A project to turn a former county dump in East Palo Alto into a 9-acre waterfront park is breaking ground at Cooley Landing today.
East Palo Alto Mayor Carlos Romero gathered at noon with local and federal officials -- including representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District -- to break ground on Phase I of the project.
Phase I includes cleaning up the topsoil on the property, which was contaminated during the site's use as a San Mateo County dump from the 1930s until the 1960s, East Palo Alto project manager Shannon Alford said.
Once the soil is rendered safe, crews will install a trail system around the property, which extends into the Bay and is sandwiched by the Ravenswood Open Space Preserve to the north and the Baylands Nature Preserve to the south.
Local children will help replant the site with native plants, and picnic tables and benches will be set up that will offer Bay views.
Future phases of the park's development include construction of an outdoor classroom and a nature education facility, Alford said.
The project will transform Cooley Landing into East Palo Alto's first public park on the edge of the Bay. If everything goes as planned, the park could be open to the public as early as summer 2012, Alford said.
The $4 million project is being paid for by grants and other funding from the Packard Foundation, the EPA, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, San Francisco Bay Trail Project and the California Costal Conservancy.
Once Cooley Landing opens to the public, it will increase East Palo Alto's existing 16 acres of parkland by nearly 72 percent.