Residents in Bay Point Advocate to Reopen a Local Park Closed 20 Years Ago

Nichole Orsonio, 45, visits the overgrown lot where Pacifica Park used to be. (All photos by Hiram Alejandro Durán for El Tímpano / CatchLight Local / Report for America corps member)

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Nichole Orsonio, 45-year-old lifelong resident of Shore Acres, stands in front of the sprawling and overgrown greenery that was once a neighborhood park. She remembers what it looked like when she was a child: Crisp green lawn, a trickling creek running through the middle, a simple playground and a long metal slide that ran down the tall hill where she raced her siblings. Today, Pacifica Park is abandoned, unkept and littered with trash. It has been closed for 20 years.

Shore Acres is part of the unincorporated Bay Point, a predominantly Latino community where the median household income is about 35% lower than the county average. The nearest park is a mile away, and residents have turned to school grounds during off hours or trespassing onto the now fenced-off Pacifica Park for outdoor space.

After two decades with a shuttered public park, Shore Acres residents have started taking action. A petition appeared in December 2023 on and now has about 200 signatures. It asks the local school district, which owns the park lands, to either come up with an agreement for shared use of the school grounds outside of school hours, or to work with the local park district to reopen Pacifica Park. The Ambrose Park District oversees parks in Bay Point along with their facilities and programs.


Eduardo Torres is an Ambrose Park District Board Member and Northern California Regional Coordinator for Tenants Together, a statewide coalition dedicated to protecting tenant rights and advocating for affordable housing. He agreed to help residents through the process of reopening a public green space in Shore Acres.

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The Mount Diablo Unified School District owns the abandoned park, which is located behind Riverview Middle School. The school district was leasing Pacifica Park to the Ambrose Park District for only a dollar a year until 2005, when the park district decided to stop leasing the space and close the park because of increased gang violence and vandalism, recalls Debra Mason, a board member of the Mount Diablo Unified School Board and a lifetime Shore Acres resident.


Torres has asked the Mount Diablo Unified School District about reopening Pacific Park. The next step is for the school district to conduct land assessments to see if it is still usable for recreation, he says. If it is usable, the residents can approach the Ambrose Park District Board about redeveloping the land as a park again.


“We would drive by it, and it looked like nobody was taking care of it. It just kept getting worse and worse every time,” Orsonio says. “It was just broken concrete, a lump of nothing.”

The closest park to Shore Acres is Lynbrook Community Park, one of the largest in Bay Point, where locals come for soccer practice, the recently updated playground, and bike rides. The park can get incredibly crowded, nearby residents say.


Maria Vasquez, a 68-year-old Bay Point resident, lives within a few blocks of Lynbrook and frequents with her young granddaughter. She’s noticed how many of the children who play at Lynbrook come from Shore Acres.

“Families from many different neighborhoods come to this park, and children of all ages,” Vasquez says in Spanish.

Fernando Mendoza, 45-year-old Bay Point resident, is also frustrated by the crowding at Lynbrook. He hopes Pacifica Park can reopen. “This community is too big, and it needs it,” Mendoza says in Spanish.

Oscar Pamay, 48, lives in Shore Acres and visits the park with his two children multiple times a week. His son practices soccer most days at the park during soccer season. As he watches his daughter roll around on her pink scooter, he talks about how important parks like this are to his family.

“I live in a small space with my two children and my wife, so I enjoy being able to take my daughter away from her tablet to run around outside,” Pamay says.

This article was originally published by El Timpano on May 10. It has been republished with permission.

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