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About. . . The Alhambra Hills

Maybe, just maybe, the emerald wonderland in the middle of Martinez can bring the two areas of our city together.

Here's a thought from my morning walk — we are a city divided, have been for some time. Divided by ideology, culture, income, all kinds of things.

We are also a city divided by geography. There is old-town Martinez, generally delineated as north of the Santa Fe railroad trestle, though old town also extends, it could be argued, to those homes just to the south. Anyway, as you head south, you drive right past the Alhambra Hills, smack dab in what one would call the new Martinez. That is the part of the population that does not relate much to the downtown, to the issues there or the folks. South Martinez does its shopping and socializing in other places — Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek, Concord. And a lot of kids in the south go to schools in the Mount Diablo School District, which drives us further apart. How to bring these two areas together has been a challenge for many years.

And now there is a potential answer. The Alhambra Hills.

Yes, the Alhambra Highlands have been on the table for decades, and the project has come as no surprise to many. Though two-thirds of the proposed 300 acres has been set aside for open space, the thought of losing up to 625 mostly old-growth oaks and nearly 80 acres of scenic ridgelines is hard to bear. Still, the preservation group that met Sunday was composed mostly of old town folks. There were a few people from the south, but not that many.

It would seem to me that the preservation of these hills would benefit everyone in the city. And the owner is, according to an article in the Martinez News Gazette, willing to consider selling the property for open space. So there is no inherent controversy. No one is pounding on the table, demanding the right to build homes. The owner just wants a fair return on investment, as is reasonable. The surrounding neighborhoods would breathe a lot easier knowing that 112 homes are not going up above and around them, on ground that already is unstable. And the citizens of Martinez would have generations of enjoyment of some of the most beautiful land around, including oak forests and eye-popping views.

If the folks from the north of town could find a way to reach out and involve the folks in the southern part, to organize and raise funds and find a way to purchase those hills for open space, a lot more could blossom than just open space. Such an endeavor, if the relationship could be nourished, would result in any number of changes for the city, all for the better. It certainly would create a seismic shift in the political landscape because the two sides of the city no longer could be played against each other. Perhaps folks in the south could be convinced to check out the downtown and its many amenities. A new identity could emerge from such a movement — a stronger and richer identity, as people grew to know and appreciate each other and the place they all call home.

The Alhambra Hills are a very special piece of real estate, and if beauty exists on the planet, it certainly exists up there. But the hills could have more than just exterior beauty if the movement to preserve them can bring a divided city together. That's beauty on a much larger scale.

Dick Duncan April 06, 2011 at 03:12 PM
I second that John M, the Patch is a much overdue "connection" for this troubled community. The gift that Caroompas brings is that he has been around and understands the intricacies of our challenges while providing fresh thinking from a positive perspective. He brings the continuity of learning from our past mistakes while moving the thought process forward with new ideas. This is just what is needed to break the vicious cycle of trying to "reinvent the wheel" by going through the same process over and over and getting nowhere. Who knows, we just may "get the wheels back on the wagon" and move on down the road!
Linda Meza April 06, 2011 at 04:00 PM
Dick, I love you but don't forget the conversation we're having now is due to a reporter of our legacy newspaper asking a simple question, "would you consider selling?" That was out of the box thinking with a positive fresh perspective. Hulet Hornbeck made sure to remind folks who attended Sunday's meeting that should this deal become reality it will be due in large part to Greta Mart of the Martinez News-Gazette asking that simple question and opening the door for constructive dialogue.
Cooki Telles April 06, 2011 at 04:29 PM
Let's stay focused-----there is one purpose here to preserve the ridge line and anything else that happens is welcome! This development has been on the back burner for decades-----this is our opportunity to get it off the stove. My wish is for all to realize the beauty when driving along the whole length of Alhambra Ave. It truly is like travelling in the middle of a living oil landscape painting. It is a healthy thing!
Jamie Fox January 24, 2013 at 04:18 AM
Greta Mart no doubt changed my life and perspective on the Alhambra Hills with her investigative reporting for the Martinez Gazette. Has anyone inquired why she was let go, or written letters of support? In my opinion, she was an amazing reporter, she worked really hard, and if the Alhambra Hills are ever saved, the East Bay owes here a great debt of gratitude.
Chris J Kapsalis January 24, 2013 at 12:16 PM
I am friends with Greta so I am bias and was very sad to see her go. She worked hard and I miss her reporting. But even still I am not taking sides and I do not know exactly what happened. She would nto say exactly what happened ( from her side) nor would the new editor, which whom I also like. I asked Greta if there was anything we could do ( me and my wife are both friends with her and would back her up if she asked ) and she said no it's ok, and never bad mouthed anyone and I think showed a lot of class, as did the new editor as to what did or did not happen. I do thank her for all her hard work and it is sad ( to many people who were fans of her reporting ) and I would just leave it at that. Things change, things happen, it is an intense work place with dead lines and different opinions on what may have happened. I really wish her well and I will not even assume to know what happened. I do know a little of what happened and some hear say I should say , but it did not include any wish on her part to not support our local paper. I should not speak for her though. Just saying what I heard and know. We do miss her. Nothing that happened should diminish her work for the years she worked as the main writer for the Gazette. I like to think she is out there writing a book that will be on the best seller list someday soon. Just a hunch.

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