East Palo Alto's Cooley Landing Park Project has received a $5 million grant from the State of California Department of Parks and Recreation, the city announced Monday, April 9.
The grant, which was awarded on March 26, will help restore an 80-year-old toxic dump to create a new nine-acre bayfront nature park. Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Program awards grants for the creation of new parks and recreation facilities in critically underserved communities throughout California.
East Palo Alto and the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District broke ground to clean up the former dumpsite in December 2011. The environmental-cleanup project to render the soil safe is nearing completion, the city said in a statement.
Cooley Landing Park will increase East Palo Alto's existing 16 acres of parkland by 72 percent, and will provide outdoor recreation opportunities to promote healthy lifestyles and environmental education opportunities, Interim City Manager Ronald Davis' office said.
"East Palo Alto residents of all ages share a common vision for Cooley Landing to be their first direct access to experience the natural wonders of the San Francisco Bay, to celebrate the city's unique multicultural heritage, and to symbolize the community's transformation into a vibrant destination," Davis' office noted.
Future project phases include vehicle-access improvements, construction of an outdoor classroom, renovation of a former boathouse into a nature-and-education facility, and trail improvements.
East Palo Alto Mayor Laura Martinez said, "Being awarded the $5 million in grant money will allow the Cooley Landing Park to be completed and become a reality for residents. I am especially looking forward to the new nature education building. Families and school children will benefit tremendously from this beautiful space right on the bay. This funding is crucial, and I am so thrilled that we were selected."
The Statewide Park Program will create 103 new parks, and 23 existing parks will be expanded or substantially improved. Grant recipients were announced in November 2010 and March 2012 for first- and second-round grants, respectively. The average Round 2 grant amount is approximately $2.9 million, and more than 400 applications were received.