New Ball Fields?
Dec 07, 2015 08:46PM ● Published by Jennifer Neys
Using Oak Park Elementary
School Site for Ball Fields
By Jaki Jones
The former Oak Park Elementary site, currently being used by a construction contractor as a staging area for unsightly dirt piles, could become ball fields for baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse, flag football, and tournaments in the near future. The Recreation and Park District has expressed a strong interest in purchasing the 10-acre site at 1700 Oak Park Blvd. from the county. “For years we have looked at that property as a possibility for additional ball fields. It’s so close to Pleasant Oaks Park; it’s one of the last large pieces of land still available in Pleasant Hill, so it’s a perfect match,” said Sandra Bonato, board chairwoman of the Pleasant Hill Recreation and Park District.
The county’s disposition process for the three county-owned parcels includes informing other public agencies of the plan to sell the properties for possible use by the public before putting them on the market. The Recreation and Park District expressed interest in purchasing this site to the county back in September, and both parties are in the middle of a 90-day negotiating period that will end on December 17, 2015.
The county will sell the property at its fair market value and, depending on the price, the Rec and Park can draw from several funding sources to purchase the property. “The district is very credit worthy, so there is always the possibility of one or more loans; we can look at grants and we can look at our community partners (other groups that are interested in ball fields), and we can look at other property the district owns to see if some of that might provide us with some additional funding. We really have a number of different avenues of potential funding,” said Bonato.
The Rec and Park has retained an appraiser, and once the board has reviewed the appraisals that have come in, they will bring that information to the county and begin a negotiator purchase price. “We will have to see what our appraiser says and see if it’s close to what the county’s appraiser values the land at, and we will go from there,” added Bonato.
The outcome could thwart the plans of the City of Pleasant Hill in using that site to build a new library. However, other library site options include: The existing Pleasant Hill library land on Oak Park Boulevard, Pleasant Hill Middle School's track and field, and Contra Costa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District land on Beatrice Road.
In an effort to keep the desirable site away from housing developers, a Change.org petition has been started by resident Dylia Klatt directed toward District IV Supervisor Karen Mitchoff. The petition states, “One of the last remaining open space parcels in Pleasant Hill is up for sale by the county. This site has views of Mt. Diablo and a natural creek with otters, birds, and other wildlife. We support selling this large site to Pleasant Hill Parks and Recreation for open space community uses, such as playing fields, library, picnic areas, trails, and critical flood detention basins to protect residents from future flooding.”
One passionate supporter commented, “Please help us help you to save one of the last large parcels in PH. Put your heart in this project. We want charm -- a bocce ball, ice/ roller skating, vintage bookstore feel. Coffee by the creek! Make the creek a feature. Ball fields, flood basins are perfect! Development will be a cruel move! No more big box development crammed on zero lot lines. Our schools are impacted! Our roads and traffic are horrific! Let's work together and preserve this land for future generations! This is prime land with a future for our kids; keep it looking like the past!”