Dumbarton Quarry won’t become Dumbarton Lake

For years the plan has been to fill as 300-foot-deep, 20-acre wide quarry pit with water and turn it into a lake just north of the Dumbarton Bridge.

But that’s not going to happen. The old quarry operator, which is required to build Dumbarton Regional Park, and was supposed to have finished it by now, can’t get a water supply to the pit. A plan to bring water over from Alameda Creek drew the ire of regulatory agencies because that would mean less water for those future steelhead trout runs they’re counting on.

Meanwhile, the park district isn’t having the easiest time negotiating with the quarry operator. In June, the district wrote the city a letter alerting it that it couldn’t guarantee that the company (Dumbarton Quarry Associates, a.ka. DeSilva Gates) would live up to its end of the bargain and build a park with as fine amenities as a big lake.

Read the letter below:
East Bay Regional Park District Letter

Matt Artz


  1. My understanding is that a commitment was made that allowed DQA to continue to quarry that hole (and create one of, if not the deepest holes, in the United States). If they are now saying “we don’t know how to keep this commitment” – they have got some “splainin’ to do” and better get ready to open up that checkbook. It seems to me that all of those revenues gained on the back of this commitment could be on the table.

    Who okayed this lunacy without a solid plan?

  2. There are a couple of issues here . . . one is the willingness and ability of DHQ to deliver as promised, but the other is the viability of the original “plan” which, as the details become known, is (again) looking increasingly ill-conceived.

    Specifically – “..agencies also were concerned that, with no feasible way for lake water to flow into the bay, the lake would accumulate unhealthy concentrations of metals and salts, making it inhospitable for fish.” – this concern is in addition to the logistics of filling the thing.

    Oh my . . . oh gosh. . . we’re JUST NOW getting around to considering these points ???!!!!

    Oh well, at least we had good intentions.


  3. This is the result of part time city council politicians making these bad decisions, that the residents of Fremont have to live with forever.
    We need a strong full time Mayor and better representation for the city of Fremont. Go to seven Council Members and some form of district elections

  4. When the use permit extension was granted, Tri-City Ecology Center, represented by John Bernstein and John Landers, told the Planning Commission, the City Council, and the Park District exactly what the problem would be. In Matt’s article, you could substitute the speaker in each quote and it would almost be exact.

    DQA won the extension by guaranteeing a turn-key park at the end of ten years, and that they understood the problems and there was ten years to solve them. They would find a source for water and they would resolve the issues of the lack of an outflow from the lake (320 feet deep.) The park district supported the extension and the agreement offered by DQA for the completed park.

    The Dumbarton Quarry has been an item on the ecology center’s board meeting agenda for years, with constant reminding of city and park district staff and our elected representatives. I recently spoke to the Planning Commission when DQA decided they wanted to start filling the hole with dirt.

    I think much of the problem is the turnover of staff and elected officials and the loss of the institutional memory. The completed park was offered by DQA, not demanded by the city or park district, and is a legally, contractual requirement. It must be delivered as commtted, or with a revised plan approved by the city and the park district.

    For me, I still think it is a great place for bungee jumping into the pit.

  5. Which problem are you alluding to (there are so many here) when you say “….much of the problem is the turnover of staff and elected officials and the loss of the institutional memory.”?

    I’m shocked that a modern day institution of ANY kind could be subject to any material “..loss of institutional memory.”

    Isn’t that why we create written records and filing systems ??? You know, so that we do NOT have to rely on individual memory ????

    wowie !!!!

  6. Gus,
    Thank you for the explanation.

    DQA won the extension by guaranteeing a turn-key park at the end of ten years, and that they understood the problems and there was ten years to solve them…. The park district supported the extension and the agreement offered by DQA for the completed park.
    Was EBRPD the sole decision maker here or did DQA need to get additional permission for this? If so, from who?

    Thanks again. Dan

  7. Thanks for the explanation Gus.

    “DQA won the extension by guaranteeing a turn-key park at the end of ten years, and that they understood the problems and there was ten years to solve them. They would find a source for water and they would resolve the issues of the lack of an outflow from the lake (320 feet deep.) The park district supported the extension and the agreement offered by DQA for the completed park.”

    Was EBRPD the only gate or did other agencies have to approve this as well?

    Thanks again,

  8. Sorry, didn’t think the first one went.


    Jimmy two times
    (I’m gonna go get the papers …get the papers)

  9. Is our City Attorney getting ready to sue DQA? I sure hope so.

  10. I attended the meeting where DQA gave their song and dance. Big promises of a lake with fish, parklands and a campground for tents and recreational vehicles. Public concerns about water sources and how fish were expected to live in a stagnant lake pit were disregarded. Oh, this was going to be a tourist attraction, close to the Dumbarton Bridge. The park district and the city had already made up their minds. The public meeting was just for show.

    But Fremont and the park district are not alone. The City of Newark has been promising a championship golf course and high-end housing for years; to be located on former duck club land surrounded by industrial uses. It’s a game cities play.

  11. Dan,

    The city approved the extension of the quarry use permit, based on the stated conditions about the park. I think DQA has bonded to guarantee the park improvements, so a law suit may not be required. The park district did not get a vote, but I don’t believe the permit would have passed the council without their endorsement of the project.

  12. Conditions of Approval for the quarry reclamation plan state that completion of deeding the site to EBRPD comes with an irrevocable agreement bonded for at least $2 million. The bond is between the applicant (DQA) and the park district.

    The Concept Plan adopted by the City of Fremont March 25, 1997 promises “The 30 acre lake circled by a path is the centerpiece of the park. The 6 acre meadow adjacent to the lake provides space for family recreation.” Looks like there will have to be a new centerpiece.

  13. A new “crown jewel” – –

    Where have I heard that before ?

    So we gave up 10 years of incremental mining which had a value of $______ – – – In return the city will now realize a $2M bond settlement . . . . maybe.

    Good deal or not ????

    If DQA had ORIGINALLY offered COF $2M in exchange for another 10 years use, instead of the lake/park promise, whatdya think – we would have taken the deal or not ???

  14. Thank you Gus and Margaret.

    What an absolute shame.

    However, it might be interesting to see what the value of that incremental mining bBox mentions. Could DQA monies help out reversing the mistake of zoning the lands in front of the southern part of the Park for that Cargill 900000 square foot development?

    That’s an even bigger mistake….

  15. ANY monies in this economy would be welcome and could be put to good uses (or not).

    What those monies cannot begin to resolve is a process which permitted our community to arrive at this outcome in the first place, and, more imporantly, what we do to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence.

  16. “The ongoing operation to fill the quarry pit is expected to last 12-17 years depending on the availability of material.”

    That’s 12 to 17 years of truck traffic needed to fill this thing, if it even happens.

    DQA got their return on this deal a long time ago.

    Meanwhile, the value promised to Fremont residents continues to slip further and further into the future. Any economist could tell you why time alone is making this future promise worth progressively less and less to the taxpayers and residents of Fremont – even assuming we were receiving EXACTLY what was originally agreed to.

    On the bright side, we had the best of intentions and, someday, might have a park – if, that is, some other insurmountable obstacle doesn’t require a re-renegotiation of this latest deal.

  17. Hopefully, Susie, Bill and Anu will address the THREE major considerations which need to be addressed with this latest debacle. We’re always quick to explain away why things didn’t happen as plan, re-do another deal, just to find ourselves staring at an empty “pit” again in the future. Take a look at Centerville if you need evidence.

    1.) What will we do to remediate the “pit” and surrounding area to some kind of condition approaching what was originally promised?

    2.) What assurances do we build in to the agreement – *TODAY* – such that, should DQA default again, Fremont residents and taxpayers are not left holding the bag.

    3.) Finally, what contingency do we build into the deal such that, if business conditions devolve in the next 12 to 17 years and, potentially, find DQA and/or their carriers broke or destitute or just not able to perform as agreed – there is some return of the very significant value DQA was permitted to extract from our community.

    Contingencies are burdensome.

    Had DQA not defaulted on their previous agreement, trust and confidence in their contracts and providers would be the norm.

    Anything less than very solid (and documented) responses to all three of the above points, sets the stage for a repeat of Centerville in the Dumbarton Quarry – with, ONCE AGAIN, Fremont taxpayers suffering the consequences.

    On the bright side, I know we have the best of intentions.

  18. I am overwhelmed, this is what this BLOG should be used for. Great information from Environmentalist and Mayor Gus.
    I just reviewed the info, it is a shame we do not have a local paper to report this, oh wait a minute “Tri City Voice” did several articles on his,
    Chris what a story, we have already done all the work for you. Do you think BANG will let you do a story of importance “Dumbarton Quarry” for the People of the Tri City Area.

  19. #22
    JS: This story is as deep as that pit and it is evolving. No knock on TCV but what has printed in my opinion only scratches the surface. We need all the papers covering this.

  20. Nahhhh – come on, Dan-O whats your problem????

    MUCH better we should be spending the very limited time which we can allocate to Fremont-related articles doing a write up on random food trucks operated by non-Fremontians or a watering hole in Newark.

  21. #23
    Come on Boxie…you and your ilk are well aware that random food trucks mean business!

  22. I visited the Food Truck Rally in Niles, with my grand daughter. The food selection seemed decent. I bought myself and grand daughter tri tip sliders.
    Everywhere you looked there were people with there dogs unleashed. One took huge crap in front of one of the food trucks. I decided to leave but a dog came up and snatched the tri tip slider out of my grand daughters hand.
    I will never again frequent the filthy, unsanitary, food trucks.
    I am also surprised at some of the dog owners in Niles….

  23. Fremont is on the road to ruin. The Baconistas are starting to run a mock! Strip malls, food trucks, tapioca, yogurt and all you can eat buffets as far as the eye can see. This my friends is what you get when you let a vocal minority wag the dog!

  24. #23 –
    Agreed that these issues need coverage – just saying that this is a very complex story and I feel that the Argus will be on it. There is a hearing on the 25th…attend and make your voices heard.

  25. #27 I hope so Dan, it needs to be explained to the residents of the Tri City area.
    Fremont Planning Commission and the Fremont City Council is trying to poison us, by allowing Toxaphine to be dumped into the Dumbarton Quarry. This will poison and pollute the the water table….. WHY ????

  26. I just want to take a moment to thank all the dogs in Niles for doing some good work at the Niles food truck event. They certainly ‘impacted’ the right people. Let’s celebrate their talents and clever instinct at the Niles Dog Show, being held at the 3rd Street park this Saturday.

  27. Speaking of the dog show I really hope Vinnie Bacon will be showing off his very expensive (2K) mutt at this years event. Hope to see you all there.

  28. #28 Toxaphene will not be put into the quarry it is banned in the United States.

  29. Worble, You are right it was banned in 1980, but the ground where they want to build the homes have a very high level of Toxaphene?
    They have tried several methods to get rid of it without much luck. This nasty stuff just does not go away…

    What is Toxaphene?

    Toxaphene is an insecticide which is usually found as a solid or gas. From 1947 to 1980 toxaphene was primarily used in the southern United States on cotton crops. Widespread use of toxaphene has been banned in the United States due to its harmful effects on us. Toxaphene is a persistent, bioacculumative, and toxic (PBT) pollutant targeted by EPA.

  30. They should be fined $1,000/day that they are late with the opening of that regional park. The whole “lake” idea was dumb to begin with. What should have been done is what is always done in a situation like this: Fill it with clean soil. A construction company as large as DeSilva/Gates should have no problem coming up with that clean soil. Even if they have to truck it in from across the country. DeSilva/Gates didn’t HAVE to buy the old mining and asphalt plant business. They did that to save a penny. Now it’s costing them a dollar. And more should be stacked on top of that. That “park” is about 10 years late opening by now…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *