On Tuesday, July 7, 2020, the East Bay Regional Park District Board of Directors unanimously approved the final land use plan for public access improvements and open space preservation at the Park District’s new 2,540-plus-acre Concord Hills Regional Park (working name). The final land use plan includes a joint visitor center with the National Park Service highlighting the history of the Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial and the Diablo Valley, staging areas, and miles of recreational trails for hiking, biking, and nature viewing.
“This is the true culmination of a decades-long community effort,” said Beverly Lane, who has represented Concord on the East Bay Regional Park District Board since 1994. “I’m proud to be part of the Park District and its effort to produce a truly fabulous plan for a new Regional Park in the Diablo Valley.”
“This important land use plan will provide public access, preserve natural habitat, and honor the unique natural and human history of the land,” added Lane.
In July 2019, after a 20+ year community effort, the Park District received possession of 2,216 acres of U.S. Navy property at the Concord Naval Weapons Station. An additional 327 acres will transfer to the District at a later time.
The final land use plan utilizes existing developed areas and buildings to the greatest extent possible. The final approved plan and the associated environmental analysis permanently preserve 95% of the land as open space and protected habitat.
“Turning the former military base into a world-class park will take very many years and millions of dollars to restore and open,” said East Bay Regional Park District General Manager Robert Doyle. “However, thanks to the Park District and community’s efforts, 2,500 plus acres of scenic Diablo Valley landscape is permanently protected.”
“The opportunity to partner with the National Park Service to tell the unique and important natural and historic story of the land in a future joint visitor is exciting and rare. We thank National Park Service and all of our partners for their help in making this world-class park a reality,” added Doyle.
On July 17, 1944, over 5,000 tons of munitions at Port Chicago exploded, killing 320 mostly enlisted African American sailors. The tragic explosion accounted for a quarter of all African American deaths in World War II and highlighted racial inequality within the Navy. On July 26, 1948, President Truman signed Executive Order 9981, ordering the desegregation of all military forces. The National Park Service operates the Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial at the site of the explosion, recognizing those that perished.
Creating a new Regional Park in the Diablo Valley has been a partnership between the Park District, U.S. Navy, National Park Service, City of Concord, and Save Mount Diablo. Public access is expected to come first to the southern portions of the park consisting of 900 acres south of Bailey Road.
The Board will consider the official naming of the new Regional Park at a later time after additional community outreach and engagement.