On Tuesday, November 15, 2022, the East Bay Regional Park District Board of Directors unanimously voted to advance efforts to secure funding for development of the first public access point at the new Thurgood Marshall Regional Park – Home of the Port Chicago 50.
The Park District was awarded a $3 million direct appropriation in the California state budget, signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on June 30, 2022. The $3 million budget request was submitted by Assembly Member Timothy Grayson (D-Concord).
“We thank Assemblymember Tim Grayson for his work and leadership in securing these funds,” said Park District Director Beverly Lane, who has represented Concord on the Park District Board since 1994. “Assemblymember Grayson has supported this new regional park since he served on the Concord City Council.”
“The new staging area, along with a planned visitor center, will help connect the public with the park’s important human history and the natural history and outdoor recreational opportunities of the land,” added Lane. “Establishing public access to Thurgood Marshall Regional Park is a major priority for the Park District.”
Thurgood Marshall Regional Park is located at the site of the former Concord Naval Weapons Station. After 20 years of community support and advocacy, the Navy formally granted over 2,600 acres of land to the Park District in 2019. The District subsequently renamed the area to honor former U.S. Supreme Court Justice and renowned civil rights advocate Thurgood Marshall and the Black sailors, known as the Port Chicago 50, who he supported in a case that inspired desegregation of the U.S. Navy. The park currently has no public access.
“It is an honor to play a part in establishing the first formal public access to Thurgood Marshall Regional Park – Home of the Port Chicago 50. The new park, along with a planned visitor center, will integrate the human history of the site, along with the natural history and outdoor recreational opportunities of the land,” said Assemblymember Tim Grayson. “Importantly, we have an obligation to elevate the history of the Port Chicago 50, the fifty African American sailors whose bravery in standing up for civil and workers’ rights led to the desegregation of the military. As the legislature stated by unanimously enacting SJR15, the fifty innocent sailors were unjustly punished for drawing attention to racial inequities in the military, and should be fully exonerated to restore honor to their legacies.”
The site is also home to decades-old bunkers, which represent the area’s past. The park will provide outdoor recreation activities, including hiking and biking, as well as visitor amenities such as restrooms, bike racks, and educational panels highlighting the park’s important history.
The Park District hopes to open the new staging area in 2025.
The East Bay Regional Park District is the largest regional park system in the nation, comprising 73 parks, 55 miles of shoreline, and over 1,300 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and environmental education. The Park District receives more than 25 million visits annually throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties in the San Francisco Bay Area.