cooley Landing Park Photo of view of Dumbarton Bridge from Cooley Landing Park
           Photos courtesy of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District
These two photos were taken at Cooley Landing Park in East Palo Alto.


Would you like to serve on a regional planning committee to determine the future of open space areas similar to Cooley Landing Park? Well now you can. The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District is inviting local residents to participate in imagining the future of their open space preserves.

The District is embarking on a new process to develop a District-wide vision for regional open space. The vision planning process, entitled Imagine the Future of Open Space, integrates comprehensive public participation with robust scientific analysis. The outcomes of the process will guide the District’s work for the next 15 years and beyond.

“We’re celebrating our 40th anniversary, so it is especially fitting that we are beginning a vision plan right now,” says General Manager Steve Abbors. “We were started by a group of concerned citizens who wanted to preserve the regional greenbelt, and we’re proud of what we have accomplished over the past four decades.”
Established in 1972 through a grassroots movement to preserve local open space from development, the District has preserved over 62,000 acres with 26 preserves in Santa Clara, San Mateo, and a small part of Santa Cruz counties. Part of one of the District’s preserves, Ravenswood Open Space Preserve, falls within the boundaries of East Palo Alto.

The District is currently working with the City of East Palo Alto and its residents on two key projects involving Ravenswood Open Space Preserve. The first phase of Cooley Landing Park, developed by the City of East Palo Alto in partnership with the District, turned nine acres of a former garbage dump into a park and was completed last year. The City of East Palo Alto and the District own portions of the land where the park is built. The park is located within the southern area of Ravenswood Open Space Preserve.

The Cooley Landing Park not only created a new public park, but offers an important addition to the San Francisco Bay Trail between the existing Ravenswood Open Space Preserve and the Palo Alto Baylands. The District is working on completing a critical half-mile missing link of the San Francisco Bay Trail situated between Ravenswood Open Space Preserve and University Avenue. This section of the trail, part of the Ravenswood Bay Trail, is located within the communities of Menlo Park and East Palo Alto. When the San Francisco Bay Trail is done it will be 500 miles and provide a world-class network of bicycling and hiking trails along the shoreline encircling the San Francisco and San Pablo Bays.

Input from the public on these projects and others like them is critical to the success of Imagine the Future of Open Space. In addition to the scientific component of evaluating the District’s preserves and adjoining open space, comprehensive community engagement is involved in the visioning process. Activities to engage the public include a telephone survey, in-person community interviews, meetings, and most immediately, an online town hall website at imagine.openspace.org.

Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD) is also looking for community residents to serve on its community advisory committee. The committee is comprised of community leaders representing various interest groups including environmental, preserve users, neighbors, businesses, agriculture, trail advocates, and other partners. Meetings of the committee, which are planned for about once a month, will be open to the public. The committee will make suggestions and recommendations regarding the visioning process to District staff and board of directors.

Abbors explains that it is a pivotal time for the District as it shifts from a primary emphasis on land preservation to one that equally emphasizes preservation, restoration, maintenance, public access, and nature education programs. “It is so appropriate that – just as when we were started -- our future will be guided by the people who live and work here,” states Abbors.

More information about the Imagine the Future of Open Space visioning process can be found at www.openspace.org/imagine or by sending an e-mail at imagine@openspace.org. The online interactive website can be accessed directly at imagine.openspace.org.


Shelly Lewis is the media communications supervisor for the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.