Cooley Landing Rehabilitation Project

From toxic to scenic, creating a new park on the Bay


City of East Palo Alto

East Palo Alto, CA


Residents of East Palo Alto today stroll along trails, throw Frisbees and enjoy picnics with the San Francisco Bay as a spectacular backdrop—all on a strip of land that was once a toxic waste dump. The rehabilitation of this picturesque area alone increased the city’s park space by 72 percent.

Cooley Landing is an 8.5-acre peninsula which was rehabilitated thanks to the hard work of community activists, the EPA, state and local government agencies and private organizations. Harris provided program management services for the $2 million project, maintaining meaningful involvement with community residents and stakeholders and carefully managing funding grants to help make this beautiful resource a reality.

Harris had to schedule and coordinate the construction work around the nesting habits of an endangered bird species, the clapper rail. All work had to cease during the nesting season and could not resume until the young birds left their nests. We mitigated the impacts that may have occurred due to the pause into the bid documents, so bidders knew work would take place in essentially two phases.

Core Elements

  • Contamination cleanup
  • Removal or containment of safety hazards
  • Value engineering
  • Trail construction
  • Monthly community meetings with a grassroots environmental community organization in East Palo Alto
  • Bi-monthly community meetings at City Hall
  • Frequent newsletters describing work progress to community members, project partners and regulatory agencies
  • Project website and social media
  • Communication with local press regarding milestones/accomplishments

Beyond the Blueprints

The Harris team was proactive in exploring innovative value-engineering opportunities for the City. Harris also worked with a local business owner to obtain clean import fill soil (used for engineered cap construction) free of charge. This resulted in a cost savings of approximately $35,000 for the City.