Hark - A Park! Dozens of Them, In Fact

In her recent state of the city address, Mayor Jennifer Hosterman talked about how Pleasanton's 43 neighborhood and community parks contributed to its quality of life. Behind a healthy budget and economy, quality of life ranks as the second of the City Council's top five priorities for 2008. Two projects currently underway drew specific mention from Hosterman: restoration of the Alviso Adobe and Bernal Community Park.

Offering a little piece of California history, the Alviso Park will include the old home as it looked in 1910, along with a reconstruction of the Meadowlark Dairy barn, on a 6.5-acre sliver off Foothill Road. According to city landscape architect Mike Fulford, construction is expected to wind up this summer, with a public opening slated for late October.

The first phase of the new Bernal Community Park , on the southern side of town across from the Fairgrounds, will offer a completely different kind of recreational experience. About a month ago crews began work to turn a 13-acre segment into three baseball diamonds, two of which will be lighted, along with a play apparatus, central plaza, parking lot, storage, and other amenities. Completion is scheduled for late 2009. Subsequent phases, with no completion date as yet, will feature a 50-acre woodland graded into a gently rolling topography, traversed by bike and foot trails and planted with hundreds of indigenous trees like live oaks, valley oaks, and bay laurel. Several lighted combination sports fields, for lacrosse, football, and soccer, are also planned. The design of the remaining portions of the 300-acre parcel will be decided over the next 15 years.

While the new parks will definitely enhance the local quality of life, a plethora of existing recreation areas already create inviting opportunities to commune with nature in just about any way imaginable. From a quiet nook for an al fresco lunch to a sunny splash in the lake, with a quick trip to the dog park so Rover can have his romp, the region is rich in outdoor public spaces. Below is a summary of some of the best places to bask in the great outdoors. Don't forget the sunscreen!

Hacienda Parks

If the added hours of daylight have lengthened your workday, consider taking an extra break to unwind. Hacienda has several outdoor areas with quick and convenient access for use by all tenants and residents within the development.

Creekside Park is dominated by a large, 6.6-acre open lawn space, with courts for basketball and sand volleyball and a play area with swings. Access is through the parking lot off West Las Positas Boulevard between Owens and Stoneridge drives, or from the Linear Park, described below, via a footbridge over Tassajara Creek.

A private greenbelt, the Hacienda Linear Park is reserved exclusively for park tenants and residents. The park covers several acres and offers a basketball court, tennis court, picnic area, tot lot, and open lawn area. Located adjacent to Owens Plaza and Creekside parks, it's best accessed through the Owens Plaza Park entrance at Rosewood Drive and Owens Drive.

Owens Plaza Park, which abuts the center portion of the Linear Park, features three acres of lawn, with picnic tables, benches, and a tot lot. Turn down the tree-lined entry off of Owens Drive to the Archstone Hacienda apartments for access.

A 2.3-mile, 18-station outdoor parcourse for walkers and joggers meanders through Hacienda. Maps of the route are available at www.hacienda.org/pdf/parcourse.pdf .

You can really stretch your legs along the Iron Horse Trail, which follows the 1891 Southern Pacific Railroad right-of-way (abandoned in 1977), from Suisun Bay in Contra Costa County to Livermore, connecting two counties and 12 cities in a 33-mile swath. A significant segment runs through Hacienda; watch for new city signs pointing out the location. From the north the trail passes under the BART station and into the park, running generally along the south side of Owens Drive. As it continues eastward it connects up with its newest leg, a one-mile sector that extends from Santa Rita Road, across Mohr Avenue, to Busch Road. Officially dedicated on March 31, this segment features a 10-foot wide paved path with a two-foot wide decomposed granite lane, allowing walkers, runners, skaters, and cyclists to share the trail. Other amenities include benches, distance markers, a water fountain, and landscaping. The $1.6 million project was a cooperative effort between the City of Pleasanton, Ponderosa Homes, East Bay Regional Park District and the Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority.

Neighborhood Parks

Dozens of neighborhood parks are located throughout the city for use by its residents and visitors. Near Hacienda, you'll find Sutter Gate Neighborhood Park at 4801 Sutter Gate Road, which offers a children's play area and picnic tables. Also nearby is Woodthrush Neighborhood Park , at 5051 Woodthrush Road, a good place for an afternoon walk or reading beneath a shade tree. Fairlands Neighborhood Park , at 4100 Churchill Drive, is a 14-acre park featuring two tennis courts and a children's play area.

Sports and Specialty Parks

Pleasanton also offers a wide variety of sports and recreation-oriented facilities to suit all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts.

The 24 acres at nearby Val Vista Community Park, west of Hacienda at 7350 Johnson Drive, accommodate a broad spectrum of activities. Well-equipped with picnic tables and barbecue pits, soccer and baseball fields, and a children's play area, the park is also home to a well-tended community garden, with plots available to rent to Pleasanton residents. Bordering a perimeter walking path, it's a great place to stroll for inspiration on the produce to plant this summer. For the high-energy set, the stand-out attraction is the 25,000-square-foot sculpted concrete basin designed with input from its user community of skateboarders and inline skaters. Helmets and kneepads are required. A city-sponsored recreational roller hockey program for youth in grades 1-9 is also based in the park.

A smaller and older skate park, built in 1994 at the front of the Pleasanton Sports Park along Hopyard Road, still gets heavy use, as does the purpose-built dirt track for BMX riders at 3320 Stanley Boulevard. A maintenance person, a former BMX pro, inspects the track and makes sure it is "safe and sane" for all several times every week.

Bocce courts, home to beginner and advanced league teams, are located at Centennial Community Park , next to the Senior Center.

Canines can chase frisbees and socialize with their friends at the dog park in Muirwood Community Park , 4701 Muirwood Drive. Two designated sections enable owners to separate larger species from those 20 pounds and under. More so than the typical square or rectangle, the park's linear layout is ideal for a good run. Another dog park is on the drawing board for the Bernal Community Park.

The 103-acre Pleasanton Sports Park , at 5800 Parkside Drive, just off Hopyard Road and only steps from Hacienda, boasts soccer fields and nearly 20 softball diamonds for business and municipal leagues. Call (925) 931-5348 for league sports information.

For water lovers, the Dolores Bengtson Aquatic Center at 4455 Black Avenue offers four heated pools including a large, shallow pool; a diving pool with both one and three meter springboards; a 25-meter, eight-lane racing pool; and a 50-meter by 25-yard competitive pool. Open swim times are available, as are organized water exercise programs and aqua aerobics. Call (925) 931-3420 for information.

The Tennis and Community Park at Hopyard Road and Valley Avenue offers 10 lighted courts, all open to the public from 9:00 a.m. each day, weather permitting. Occasionally the courts are available on a drop-in basis, but reservations are suggested. Call (925) 931-3446 for information.

Golfers have been enjoying the terrain, the views, and the wildlife habitats at Callippe Preserve Golf Course since it opened in November 2005. Named after the callippe silverspot butterfly, the 18-hole public course is set among the foothills of southeast Pleasanton. Amenities include two practice putting greens, a driving range, and an expansive clubhouse with restaurant seating for nearly 200 people. Tee times can be reserved online at www.playcallippe.com .

Regional Parks

A trek through the ridgelands at the city's western edge is the perfect way to recharge and view the Amador Valley from a new perspective.

Augustin Bernal Park is a Pleasanton-owned 232-acre wilderness area reserved for city residents or available to non-residents with a permit. Entrance to the park is made through Golden Eagle Drive off Foothill Road.

The much larger, contiguous Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park sprawls over 5,271 acres, at some points reaching elevations of 1,600 feet. The main staging area on Foothill Road leads to a multi-purpose trail system that accommodates hikers, equestrians, bicyclists, and visitors who use electric wheelchairs.

More water fun is available at Shadow Cliffs, a mile from downtown Pleasanton on Stanley Boulevard. Billed as "a haven for swimming and fishing," the 266-acre park boasts a sandy beach perfect for lolling, with a bathhouse and refreshment stand nearby. Facilities for persons with disabilities include beach wheelchairs, available free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis. Fishing by permit can yield trout or catfish, stocked weekly, along with native bluegill and black bass. Boats up to 17 feet can be launched from a ramp or rented on the premises. Jet skis and gas engines are not allowed. The privately owned and operated Rapids Waterslide is adjacent to the park, open weekends starting May 26 and daily during the summer.

Lake Del Valle , on Del Valle Road just a few miles south of Interstate 580 in Livermore, is a multipurpose aquatic paradise. The five-mile-long lake welcomes sailboats, sailboarders, and swimmers, who can pursue their hobby year-round from several unsupervised points on the beach. A 150-site campground makes for an easy family get-away; check the web site below for reservations. Along with excellent fishing, the park offers an active interpretive program, from natural history exhibits to lake ecology and history boat tours. Paddle boats, kayaks, canoes, and more are available for rent, and any size boat can be launched from the public boat ramp. The surrounding 4,316 acres of beautiful land invite hiking, horseback riding, and nature study. Del Valle is also the eastern gateway to the Ohlone Wilderness Trail. For more information and a trail map, go to: www.ebparks.org/parks/del_valle/ .

More Information Available

The Hacienda Owners Association has a variety of maps and other resources regarding local parks that are available at their office and on the Hacienda web site at www.hacienda.org. Contact the Association by phone at (925) 734-6500 or drop by their offices at 4473 Willow Road, Suite 105 for a complete recreation package.

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