OAKLAND - The East Bay Regional Park District board of directors unanimously approved a land-use plan amendment for Miller Knox Park Tuesday. The board also vowed to fight Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad's stated intention of running diesel engines and railcars along the shoreline in the park from Point Richmond out to Ferry Point.
At a standing-room only meeting at EBRPD headquarters, more than a dozen members of the public spoke in favor of the land use plan - and against BNSF.
"They have not been good neighbors to Richmond," Jordan DeStaebler said of BNSF.
In late February, the Point Richmond Neighborhood Council voted unanimously to oppose the railroad's plans. PRNC OPPOSES.
Speaker after speaker spoke passionately about how important the park is to the community and that having diesel engines and railcars blocking public access to the water was simply unacceptable.
Several also spoke in favor of the section of the plan that calls for removal of abandoned tracks within the district's jurisdiction to allow for development of a section of the San Francisco Bay Trail between Keller Beach and Ferry Point
While no representatives of BNSF spoke at the meeting, EBRPD District Counsel Carol Victor said the district had just received a 17-page letter from the railroad's attorney's objecting to adoption of the plan.
District Board member Colin Coffey - a practicing attorney in Walnut Creek - said he thought the letter was "at best fantasy, at worst dishonest."
In an earlier letter to the board, BNSF's attorney L. John Nelson IV said expanding business operations required use of the tracks in Miller Knox Park.
BNSF's tracks along the shore at Miller Knox Park