John Muir Land Trust Helps City of Lafayette Acquire 20 Acres of Open Space
John Muir Land Trust nearing a goal for Almond Ranch, thanks to readersDecember 17, 2018
City adds 20 acres for neighborhood hillside trails, open spaceFebruary 20, 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 7, 2019
Contact: Linus Eukel, Executive Director
(925) 228-1130 direct (925) 788-7525 mobile
“Batwing” Property Will Be Newest Public Park
MARTINEZ, CA — John Muir Land Trust (JMLT) has assisted the City of Lafayette in the acquisition of 20 acres of delightful open space that will be open to the public and preserved in perpetuity.
The “Batwing” property, so named because its shape resembles a flying bat, is located at 3333 Hamlin Road, off St Mary’s Road, about halfway between Stanley Middle School and Buckeye Fields. Surrounded by established neighborhoods, zoned for a maximum of 40 housing units, and once offered for sale for residential development, the hilly property will instead be a permanent nature park with walking trails open to everyone.
Lafayette City Council voted unanimously on January 28, 2019 to spend $1.8 million to acquire the 20-acre property and thus achieve nearly half its goal of adding 44 acres of new parkland as specified in the Lafayette General Plan. “This decision represented one of the most historic actions the City Council has taken in decades,” said Mayor Cameron Burks. “For generations, Lafayette residents will be able to enjoy this pristine area, an area that represents the special character of Lafayette.”
Funds will come from parkland acquisition fees that are collected by the city when new development occurs. The city is also applying for an East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) Measure WW grant, a $500 million bond extension approved in November 2008. The measure addresses demand to preserve open space by allocating to cities and special park districts the funds they need for high priority community park projects. “We’re delivering walkable parks for everybody,” said Lafayette Parks, Trails and Recreation Director Jonathan Katayanagi. “Neighbors can finish their dinner, grab their kids and their dogs, and go out to this open space.”
The city’s plan had identified this property as a priority dating back to the 1980s. Linus Eukel, Executive Director of John Muir Land Trust, said, “The property owner is thrilled that the land will be preserved as open space forever. This is a gift for generations to come.”
The Batwing acquisition illustrates the vital role that land trusts play in local conservation. JMLT negotiated a purchase agreement with the landowner. With the property under contract, JMLT then conducted necessary due diligence by commissioning geotechnical reports, a phase 1 environmental assessment, an appraisal, and title research. JMLT identified funding sources including the Measure WW grant. JMLT will acquire the property and convey it the City of Lafayette, then work collaboratively with the city on opening Batwing for public access. Willing landowners often prefer working with nonprofit land trusts because this protects their privacy while providing impartial expertise that might be too expensive or otherwise unavailable.
The $1.8 million in funding covers the cost of the land; the acquisition-related expenses; one-time investments in features such as fencing, trails, stairs and signage; and initial costs for maintenance.
Eukel described how this acquisition is part of a comprehensive strategy for the entire region. “A healthy park system offers diverse opportunities for outdoor recreation. In Lamorinda, John Muir Land Trust has protected 604-acre Carr Ranch, a pristine addition to a large wilderness refuge. We’re raising funds to protect Painted Rock, the potential anchor of a centrally located 505-acre community park that would be enjoyed by hundreds of visitors daily. The 20-acre Batwing property is a wonderful example of a neighborhood park that gives people everyday access to the outdoors just steps from their homes. JMLT is delighted to be partnering with the City of Lafayette on another place where people can enjoy the natural beauty of the East Bay. We hope to do many more.”
About John Muir Land Trust
John Muir Land Trust (JMLT) protects and cares for open space, ranches, farms, parkland and shoreline in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. In a generation, John Muir Land Trust has become one of the leading forces for conservation in northern California. With 3,200 acres protected, many beautiful places in the East Bay are permanently preserved for recreation, wildlife habitat and spectacular scenic views. JMLT believes that the vitality of our open spaces is essential to the health of our earth, air, water, native plants and animals — and all of us.