Golden Gate Fields donates land for Bay Trail

Horse racing venue Golden Gate Fields has agreed to donate a 4.88-acre easement of prime waterfront property in Albany and Berkeley for the San Francisco Bay Trail, East Bay Regional Park District officials said today.

Park district officials said the donated property will provide a key link to the existing Bay Trail by giving the public easy, safe and secure access to the current trail.

Park district board member Whitney Dotson, whose district includes Albany, said in a statement:

“This is a boon for bicyclists, joggers, bird watchers and thousands of others who enjoy the Bay Trail. … We are very grateful to Golden Gate Fields and their parent company, the Stronach Group, for this gift which will benefit generations of Bay Area residents.”

The East Bay Regional Park District’s board will accept the donation at its meeting on June 7.

Construction is expected in several years, after the district completes design and required permitting for a 20-foot-wide bicycle and pedestrian path, the district said.

The San Francisco Bay Trail is a paved path that will eventually encircle San Francisco and San Pablo bays.

Of the trail’s planned 500 miles, 345 miles are in place, but key gaps remain.

The stretch of land behind Golden Gate Fields, from Gilman Street in Berkeley to Albany Beach, provides spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the San Francisco Bay and Mt. Tamalpais.

Keith Brackpool, the chairman of Golden Gate Fields, said:

“The Stronach Group is pleased to make this donation on behalf of Golden Gate Fields. We look forward to continuing our strong working relationship with the park district to refine the future use and enhancement of our property.”

In addition to the trail donation, the park district will also acquire about 2.88 acres from Golden Gate Fields. About one-third of that property, which is adjacent to Albany Beach, has been designated for sand dune and wetland habitat restoration and improvements for recreational and public access.

Golden Gate Fields is the only remaining full-time racetrack operating in the Bay Area.