Jeffrey Leatherman, a California State University, Chico, graduate in Recreation Administration, has been named Director of the 50,000 acre Sacramento County Regional Parks system. The County Board of Supervisors approved his appointment, effective Feb. 12, to succeed Janet R. Baker who retired July 1, 2011.
Leatherman comes from serving as general manager of the Valley-Wide Recreation and Park District in San Jacinto, Riverside County, where he managed a $16 million budget, 30 full-time staff and more than 200 part-time and contract staff. He managed 1,200 acres of active parks and 70 acres of open space.
Recreation and Park Commission member Robert Bastion, said he is “extremely happy that we do have a new director for Regional Parks and that we are moving ahead. As a Regional Parks commissioner, I am looking forward to working with the Regional Parks team in a positive manner to work out some of the challenges we are facing.”
The new director grew up in Truckee; he is married and has three children.
Dedication of the Fair Oaks Bluff Donor Plaza at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 29 will celebrate anew a successful, 14-year campaign by citizens groups and public and private entities to preserve a 4.5 acre natural area 100 feet above the American River.
The Plaza, designed by local artist Hugh Gorman, is paved with engraved bricks recognizing donors who contributed to the $1.2 million price of the land. A Bluff Benefactor Monument embedded in a river rock wall recognizes major donors. There's a seating area and drinking fountain for visitors and their canine companions.
Multi-color interpretive panels across Bridge Street from the Plaza tell how the Bluff was preserved, its natural history, First People, geology, the American River, and City of Fair Oaks History. Sponsors of the dedication planned to request a special permit to allow parking on Bridge Street that day.
Origins of the effort to protect the Bluff go back to the late 19th century when planners included it in a public open space called "Riverside Park" stretching for almost a mile in Fair Oaks. Over the years most of the area evolved into private ownership as homes appeared on the Bluff, leaving a 600-foot long strip with access to Bridge street via a steep narrow trail.
Since the 1970s, control of the undeveloped area was subject to disputes, even litigation over title and county easements. All the while, the area was and remains a popular gathering place for nature lovers, photographers, painters and those who simply wish to enjoy the panoramic view of the Sierra to the East and Mount Diablo in the San Francisco Bay Area on a clear day. A large blue oak at the edge of the Bluff is a popular local landmark.
Citizens became increasingly concerned that developers would take over the entire Bluff and joined forces with other American River Parkway protector groups in 1998 in an organization called "Friends of the Fair Oaks Bluff." Issues of ownership and easement were defined and argued at meetings and hearing and eventually the development group won clearance to sell the land as three residential lots for $1.2 million.
That was the signal for one of the Bluff's neighbors, Tracy Martin Shearer, a young wife and mother who had played on the Bluff as a child, to found Citizens to Save the Bluffs (CSB) in 2000 to spearhead a fundraising drive to purchase and savethe Bluff as open space.
The next four years were marked by a "Perils of Pauline" series of donations, pledges, deadlines, and extensions of deadlines. Major contributors were Raley Foundation, the Fair Oaks Park District, and a Fair Oaks couple, Gerry and Karen Kamilos. By December, 2004, this textbook example of citizen involvement had succeeded and the American River Parkway was assured of 4.5 acres of Bluff land providing protected wildlife habitat and a tranquil oasis for human rest and relaxation.
Should three government agencies build a 200,000 square foot flood and water joint operations center (JOC) next to the American River Parkway just west of Lake Natoma?Sacramento County Supervisors, Save the American River Association (SARA), andresidents of nearby Rancho Cordova, Gold River,and Fair Oaks say no.
The Federal Bureau of Reclamation, the National Weather Service and the state Department ofWaterResources saythis is the preferred site ofamong three alternatives for a replacement of theovercrowded existingcenter on El Camino Avenue in Sacramento. The new center's 600 employees would manageweather and water emergencies.
But the Sacramento County Supervisors passed a resolutionopposing thesite as "adverse" to the "policies and purposes embodiedin the American River Parkway Plan."The supervisors support other proposed sites. The draft environmental impact statement lists alternatives at Mather Field and at Kilgore Road and Sunrise Boulevard.
Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan, who represents the area,said locating the center atthe Natoma sitewould result in noise and otherimpacts,and that it would conflict withthe parkway's master plan,which was endorsed bythe county and city of Sacramento and the state.
One reason the agencies prefer this site is becausethe Bureau of Reclamationowns the land for what would be a $140 million to $165 million campus.However, Save the American River Association marshals several reasons for urging itto be located elsewhere.
"This proposed facility, spread over 25 acres, and including a main building the size of a Walmart Super Center plus an 800-space parking lot, would severely detract from the visual beauty of the Parkway and violate the Parkway Plan in the process," SARA President Warren V.Truitt said. "In addition, why would the JOC, responsible for all northern California state and federal dam operations, locate their central operations center in a flood zone immediatelybelow a major dam?"
SARA alsoraises concerns over increased traffic congestion on Highway 50 and Hazel Avenue;the effect of extensive night lighting on adjacent neighborhoods and wildlife,and the loss ofwildlife habitat toparking lots and roads.
SARA urged concerned citizens to write letters objecting to the Natoma site to: Attention: Douglas Kleinsmith Bureau of Reclamation Office of Environmental Affairs 2800 Cottage Way Sacramento, CA 95825