Park district reaches landmark 100,000 acres with new purchase near Sunol

Board members approve acquisition of 1,156-acre Tyler Ranch property next to Pleasanton Ridge

The East Bay Regional Park District board formally approved the purchase of a new property Tuesday next to the Pleasanton Ridge, which now brings the amount of land acquired by the district to over 100,000 acres.

The milestone comes as the district celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, forming in 1934.

The new acquisition is 1,156 acres and known as Tyler Ranch, located next to the Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park and Sunol. The property extends for nearly 3.5 miles along Sunol Ridge, rising nearly 2,000 feet from Niles Canyon below. It consists of steep, heavily vegetated slopes, with open grasslands and rock outcrops on the ridge tops. "Tyler Ranch is a great addition to the district," said park district board member Ayn Wieskamp, whose ward includes Pleasanton and Sunol. "Like our original parks of Tilden, Sibley, and Redwood, it preserves critical wildlife habitat, retains the aesthetic quality of the region, and provides future recreational opportunities."

The property had been owned since the 1940s by the Tyler family. In 1997, the Tyler family sold 1,156 acres of their ranch to the Priem Family Foundation for $5.2 million and the remaining 320 acres to the park district for $1.4 million, according to district spokeswoman Shelly Lewis. The total sale price, $6.6 million, was well below the ranch's appraised fair market value, she said.

The purchase was made through support from the foundation, which is a private, tax-exempt organization created in part for the purpose of preserving open space in the greater East Bay. It agreed to hold the land for up to three years in order to allow the park district time to obtain funds, Lewis said. The foundation will sell the parcel to the park district for $3.4 million, saving the district $1.8 million.

The park district has secured funding from various sources. A total of $1 million came through a grant from the Alameda County Altamont Landfill Open Space Fund; $300,000 came through a grant from the California Department of Parks and Recreation Habitat Conservation Fund; and $10,000 from the Frederick E. and Anne R. Barstow Fund, conveyed through the East Bay Community Foundation. The balance of the funding will come from Measure WW, the open space bond issue approved by voters in 2008, and from interest accrued from Measure AA, the original open space bonds approved back in 1988, Lewis said.

With the acquisition of Tyler Ranch, the park district will comprise 65 public parklands totaling 100,331 acres throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

The new parcel will be placed in land bank status pending cleanup, park planning, trail and signage work, and other measures before it is ready to open to the public, Lewis said.

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