Leigh Creekside Park is an unassuming, spartan pork chop of green lawn, oak and cedar bounded by Moraga Boulevard and Fourth Street. A lot of locals don’t even know its there, which is how most people who do would like to keep it – with a few small changes, that is.
Months ago it was suggested that the quiet city park be upgraded, with parents requesting play structures for children, new access trails for those with disabilities, and maybe a replacement for the single burbling water fountain bikers and hikers pounce on after a long walk or ride along the bordering trail.
The City Council took up the matter as the city owns the .6 acre neighborhood oasis, and an architect donated his time to come up with a suitable design scheme – a walk through local history centered around existing park features like its venerable Heritage Oak and Native American grinding stones.
But this being Lamorinda and land use – even of obscure neighborhood parks – of heightened importance to those who live here, the issue of what is to become of Leigh Creekside suddenly became, well, an issue.
“My neighbors, who surround this park on all sides, are done with the politics and wish for this park discussion to end,” neighbor Liz Mac wrote in a letter to the city. “We are in Lafayette’s trails neighborhood for the natural setting. Please leave it as such.”
Not everyone shares her view.
“I have seen the preliminary design and model views and believe it to be well-suited to the site,” countered neighbor Kathy von Haunalter. “The play elements are natural-looking, low-maintenance, tied to Lafayette’s history and are placed so as not to block interior views. Leigh Creekside Park is currently underutilized. The goal of all parks is to entice people outdoors. Amending the Leigh Creekside Park Master Plan will bring nature, fun, and neighbors together to create a wonderful and memorable park experience.”
City staff appear to be leaning toward a “passive” and “active” designation for the park with an estimated $488,000-worth of improvements ready to accommodate local children while ensuring the area’s natural charm is protected.
Whether this can be done remains to be seen. The skirmish over the future look and feel of Leigh Creekside moves into the City Council meeting room Jan. 23.