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Lafayette Residents Ponder Proposed Changes To A Small Local Park – What Could Go Wrong?

Leigh Creekside Park. Photo: City of Lafayette

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.


  1. I’m sorry but you could build a house on the lot for that amount of money. I would suggest looking for a happy medium.

  2. I had the same initial reaction: that seems pricey. But if the new stuff will last 20 years and get used by hundreds of people a year, maybe it is reasonable. And having a nice inviting neighborhood park is a big plus in terms of home values when the tech millionaires living in lofts in SoMa start to breed and look for nesting areas…..

  3. I think the City needs to decide if it will honor the original intention of those civic minded individuals who worked with the City to establish this park to be a quiet, passive, and natural setting in the heart of our City. The contemporary documentation leaves little doubt as to that intention. But now some would spoil it’s natural quiet character by developing it into yet another high intensity play area.

    It will be a very poor outcome to ‘split the baby’ and try to shoehorn an ‘active’ park into it. Imagine just taking ‘only’ half of Yosemite Valley to establish a more inclusive, ADA compliant roller coaster amusement park, and you will get the idea. I’m sure the kids would love that too.

    Leave it alone.

    People will remember what is done to this legacy of those civic minded individuals. It is my hope we are able to celebrate that the City honored their engagement and work to create the passive park in the first place. The alternative would be an insult to those who created it and to the many of us who continue to value its special character.

  4. How about honoring the original intention of the donors – including the Leigh family, and leave the park “natural” as promised.

    When developers came knocking on the Leigh’s door wanting to buy their land, I don’t think this is what they had in mind,

    It’s a nice, quiet park. Leave it alone. If you want play structures for your children, there’s always your own spacious backyard in Lamorinda.

  5. Underutilized? That is a matter of perspective. I remember it as a quiet place with birds and squirrels and shade. Not every park needs to feature a kids playground. Quiet places are a nice asset, even nicer when not overly busy. I would leave it alone. Maybe do something to ameliorate the mud in wet weather…e.g. stepping stones or gravel path to enable more winter use.

    (not a Lafayette resident)

  6. @Chris Nicholson ugh! Please don’t remind me of those that are driving all that has and is happening in the bay area as of late. I’m now leaning toward leave it alone.

    By the way are you aware that Crogran’s has been “forced” to close (effective 1/23/17) by the City of Walnut Creek? Your comments were noticeably absent from that story.

  7. There aren’t too many places where you can walk your Caucasian Ovcharka aka Russian Bear dog aka Russian prison dog without fear of encountering innocent, mindless children. Please preserve this quiet space.

  8. I don’t live anywhere near this little park and for that reason my comment has no real weight, but I just think it would be nice to have something finish up as it was initially designated. Very often these days we see things created for good reason and then altered later in their lives. It would be nice to see something stay as it was initially intended.

  9. Please , please, please: leave it alone! Leave it natural, as intended!
    Maybe I say the following because I’m now of “AARP age”, but definitely don’t build a playground for children. Seems the whole world has been turned into entertainment for children. Let children learn to appreciate quiet, natural beauty, and the animals therein. Time to reflect, not constant amusement & entertainment .( It will be good for their mental health and adjustment in the long run) Please leave this park as is!

  10. The plans for the park are very modest and don’t change it substantially. I live in the neighborhood and the park is definitely underutilized. It’s also disingenuous to claim the city would not be respecting the original purpose. There was no restriction for it to remain solely passive when the park was originally created. I realize there are passionate views about any change to the park, but it seems like there’s an absolutist approach by some who have declared any change whatsoever is unacceptable.

  11. Tim, it’s not disingenuous. Leigh Creekside Park was founded in 1999 with funds provided by the Leigh family, neighborhood donations and a CA state grant. City and state leaders appealed for funds “to preserve the land in its natural state.” Sen. Richard Rainey requested the grant money in a letter to the CA state senate, stating, “If Lafayette acquires the land it will be left in its natural state for the park.”

    It would be disrespecting the original purpose.

    • Howdy, David… sorry, this one slipped past us. The matter has been put over for further study/discussion. For another month or so…

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