Ten years after we began our work on the Concord Naval Weapons Station (CNWS) Area Reuse Plan, changes to this more than 5,000-acre swath between Concord and Pittsburg south of Highway 4 are starting to happen on the ground.
Eventually more than 12,000 housing units are envisioned, and 69% of the area will become protected city parks, greenways and East Bay regional park land. None of the large conservation gains won on this project could have happened without the extensive cooperation and collaboration efforts Save Mount Diablo has engaged in for over a decade.
In 2005, the Navy approved the closure of the 5,046-acre inland area of the CNWS, a landscape of rolling hills, grassland, and oak woodland dotted with bunkers and old railroad tracks. Even before 2005, Save Mount Diablo saw the huge opportunity that this vast area of mostly-undeveloped land represented for wildlife habitat protection and outdoor recreational experiences. We also recognized that others saw great opportunities of a different sort, and that by working together, everyone had a better chance of accomplishing their own separate goals and winning much more than would be possible if everyone went it alone.
In 2007, we joined with Concord residents around CNWS, labor unions, interfaith groups, affordable housing advocates and other environmental organizations to form the Community Coalition for a Sustainable Concord (CCSC).
Over the next five years as Concord prepared the Area Reuse Plan, which would be the blueprint for future use of the CNWS, the CCSC worked to make its vision of a vibrant mix of jobs and affordable homes in walkable neighborhoods surrounded by protected open space become reality.
As a result, when the City adopted the Area Reuse Plan in 2012, over 3,500 acres of land were designated as parks, greenways and open space. Most of this will be a new regional park owned and managed by the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD), which is currently finalizing a Park Use Plan for the area. Affordable housing guidelines were also set, greenway buffers between existing residents and new development would be created, good jobs would be secured and transit-oriented mixeduse development would be built to capitalize on the North Concord BART Station and keep as many cars off the road as possible.
Since 2014 we have played an active role as Concord searched for a Master Developer to start implementing the Area Reuse Plan vision. Lennar was chosen as Master Developer this year.
Next, as a Specific Plan is crafted and put into practice over the next few years, our work will focus on making sure that our gains in the Area Reuse Plan are put into place on the ground. First the Navy must transfer the land to Concord and EBRPD, which could happen for EBRPD by mid-2017. The recent visit by Secretary of the Interior Jewell to the CNWS for the Port Chicago Memorial could speed things up.
Our hope is that we will be successful in the future by doing what has worked so well for us in the past: collaborating with different stakeholders to accomplish goals that benefit our entire community.