East Bay park district defies Fremont’s wishes; Mission Peak entrance to reopen in two weeks

The staging area that leads to the popular Mission Peak Regional Preserve in Fremont will stay closed through May 4 while East Bay Regional Park District workers clean up garbage and a bathroom left ransacked by residents escaping home confinement due to covid-19.

Tri Cities beatRobert Doyle, general manager for the East Bay Regional Park District, made the determination on Tuesday afternoon to close the park to pedestrian and vehicle traffic for another two weeks. The move was supported by the Board of Directors. The Mission Peak entrance on Stanford Avenue was temporarily closed by the district on April 18.

The move by the district came in defiance of a request by the city of Fremont on April 9 to keep the park entrance closed indefinitely after city officials observed packed crowds at the park.

Alameda County public health officials, however, determined the crowds did not constitute a public health concern.

“It is a sanitation issue at this stage,” said Ayn Wieskamp, an East Bay Regional Park District director who represents Livermore. She urged park goers to be more responsible for picking up trash after themselves and their dogs. Problems with residents adhering to social distancing guidelines has often been evident, Wieskamp acknowledged.

After the county and state’s shelter in place orders were given last month, park district directors have attempted to find a middle ground between allowing residents a respite from their homes to enjoy the outdoors, while also avoiding the spread of the virus.

East Bay Regional Park District Director Dennis Waespi, who represents Castro Valley, said he believes the longer the park stays closed, the more likely local officials will move to keep it that way.

“I’m puzzled why it takes two weeks to essentially close one restroom?” Waespi asked . Doyle said other restrooms in the parks’ system also have cleanliness issues because of the limited staff available due to the covid-19 pandemic.