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December Walnut Creek Mayor's Message

Dec 02, 2015 10:45PM ● By Bob Simmons

My year as mayor has ended, so I am using my last article to provide some observations on the year.

The year started with the dedication of Centennial Grove in Heather Farm Park.  This is a grove of 100 trees from six continents (there are no trees on Antarctica).  It ended with a celebration of the completion of the Geary Road project.  The results of this road are that vehicles flow more smoothly, it is safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, and new drainage features improve water quality and water flow during storm events. All of the new lighting is LED lighting. 

What are some other things the city did this year? In terms of traffic, the Buena Vista project was completed, with significant enhancements for pedestrians and bicyclists and improved safety of the San Carlos/Ygnacio Valley Road intersection.

The city acquired five acres of open space from the East Bay Municipal Utility District, with financial assistance from the Walnut Creek Open Space Foundation. In addition, the old cell tower on the top of Lime Ridge was removed, and now, for the first time, people can hike up to the top of Lime Ridge, the highest spot in the city.

Several years of work by staff resulted in the approval of solar carport projects at Heather Farm Park and Boundary Oak Golf Course.  Over the 20-year life of the project, the estimated net savings to the city is nearly $4 million, with no upfront cost. The electricity generated by the project could fully power about 140 homes.  In addition, the carports will provide significant shade for vehicles parked underneath.  It is estimated the carports will reduce peak summer temperatures by 20 degrees.

The city commenced the reconstruction of Larkey Pool, which will serve us well over the next 30 years. It also decided to proceed with the initial scope and design for the aquatics facility at Heather Farm Park.  The Clubhouse at Boundary Oak was renovated, with more upgrades due in 2016.

The city approved a 90-day Winter Night Shelter program at the armory near Civic Park. Through a lengthy public process that included nearby residents, the Trinity Center, and the city, many of the neighborhood concerns were addressed, with the result that there was broad community support for the project. The city took several actions to provide more affordable housing. This included the approval of a new affordable housing on Riviera near the Walnut Creek BART station.

The city reduced its water usage in response to the drought. Of the 80 acres of turf, the city stopped watering on 17 of those acres, and is converting at least five of those acres to drought-tolerant vegetation.  

Finally, the city acted on several matters that we will see in 2016, including the West Downtown Specific Plan, the Pedestrian Master Plan, Community Choice Energy, and Urban Agriculture.

2015 was a good year, and I anticipate that 2016 will be as interesting and productive.