A 25-year dream of the East Palo Alto community and its partners came true this weekend! The Cooley Landing Educational Center held its grand opening. It is beautiful!
The dream started with a purchase of the land 25 years ago made possible by David Packard and the Packard Foundation. According to Cole Wilbur from the Packard Foundation, it was the last grant of Mr. Packard's life. He signed it before a month before he died. He asked two questions: Would it help or change things? Would it be a Packard project of the community's project. He was told it would change things and the community would drive the project. With that, he approved the money for the land.
Congresswoman Anna Eshoo brought in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help clean-up this toxic superfund site. Today it is a beautiful, peaceful green space that will provide environmental education for generations to come.
The State Parks Department committed $5M because the community was totally invested in this dream; more than 4000 community meetings were held and this was their top priority. "The spirit of hope radiates here," said Cedric Mitchell, Deputy Director of External Affairs Statewide Parks Program who was thrilled to be part of this project.
The MidPeninsula Regional Open Space District purchased adjacent property to create open space along the Bay and (along with the County and others) have raised the money to close the half-mile gap in the Bay Trail--making the center accessible on foot and by bicycle!
Lily Lee, Clean-Up Manager from U.S. EPA, was embedded in the project for the past 13 years. She's made deep friendships and is very proud to see the restoration of this land and to make it a public space once again.
Mayor Donna Rutherford officiated! The entire legislative delegation was on hand: Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Senator Jerry Hill, Assemblyman Rich Gordon, myself and former Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson, Nanette Hanko, a Director from the MidPeninsula Regional Open Space District, Cole Wilbur from the Packard Foundation, and the entire East Palo Alto Council--Lisa Gauthier, Ruben Abrica, Carlos Romera and Larry Moody were on hand to mark the occasion. And so was former council member and Sequoia District Trustee Laura Martinez!