First new park and campground in decades along San Francisco Bay to open at former quarry site Leave a comment


For years, the Dumbarton Quarry was a giant hole in the ground, a 320-foot deep gravel pit that produced rock used for half a century to build up San Francisco and Oakland’s airports, freeways, bridges and other building projects.

But now the former industrial site on San Francisco Bay’s waterfront in Fremont will build something new: Family memories and a love of the outdoors.

On Friday, after 14 years of planning, negotiations and construction to fill the massive hole in the ground, the East Bay Regional Park District will open a campground replacing the former quarry with picnic areas, a playground, 200-seat amphitheater, restrooms, showers and trails.

The project on the north side of the Dumbarton Bridge in Alameda County will connect the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge with Coyote Hills Regional Park, a popular East Bay attraction visited by more than 600,000 hikers, bicyclists and outdoor lovers last year. It is one of the only public campgrounds to be built near the bay’s shoreline in decades, a situation driven in large part by high land prices, and a reluctance of some parks districts to construct new facilities that will require hiring more staff to maintain.

In an era when even modest hotel rooms can cost hundreds of dollars a night, supporters say the project will provide working-class families affordable, overnight vacation opportunities.

“This is going to bring a whole new generation of urban families to camp,” said Bob Doyle, the former general manager of East Bay parks who negotiated the deal. “You don’t have to go to Tahoe. You don’t have to go to a crowded national park. It’s going to be right in the Bay Area’s back yard.”

Dumbarton Quarry, shown here in 2005, was 320 feet deep. Closed in 2007, it was filled in with dirt and rock from multiple construction projects, including the expansion of BART to the South Bay, and converted into a campground operated by the East Bay Regional Park District. 

The facility opens on Friday with 63 campsites, 60 of which have hookups for RVs.

Reservations for campsites began Wednesday, at $45 for tent camping and $65 for RV camping, and can be made by going to reserveamerica.com and entering “Dumbarton Quarry Campground” or by calling (888) 327-2757 or by emailing reservations@ebparks.org.

The project has a long and winding history.

The quarry opened in the 1950s and soon became a heavily industrialized site, with an asphalt plant, giant steam shovels, bulldozers and other equipment. Eventually the pit was 320 feet deep and 1,400 feet across — a hard rock mine as wide as four football fields.

State and federal laws require mining companies to repair or reclaim their property when mining is finished. In 1977, Dumbarton Quarry Associates, the property’s owner, applied to the city of Fremont to extend its permit and continue operations at the quarry. The request was controversial, with some residents wanting the quarry shut down. After negotiations, city leaders agreed to extend the permit. But they required the land to be reclaimed and transferred to the park district by 1997.

When that date arrived, the company sought an extension. The park district and the city agreed to delay the transfer for 10 more years in exchange for the company designing, constructing and paying for a future park and campgrounds at the site.

The quarry shut down in 2007. Originally, the company planned to fill the pit with water and turn it into a lake with recreational boating. But the state was in a drought at the time, and a consistent water source couldn’t be found. Plans to take water from Alameda Creek fell through over concerns about endangered steelhead trout, and then other issues about the water stagnating ended the lake idea.

Facing a potentially lengthy court battle, in 2012 the company, the city and the park district approved final plans for the campgrounds.

The pit was filled with 6 million cubic yards of dirt and rock — enough to fill 600,000 dump trucks. The process took 12 years.

The dirt and rock came from multiple large construction projects around the Bay Area over the past decade that needed a disposal site, including the expansion of BART to the South Bay, and the San Francisco Central Subway Muni extension, which includes two large tunnels in the city’s Chinatown area.

Crews from Dumbarton Quarry Associates compacted the top 50 feet of dirt with a 10-ton weight suspended from a crane. The company spent $15 million on the project, bringing in water lines, sewer lines, electricity, the campsites, even wifi.

“Everybody is pretty proud of it. It’s going to be a tremendous resource for the area,” said Bob McCarrick, president of Dumbarton Quarry Associates, which is part of DeSilva Gates Construction in Dublin.

A store will open in a month, with laundry, firewood sales, and even plans to rent camping gear. Over the next 10 years, plans call for more facilities to be built, including an events building that could host weddings and other occasions, along with 19 additional campsites, 28 cabins and two large group camping areas.

Ten years ago, when Jim O’Connor, the park district’s assistant general manager of operations, first began work at East Bay parks, he flew over the quarry site in a helicopter.

“My predecessor told me, that’s going to be a park,” he said. “I thought, not in my lifetime.”

But now the newly planted trees, wildflowers, and bushes are taking root. The trail linking the campground to Coyote Hills is finished, and a new chapter is unfolding.

“You’ll be able to watch the sunset over the bay and hike down to your campsite,” O’Connor said. “This is going to evolve over time. It’s going to be a really nice facility.”

FREMONT, CA – AUGUST 24: A portion of the East Bay Regional Park District’s new Dumbarton Quarry Campground, bottom right, is seen from this drone view on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Fremont, Calif. The former quarry has been turned into a park for recreational vehicle and tent camping, and will have a picnic area, playground, amphitheater, restrooms and trails. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group) 
FREMONT, CA – AUGUST 24: With Fremont Mayor Lily Mei nearby, Bob McCarrick, right, of Dumbarton Quarry Associates, is photographed at the East Bay Regional Park District’s Dumbarton Quarry Campground on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Fremont, Calif. The former quarry has been turned into a park, for RV and tent camping along with a picnic area, playground, amphitheater, restrooms and trails. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) 
Dumbarton Quarry, shown here in 2005, was 320 feet deep. Closed in 2007, it was filled in with dirt and rock from multiple construction projects, including the expansion of BART to the South Bay, and converted into a campground operated by the East Bay Regional Park District. 
FREMONT, CA – AUGUST 24: A portion of the East Bay Regional Park District’s new Dumbarton Quarry Campground is seen from this drone view on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Fremont, Calif. The former quarry has been turned into a park for recreational vehicle and tent camping, and will have a picnic area, playground, amphitheater, restrooms and trails. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group) 
FREMONT, CA – AUGUST 24: Fremont Mayor Lily Mei photographs an area under construction at the Dumbarton Quarry Campground on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Fremont, Calif. The former quarry has been turned into a park, for RV and tent camping along with a picnic area, playground, amphitheater, restrooms and trails. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) 
FREMONT, CA – AUGUST 24: The East Bay Regional Park District Dumbarton Quarry Campground is photographed on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Fremont, Calif. The former quarry has been turned into a park, for RV and tent camping along with a picnic area, playground, amphitheater, restrooms and trails. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) 
FREMONT, CA – AUGUST 24: The East Bay Regional Park District’s new Dumbarton Quarry Campground is seen from this drone view on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Fremont, Calif. The former quarry has been turned into a park for recreational vehicle and tent camping, and will have a picnic area, playground, amphitheater, restrooms and trails. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group) 
FREMONT, CA – AUGUST 24: A worker walks past a playground at the Dumbarton Quarry Campground on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Fremont, Calif. The former quarry has been turned into a park, for RV and tent camping along with a picnic area, playground, amphitheater, restrooms and trails. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) 
FREMONT, CA – AUGUST 24: Campsites for recreational vehicles are photographed at the East Bay Regional Park District’s Dumbarton Quarry Campground on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Fremont, Calif. The former quarry has been turned into a park, for RV and tent camping along with a picnic area, playground, amphitheater, restrooms and trails. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) 
FREMONT, CA – AUGUST 24: Dirt is unloaded at the East Bay Regional Park District’s Dumbarton Quarry Campground on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Fremont, Calif. The former quarry has been turned into a park, for RV and tent camping along with a picnic area, playground, amphitheater, restrooms and trails. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) 
FREMONT, CA – AUGUST 24: East Bay Regional Park District staff members Dave Mason, left, Jim O’Connor, center, and Fremont Mayor Lily Mei, right, are photographed in an RV campsite at the Dumbarton Quarry Campground on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Fremont, Calif. The former quarry has been turned into a park, for RV and tent camping along with a picnic area, playground, amphitheater, restrooms and trails. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) 
FREMONT, CA – AUGUST 24: A portion of the East Bay Regional Park District’s new Dumbarton Quarry Campground is seen from this drone view on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Fremont, Calif. The former quarry has been turned into a park for recreational vehicle and tent camping, and will have a picnic area, playground, amphitheater, restrooms and trails. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group) 
FREMONT, CA – AUGUST 24: Workers finish construction of an amphitheater inside the Dumbarton Quarry Campground on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Fremont, Calif. The former quarry has been turned into a park, for RV and tent camping along with a picnic area, playground, amphitheater, restrooms and trails. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) 
FREMONT, CA – AUGUST 24: Dirt is unloaded at the East Bay Regional Park District’s Dumbarton Quarry Campground on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Fremont, Calif. The former quarry has been turned into a park, for RV and tent camping along with a picnic area, playground, amphitheater, restrooms and trails. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) 
FREMONT, CA – AUGUST 24: The East Bay Regional Park District’s new Dumbarton Quarry Campground is seen from this drone view on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Fremont, Calif. The former quarry has been turned into a park for recreational vehicle and tent camping, and will have a picnic area, playground, amphitheater, restrooms and trails. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group) 
FREMONT, CA – AUGUST 24: Dirt is unloaded at the East Bay Regional Park District’s Dumbarton Quarry Campground on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Fremont, Calif. The former quarry has been turned into a park, for RV and tent camping along with a picnic area, playground, amphitheater, restrooms and trails. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) 
FREMONT, CA – AUGUST 24: East Bay Regional Park District’s new Dumbarton Quarry Campground is photographed on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Fremont, Calif. The former quarry has been turned into a park, for RV and tent camping along with a picnic area, playground, amphitheater, restrooms and trails. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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