The East Bay Regional Park District is gathering community input about how to further develop its park at Crab Cove on Crown Beach. The park district acquired an extra four acres there in 2016.
The park district has grouped possible uses into three design concepts: recreational destination, open space retreat, and educational bayfront. The recreational destination approach is geared toward active uses on the site. The open space retreat approach would include dense vegetation with a winding path for passive exploration. The educational bayfront concept allows the public to learn how sea level inundation of the park would affect habitat over time. The main purpose of the outreach is to find out which features, regardless of the concept, the community desires.
Improvements that would expand opportunities to use the park would begin soonest under the recreational destination concept. It calls for widening the beach and raising the Bay Trail on a levy along the shoreline to protect the park from sea level rise.
A round-about parking lot in the recreational destination concept looks like the best parking expansion option, since it would allow easy access to the Glory of the Seas building. This two-story building, currently used for park maintenance, could be repurposed as a venue for community meetings and events.
The other two concepts would allow the existing giant meadow where Concerts at the Cove are held to become a tidal marsh. Under those designs, the recreational space would be shifted to the newly acquired land, with virtually no net increase (or even less) in recreational space. One of the sea level rise inundation designs has the Bay Trail being rerouted inland, which means the trail would be moved to Central Avenue.
Under all the design scenarios, multiple meadows would be created on the newly acquired land, and the maintenance yard will be separated from everything else and moved away from the shoreline where it is currently located. The end of McKay Avenue, which is the street leading to Crab Cove, would be redesigned to provide additional parking to accommodate demand at this regional destination, including buses for school children.
Expanded beach, raised Bay Trail on a levy, multiple gathering/picnic recreation sites, meandering trails, new trees and native vegetation, and a shoreline community meeting and events center in the historic Glory of the Seas building are all great design features.
I urge all those who currently enjoy Crab Cove, or who worked to expand the park, to add their voices to the planning process. Input from the online survey and pop-up events at the Crab Cove Visitors Center will be used to refine the three design concepts into a single preferred concept that will be incorporated in the master plan in the fall.
Whatever park features end up in the final master plan, expanding the recreational focus we all currently enjoy there should be the top priority. While marshlands and mudflats can and should be restored elsewhere on the island, Crab Cove at Crown Beach is more aptly suited for family fun, community concerts, and easy access to the bay and visitors center.
Visit the McKay Master Plan webpage for complete information about the plan choices and the community survey.
Originally published in Alameda Sun