Publication Date: Friday, December 27, 2002
A hidden jewel
A hidden jewel
(December 27, 2002) Valley Trails sparkles
by Teresa Brown
Nestled just off Hopyard Road, between Valley Avenue and West Las Positas Boulevard, is the Valley Trails neighborhood. This neighborhood of 480 homes, in the words of one resident, is a hidden jewel.
In the routine bustling traffic on Hopyard, it could be easy to overlook North and South Valley Trails, the two entrances to the horseshoe-shaped neighborhood that stretches west to I-680.
North and South Valley Trails, the main thoroughfare, hooks through the neighborhood with court drives intersecting it on both sides. Most of the inner spoke courts open onto the neighborhood's pride and joy, its long, narrow tree-filled park.
The park is tucked away in the center of the U-shaped neighborhood. Almost imperceptible to passing traffic, the park is a grassy family-oriented greenbelt with trees and plants.
But the park has not always been an outstanding amenity. Most of the homes were built about 30 years ago, neighborhood homeowner association president Connie Cox said. By the 1990s, the park had deteriorated. "After 22 years, the grass was spotty and plants had died."
The neighborhood formed an association to speak as a common voice and appealed to the city for help, Cox said.
Fellow resident and association member Phil Sayre, who called Valley Trails a hidden jewel, said the park was renovated about six or seven years ago, creating a new path, installing lights and planting redwood trees and grass. He added that about $24,000 was spent on landscaping at the park entrance (on National Park street) and about $42,000 on playground equipment.
Joe Cunningham, a neighborhood resident since 1975, said, "the greenbelt didn't have good drainage. Our organization started working with the city and after about eight years, the city came up with about $500,000 to redo the greenbelt."
Flooding is another issue the neighborhood (among others) faces, Cox said. "Part of the problem is with growth and development; it's a valley-wide problem."
That problem, however, will be relieved with the building of the Bernal bridge, Cunningham said.
Another current issue for homeowners is the West Las Positas interchange. "We feel if it's built, there will be a ton of cut-through traffic," Sayre said.
While empathizing with Stoneridge Drive residents and their traffic problems, he explained that if the interchange is built, the commuting traffic would go by four different schools.
He added, "I'm hoping they build out (Highway) 84, rather than jump into the Las Positas Boulevard interchange."
For the neighborhood of modest homes ranging from 1,330 square feet to 1,835, the association has helped improve the area and marketability. "It's affordable," Sayre said of the neighborhood, calling it a good opportunity for new homeowners.
Cox agreed. "I love the location. It's convenient for kids with lots of kid-oriented things all within walking distance. We're across the street from the Sports Park; you could go play tennis or soccer."
Cox, who is also a realtor, estimated the homes originally sold for about $30,000 and now go for between $450,000 and $525,000.
The affordability and location keeps families moving in. "I watched three generations of kids grow up here," said Cunningham, who raised his three children there.
The association also keeps the residents in touch with each other. Not only does it hold a neighborhood potluck dinner, twice a year a neighborhood-wide garage sale is held, Cox said.
With the association paying for the advertising, homeowners participate on a volunteer basis and contribute a $15 donation. A major success, up to 20 houses have held sales on the association-designated garage sale day, Sayre said.
Another unique neighborhood feature are the street names, such as Mesa Verde, Cumberland Gap, Shenandoah, all national parks. Cox laughingly admitted the street names piqued her interest in seeing national parks.
Sayre divulged a couple more secrets. "There's no drive through traffic." And he added he could get to downtown Pleasanton and cross only one street. The answer is the Arroyo Mocho trail, he revealed.
"There's a lot of people who walk dogs and this time of year it starts to flood." But, he said, it is a proper trail, both easy and convenient.
The real secret to Valley Trails is it is a hidden jewel in Pleasanton, but its residents know its worth. As Cox said, when she moved in she thought she would raise her son there and then move on. But she's still there.