Community Journal: A walk to Sweeney Park

Community Journal: A walk to Sweeney Park

Richard Bangert

Photos by Richard Bangert.

Finding Marina Cove Waterfront Park for the start of Saturday’s “Alameda Walks” event was an educational experience. I was glad it was not where the city’s event map pointed to – the landscaped strip in front of the Alameda Municipal Power building on Grand Street. That’s where some of us went first before following our noses a few blocks west to Ohlone Street.

Tucked away at the end of the street was our starting point, where the ever-ebullient Pat Russi, of Alameda’s Recreation and Park Department, called the group of about 25 together for a pep talk. Then, off we headed from Ohlone and Clement Avenue along the changing Northern Waterfront toward our turnaround destination – Jean Sweeney Open Space Park.

To our right were yachts. To our left, a small mountain of soil in what will soon become the Marina Cove II residential development (now being called Marina Shores) on Buena Vista Avenue. A few steps further we passed between the Del Monte warehouse and the Encinal Terminal waterfront parcel, before crossing to the eastern gate into Sweeney Park.

We gathered inside Sweeney Park on a temporary parking lot where large construction vehicles were parked. The space is being leased to the East Bay Municipal Utility District for local work projects, with the revenue going toward the park.

Bill Delaney, chair of the Recreation and Park Commission, introduced the park to the group. He pointed out that Sweeney Park will take five or six years to complete, with much of the funding still not secured. But for many in the group, the park already provides recreational value, even in its rough stage.

We weren’t long on the trail before someone spotted blackberries, and several people stopped to gather some. Longtime Sweeney Park booster Dorothy Freeman was along for the walk, and she pointed out that the blackberry plants found throughout the park are not native blackberry and are very invasive. She said they will have to be removed, but not to worry.

“New native blackberry bushes will be planted around the community garden for food and to act as the fence around the portion that will have the raised beds for community members,” Freeman said, adding that the blackberries are important to many park boosters.

When asked about groups having access to the park before it officially opens, Freeman said it's available for tours, bike rides and cleanups. She said she and Jim Sweeney can work with the city’s parks department to plan events; additional information is available on the Sweeney park foundation’s website.

Freeman said the parks group needs 20 volunteers in October to help clean up weeds near the park’s east gateway and to paint the park storage container and place a Sweeney Park sign on it. Anyone interested in participating can e-mail

The Jean Sweeney Open Space Park Fund, which was set up to help the Alameda Recreation and Park Department with fundraising for the park, has obtained nonprofit status and can now accept donations. Donations can be made through the website.

Tools for cleanup work have already been purchased with the help of a grant from the Alameda Community Fund and support from Encinal Hardware. The Jean Sweeney Open Space Park Fund will have a booth at the "Everything Alameda" event on September 27 at Washington Park.

Information on future Alameda Walks events is available on the city’s website. The program is sponsored by Alameda Collaborative for Children, Youth and Their Families Alameda, the Alameda Recreation and Park Department and BikeWalk Alameda.

Richard Bangert writes and posts photos on his blog, the Alameda Point Environmental Report.

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Submitted by Bill Delaney (not verified) on Sat, Aug 9, 2014

Nice article here regarding the Jean Sweeney Open Space Park. It was rewarding to see a fair amount of people come out to view the park and to express interest in supporting it. There is a lot to do, but we have come a long way already and we will make positive progress going forward.