Mira Vista Field
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Preserving the Field as Open Space

Report from the February 23, 2016 meeting of the Working Group

Great news, everyone...

  1. The County and School District are nearing completion of a Joint Use Agreement for Mira Vista Field, which will allow continuation of its current use for 25 years!!
  2. The County is applying to East Bay Regional Park District to use $100,000 of the County's share of Measure WW money for improvements at the field!!
Many thanks to Supervisor Gioia for moving this forward for us! And to District staff that have been working with the County!!

We had a very good meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to inform us of this progress and to discuss how we move forward and what the improvements should be. There was concurrence that the walking paths are the first priority, and that other improvements could be installed if we get more grant monies in the future, some could be community-built using excess supplies from the School District or other donations, some we could fundraise for. Also that the intent is to preserve the natural aesthetic of the field and the native plants -- to keep it as a "wild jewel" in the middle of our neighborhood, and a place where not only we can go to jog or walk and bring our dogs but also where kids can go to be in nature and learn about ecosystems.

The District has already completed a survey of the property, and will be providing that to the County for its use in developing plans and a cost estimate for the improvements, which we think at this point may be limited to the main path and entry gates due to the amount of money available (of the $100k, $20k can go to design and other preconstruction costs, leaving $80k for actual construction). There will be a goal to make the path ADA-accessible too. Adele will be working with County staff on the plans, and will be sure to include public meetings along the way to get everyone's input.

The question was raised as to whether we could establish the field as a "dogs allowed" area, so that we can call Animal Control (without fear of shutting down dog walking) if we need help managing a dog problem. James Lyons of Supervisor Gioia's staff will be looking into that for us.

We will keep you posted as the project moves along!!

Report from the October 24, 2015 general meeting at the field

Report by James Lyons, of Supervisor John Gioia's office on status of field planning meetings with School District: James said that Supervisor Gioia has a meeting on Monday at which a lot of things will be determined; he will provide us with an update following the meeting. The issue that has come up regarding use of Measure WW funding for the field is that the School District will only enter into a 5 year lease and Measure WW requires land tenure for at least 30 years. The District has recently indicated that there may be a workaround; more to come on that. If the Measure WW funding does not work out then Supervisor Gioia is committed to trying to find other funding for us.

Report from the April 28, 2015 meeting of the Working Group

We had a second meeting of the Mira Vista Field Working Group this week at Supervisor Gioia's office. Present were: Supervisor Gioia and staff member James Lyons, Lisa LeBlanc, Assistant Superintendent for WCCUSD and from our group... Guillermo, Michael, Adele, Kandace, Priscilla, and Randolph.

The focus of the meeting was to discuss the possibility of some sort of agreement with the School District that would allow for the community’s ongoing use of the field and for improvements (pathways, fencing and gates, interpretive elements) to be installed using Measure WW money. Lisa suggested a Joint Use Agreement with a one year term. John said that we would want a longer term, and James stated that in fact Measure WW requires a term of at least 20(?) years for those funds to be used for improvements. John and James to confirm term required by Measure WW. Parties to the agreement could be WCCUSD and County, and possibly a nonprofit that would be responsible for operation and maintenance. Lisa to check on options for a joint use agreement…. term and parties. Acquisition was deemed unlikely because the property would first have to be declared surplus, and that is a lengthy process. For surplus properties, sale priorities are: 1) to a charter school, 2) to a public agency, and 3) to a private party (like a developer). Dogs off leash in the field will likely be an issue due to liability exposure of WCCUSD as the property owner. There was discussion of how to restrict access between schoolchildren and dogs with fencing, or having a limited off leash area. We noted that people are used to letting their dogs off leash for the entire field area, and a smaller off leash area could be tough to get support for. Also that we may have to give up a bit in order to make the project work. Lisa to check with WCCUSD legal counsel on what options might be to accommodate off leash dogs at the field. (Note that she said she is also a dog owner who appreciates off leash spaces.) We mentioned maintenance and explained the neighborhood’s day-to-day maintenance efforts and our coordination with WCCUSD maintenance staff for the major mowing. Also noted the environmental values of the field…. native plants, open space, wildlife. And it’s value as an outdoor classroom.

The next meeting is tentatively planned for Tuesday, June 2nd at 6 pm.

Report from the Feb 10, 2015 meeting of the Working Group

The Working Group consists of people who signed up or requested to be in the group that will work out many of the details associated with acquisition and preservation of the field. In attendance on Tuesday were: Priscilla, Kandace, Michael, Elly, Guillermo, Sylvia, Lou, Randall, and Adele. There are others who signed up but were not able to make this first meeting; if you are one of them please Contact us so that we can continue to send you invitations to future meetings. Note that participation in the Working Group is a serious commitment, and you will have to make most of the meetings in order for work to proceed smoothly. When we get to big decisions or issues, we will arrange a meeting with the larger MV Field group.

The meeting was held at Supervisor John Gioia's office, and was facilitated by District Coordinator James Lyons. There was a recap of the history of the field and the October meeting which many of you attended. Goals were identified as: preserving open space, protecting and propagating native plants, achieving sustainability for the future, an official off-leash designation, and maintaining a path to the school. The School District Superintendent has indicated willingness to consider a long term lease of the site. Measure WW funding available for the field (around $400,000) requires a minimum 25 year lease. We would like as long a lease as we can get! Improvements desired include: formal paths with good drainage (decomposed granite, boardwalks in places, for example), fencing, signage, an ADA-accessible main path, trees. Long term maintenance will have to be figured out; could include School District continuing to do major items if they retain ownership and we can work it out with them in the lease agreement. Would be helpful to identify funding for maintenance. Off leash dogs will also have to be addressed… How do we limit liability of the property owner and the lessee and avoid conflicts? (Your ideas on this issue are welcome!) As noted above, maintaining off leash designation is a goal of the project. Governance will have to be addressed… Who would the lessee be? The County does not own or operate any parks; could it be some kind of Community Association?

The next meeting will be sometime in March, and the Supervisor and staff from the School District Superintendent's office will be there. It will be another evening meeting; possible dates are March 10, 12, 18, or 19.

Update on what has happened since our October 2014 meeting

Supervisor Gioia has spoken with the School District Superintendent, and there is interest on the District's end in participating with us and keeping the field as a park for the community and school, at least for the foreseeable future. It sounded like a long term lease is preferable to the District. We will convene a meeting of the MV Field Working Group some time in January to keep moving the project forward.

Summary of meeting with Supervisor Gioia on October 18, 2014

The community's desire to preserve the field property as open space / parkland was discussed. Supervisor Gioia will be meeting with School Superintendent Bruce Harter in the near future to explore community partnerships to preserve the field as publicly accessible open space. There will be a lot of issues to be figured out along the way… including what form the acquisition would be (County purchase / School District lease / Conservation easement / Nonprofit ownership / …), what uses will be allowed on the property, and how the property would be maintained (Neighborhood nonprofit / special assessment / agreement with school district / …). The desire is for the project to be community-driven. A Working Group will be formed to work on these issues with the Supervisor's office. If you want to be on the Working Group, please Contact us with your name, address, e-mail and phone number, using Subject Line "Working Group".

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