Oakley’s 55-acre Community Park

On Tuesday, January 9, the Oakley City Council will discuss the conceptual plan for the 55-acre Community Park to be located at the north end of Sellars Ave on the Dutch Slough proprieties as part of it’s agendized council meeting. Part of the discussion will involve which buildings on the properties will be demolished as part of the initial clean-up of the site.

Site history

For over a hundred years, the properties have been diked and used for grazing and dairy operations. The former landowner families had been farming in eastern Contra Costa County for generations. The Emerson family owned its land since the mid-nineteenth century and operated a dairy on the site since the early twentieth century. The Emerson Dairy was the last dairy operating in Contra Costa County. The Burroughs family purchased the lands between Emerson Slough and Jersey Island Road in 1906 and managed them as a dairy for several decades. In 1974, the Burroughs sold the parcel immediately east of Emerson Slough to the Gilbert Family.

The Burroughs and Gilbert parcels then managed as range land for over two decades. The site is located within the city limits of Oakley and is inside the County’s Urban Limit Line. In the 1990 Contra Costa County General Plan, the Project site was zoned “M-8”, mixed use development. In 1997, the landowners and the County recorded development agreements on all three properties that would allow for development of a total of 4,100-6,000 residential units on the 1,700 acres owned by these two families, which included property both north and south of the Contra Costa Canal to Cypress Road. When the City of Oakley incorporated in 1999, it was required to honor these development agreements. In October of 2003, the Dutch Slough Tidal Restoration Project site (all north of the Contra Costa Canal) was acquired by DWR for $28 million.

Under a negotiated agreement with the City of Oakley, the Emerson, Gilbert, and Burroughs families deeded 63 acres and approximately 5 miles of trail easements across the site to the City of Oakley for a community park, 55 acres of upland, at the end of Sellers Road. The former dairy site and the Gilbert house and outbuildings, will be owned by the City for the exclusive purpose of developing a community park. The City will also assume title to an 8-acre waterfront parcel east of Jersey Island Road along Dutch Slough.

The properties were finally deeded over to the city within the last few months.

The total project could cost anywhere between $50 and $60 millions to complete with much, if not all, of the funding coming from various Federal, State and private grants. The conceptual plan is likely to change depending on the requirements of a particular grant.

The Gilbert house in better days, Reportedly built in 1908 includes a wrap around porch and a view of the Emerson Slough

The Gilbert house today from the Emerson Slough

Dairy worker housing probably built in the 1920’s

One of many barns on the property in various states of disrepair

Old silos

About Kevin

Mayor - City of Oakley, Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-POSCO INDUSTRIES, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Commissioner - Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Board Member - Tri Delta Transit, Transplan, San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority and RD 2137, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction
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