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June 5, 2018 > Letter to the Editor: Ramirez Farm and Peterson Farmhouse complex

Letter to the Editor: Ramirez Farm and Peterson Farmhouse complex

Adjacent to Quarry Lakes Regional Park bordering Fremont and Union City is a 35-acre Caltrans property. Caltrans is leasing this surplus public land to private parties. This site hosts a national cultural asset; the oldest farmhouse in Washington Township in Fremont and Union City, Ramirez Farm which grows pesticide-free produce, a horse ranch and old Alameda Creek.

County Supervisor Valle and the City of Union City Council desire to change the Ramirez Farm to be part of a 3-mile, 4-lane roadway connector flanked by a small park and medium density housing. Residents there will likely travel to jobs on the Peninsula to pay for this East Bay expensive housing. More traffic and a 4-lane roadway lead to decreased property values, noise, no character and sense of place. Another housing tract and road without much vision - a road planned after World War II in the 1950Õs, as a State highway. Why not preserve this open space gateway to keep this area as Union CityÕs potential parklands?

The $300 million East West connector will generate over 50,000 daily vehicle trips starting from FremontÕs Interstate 880 at Decoto Road to pass through Ramirez Farm open space and then to Mission Boulevard at 7th Street in Union City. County Supervisor Valle asked for $125 million in Measure BB funds to supplement the $300 million East West Connector project which is woefully underfunded and is now asking Union City taxpayers, you, the residents to allow the City to manage the design and construction. Non-profits, the Sierra Club and Greenbelt Alliance noted this is a betrayal of voter trust. Save Our Hills is questioning how a small suburban residential town can manage a project of this magnitude and what economic benefits it will provide. Valle is convinced this connector will be supported by Measure BB voters and the City of Union City can manage all the risks from groundwater contamination to project delays. Officials like him, see a potential for $300 million of our tax dollars to invest and to build this connector. LetÕs imagine what $300 million could do to improve Union City and quality of life for residents.

Today, our only local grown produce farm, oldest farmhouse complex and Old Alameda Creek as a priority conservation area and can be used as a future parkÐ it is on public land!

The City of Union City is in the process of making this area into a Priority Development Area. Traveling to jobs on the Peninsula to pay for expensive housing in the east bay is not sustainable. Should over 400 homes be placed at this site due to recent rezoning, current residents in Union City and Fremont will not be allowed to use this property any longer as it is today Ð a farm and open space.

Save Ramirez Farm and historic Peterson Farmhouse Complex and Old Alameda Creek as community space. This land is owned by Caltrans. It can be sold at open space prices to public entities after Union City rezones the land back to open spaceÑSubstantially less than $300 million.

This is an opportunity of a lifetime to mitigate agricultural lands that are disappearing due to highway development within the County. LetÕs work with the East Bay Regional Park District, City of Fremont, Sunol, and Union City and other interested agencies that want to save open space. Once this happens, we can create a park for future generations.

Higher taxes to maintain roads, higher taxes to provide expensive police and fire services and growing deficits combined with a 77-acre park deficit due to over development is a Union City community loss. We need to rethink open space and parks as an economic driver for year-round recreation, improved quality of life. LetÕs rethink the East West Connector to make room for places so we can live, work, play in town.

Please join us in creating community and saving and conserving great places.

Elizabeth Ames
Save Our Hills Chairperson and Union City Resident

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