"It's so wonderful to have a place like Shadow Cliffs, and it's really a shame not to have a regular interpretive center with a naturalist," said resident Nancy Harrington, a former teacher. "The signs are great but I think we need an interpretive center used by school children. We're missing a great opportunity."
Several others voiced this opinion, extolling the former quarry site as a wildlife habitat and an opportunity for people to learn firsthand about nature.
But several people said the main issue is the water slides, which, according to the plan, will eventually be closed.
"Pleasanton has lots of opportunities for young children but when they are 12, there is nothing," Inge Jechart said. "A lot of kids in this town do drugs. That is a prime example of why we need the waterslides and shouldn't get rid of them."
The proposed plans call for the following:
* Improve the overall trail system;
* Develop multi-use recreational trails to allow access into areas in western Shadow Cliffs;
* Phase out the existing Rapids Waterslide;
* Install picnic sites where appropriate on the former California Splash site; and
* Install shade shelters for family picnicking within the waterfront area.
Complete plans are available at the Pleasanton library and at www.ebparks.org.
"This is a vision for the future, a long-term plan for Shadow Cliffs," said Brian Wiese, Chief of Planning and Stewardship for the district. "The Park District doesn't have funds right now to do this plan. We make plans to do allocating for the future and to get grants. There is a 15-20-year horizon at least."
Jerri Long pointed out the desirability of having a large pavilion to reserve that is away from the water for people to use year round.
"We're tying to disperse things," Wiese said. "A pavilion would be a good place to gather and have interpretive walks."
Plans also include adding informative markers to the trails.
Wiese reported that the district engaged a hydrology consultant to explore restoring the Remillard Marsh and found that the water level is expected to go down as nearby quarry operations cease in the near future.
"The plan recommends working with Zone 7 and other agencies to identify another water source or the water level will drop 5 feet," Wiese said. "It's an important habitat. The district feels it should be maintained and protected. We want the flood plain to re-establish itself."
Arroyo del Valle runs through the site, next to the marsh but higher, so its water will feed the marsh, he added.
"I do support native plant introduction but not to pump in water and develop an artificial marsh," said Dolores Bengtson of Friends of Shadow Cliffs. "I do support trails and support installation of shade shelters. But I'd like to see the wording changed to 'all-weather shelters.'"
Becky Dennis suggested creating a vernal pool that thrives in the winter and may dry up in the summer. "I question the plans for the marsh," she said.
"I think what you're talking about is what we're proposing," Wiese responded. "It's called 'Remillard Marsh' so we call it a marsh."
Patricia Knutson, who worked for the waterslides developer and whose father was foreman at the de Silva quarry which is now part of the park, fought back tears as she spoke in favor of the waterslides, saying, "This is like a family thing for me."
She said the concessionaire wants to improve the waterslides but it is difficult since the lease is year to year since the 20-year operating agreement expired in 2006.
"Last year was a down year but we did make money off the concession even with the crummy weather," she added.
"The plan doesn't faze them out tomorrow or anytime soon," Wiese said. The slides are not used enough to be commercially feasible, he noted, and they are run down.
District Board President Beverly Lane said after the meeting that the waterslides could stay open.
"It depends on whether they're safe and still meeting community needs and the needs of the concessionaire," she said. "I know people are devoted to it."
Shadow Cliffs is one of the most popular parks among the 65 in the Park District, the district reported, especially during hot summer months. Plans also include limiting swimmers during the summer months when the beaches become dangerously crowded.
The Park District acquired the land, on Stanley Boulevard east of Valley Avenue, in 1968, after Kaiser Industries ceased its sand and gravel quarry operations, which began in the late 19th century. The recreation area was open to the public in 1971, with an 89-acre lake for swimming and fishing.
The four-flume waterslides were constructed in the early 1980s. When the 10.8-acre de Silva parcel was added to the park in 1989, plans were made to expand the California Splash waterslides. In 2008, the waterslides expansion project was abandoned, which led to the Park District reviewing the site and beginning to formulate a new land use plan.
The Park District's 45-day public comment period is open until March 21. Mail comments to EBRPD, Planning & Stewardship Department (attention: Shadow Cliffs), 2950 Peralta Oaks Court, Oakland, CA 94605; or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The public hearing to consider adopting the Final Land Use Plan Amendment is April 19 in Oakland.