Thanks for making Madera happen

The El Cerrito Open Space Campaign heartily wishes to thank all of our generous donors to the campaign to purchase the Madera Open Space, along with all of the volunteers who made this year-long effort succeed.

Thanks to you, we raised $103,000 towards the $475,000 purchase price of the 8-acre site, with forest, meadow and creeks. That and a $250,000 federal grant greatly reduced the amount of park and open space funds the city had to spend from its pockets. That means more of those funds can go to other park purposes.

The campaign was run by Trail Trekkers, the El Cerrito High School Mountain Bike Team, and friends of Five Creeks

While we appreciate anyone who donated any amount of money – there was no requirement to do that – I’d like to call out a few special donations that stick in my mind:

Al Miller, the very first donor, even before the “official” campaign began. The El Cerrito Rotary Club – whose donation put us over our $100,000 goal. The Zirinsky Family, our biggest donor by far at $25,000, who were introduced to our campaign by our good friends and collaborators at Trust for Public Land.

Gary Hill, Robert Studdiford, and all the other donors involved with mountain biking. Chris and Martie Conner, who put up a successful challenge grant. Mark Figone, president of East Bay Sanitary Co. and of the Chamber of Commerce, who not only donated but put the campaign in touch with the city’s business community.

The sheer number of donors who contributed to the campaign speaks to the commitment of people in El Cerrito and surrounding communities to preserving open space.

— Dave Weinstein, president, El Cerrito Trail Trekkers


The full list of donors is here.


Our thanks also go to:

Keeping things organized:
Gary Hill, EC Open Space Campaign chairman and coach of the Mountain Bike Team – who got the ball rolling by inquiring whether the property just might be for sale!
Jenny Hammer – for coming up with the notion of asking Trust for Public Land to help – and inviting them to do so.
Dave Weinstein, vice chair, unafraid to call people at dinner time and ask for donations.
Members of the Open Space Committee, Ralph Bonielo, Robert Studdiford, Annette Fuentes, Steve Zavetoski, George Gager, Pam Austin, Vickie Nolan, Howdy Goudey, Maryanne Pomegranate.
Brendan Moriarty, project manager for Trust for Public Land who handled property negotiations and much else. Kate Martin from Trust for Public Land provided valuable fundraising advice.
Pam Austin, the banker of the campaign, who ran our treasury!
The Trail Trekker board, Maryanne Pomegranate, Jenny Hammer, Mark Miner, Pam Austin, Tom Gehling, and Yvonne Steffen, Tim Aaronson and Carol Langhauser in the early days, for hours of planning and – more importantly — follow through.
Susan Schwartz and other members of Friends of Five Creeks for backing the campaign with funds, volunteer time, intelligence, and good cheer.
The Environmental Quality Committee for consistently voting for acquisition of open space, for putting on events to support the effort, for strategizing and for working at events and for so much more.
The Parks & Recreation Commission for supporting this effort through official votes, donations, volunteering, and more. The Arts & Culture Committee for supporting Music for Madera.
Our dedicated city staff, including Melanie Mintz, Garth Schultz, Emily Alter, Suzanne Iarla, Maria Sanders, Lisa Malek-Zadeh, Chris Jones, Bill Driscoll, and city manager Scott Hanin.
Members of the City Council, both present and immediately past, for their strong support throughout, Mayor Mark Friedman, Janet Abelson, Gabe Quinto, Jan Bridges, Rebecca Benassini. Jan Bridges deserves special thanks for challenging the campaign to up its goal to $100,00!

Tom Gehling for running the campaign’s website for most of the campaign, and Tim Aaronson for starting it.
Gary Hill for the great photo of his son in the Madera Open Space; it became the campaign’s “image” when used on a flyer designed by Trust for Public Land.
Dave Weinstein for writing dozens of press releases, newsletter blurbs and the like.
Chamber of Commerce manager Mark Scott for getting the word out along with Marty Kaliski of Marty’s Motors and the Chamber board.
Our local librarian Liz Ruhland who worked with Tom Gehling on a library display about the Madera Open Space
David Lingren and Ilana Schatz for facilitating an article about Trekkers in the magazine Bay Nature.
The Environmental Quality Committee for spreading the word during the El Cerrito July 4 Celebration. Corey Mason and World One Radio for a nifty radio spot!
Gary Hill and the El Cerrito Mountain Bike Team for spreading the word during Solano Stroll.
Dave Weinstein’s dog Patchie, whose image in newspaper articles on the campaign caught many an eye.

Telling friends and colleagues:
Melissa Eizenberg for introducing the campaign to many of our city’s real estate professionals.
Denise Sangster for spreading the word to the group “Arlington Friends”
Paul Steurwald for e-mailing friends and neighbors to support the campaign.

Ken and Leslie Salonen for hosting our fabulous kick-off event in their home overlooking the Madera Open Space.
Our hike leaders through the Madera Open Space: Tom Gehling, Maryanne Pomegranate, Jenny Hammer, Dave Weinstein. Many donors were inspired by these hikes.
Our hike leaders and speakers during the Hillside Festival: Rich Bartke and Tom Panas of the El Cerrito Historical Society, and the Historical Society as a whole; Janet Gawthorp and the California Native Plant Society; author Richard Schwartz; the Golden Gate Audubon Society and its members Tara McIntire and Anne Ardillo; Madera Elementary School volunteers and PTA; Jim McKissock; Susan Schwartz; plus many volunteers from the Mountain Bike Club, Trekkers and Five Creeks.
We would also like to thanks the National Park Service and NPS representative Stephen Bowes for helping develop our map to all of El Cerrito’s trails.
Vickie Nolan who organized auction items and food at the Music for Madera Festival, with Donna Houser. Susan Johnson, George Gager, Mary Barkey, Dan Smith, and many other Music for Madera volunteers!
Mike Freeman for ensuring that our first ever music festival had perfect sound!
Howdy Goudey for putting on the ‘Rebels With a Cause’ screening at the Cerrito Theater. Rialto Cinemas Cerrito for hosting the screening. Vickie Nolan, Jenny Hammer, Ralph Boniello and Brendan Moriarity for assisting.
Gary Hill, the Mountain Bike Team, and Rialto Cinemas Cerrito for screening ‘Singletrack High.’
Renee Cheney-Cohen and Renata and Richard Hallock for inviting Dave Weinstein to discuss the campaign at the neighborhood “Soup Night” on Scenic Avenue.

Soliciting funds:
Dave Weinstein for organizing “calling parties.” Pam Austin and Maryanne Pomegranate for making donor calls.
Patrick Carney of San Francisco and Dan Smith of Benicia, out-of-towners committed to open space and brave enough to make donor calls.
Gary Hill and Robert Studdiford for fundraising in the biking community and much more.
Maryanne Pomegranate for calling on local businesses by going door to door to door. George Gager for outreach to businesses.
Environmental Quality committee members Sam Krueger, who reached out to the realty community, Natasha Benjamin, who made donor calls.
Craig “Bonzo” Bonner, an expert cold caller, for invaluable instruction and encouragement.

Restoring Madera Open Space:
Jim McKissock for leading efforts to restore native vegetation on the Madera Open Space, along with Tom Gehling, Mark Miner, Mike Eichenholtz and others.
Jenny Hammer and others in Trail Trekkers for improving trails on-site just enough to make them passable for our educational hikes.

Support and advice:
Keith Skinner of Berkeley Path Wanderers, and the group as a whole, for support, putting on a joint hike with Trekkers and much more.
Senator Loni Hancock, and Assembly member Nancy Skinner and Supervisor John Gioia for supporting efforts to get federal and state grants
Norman LaForce and the Sierra Club for publicity, advice, and support throughout the campaign

Thanking you, our donors:
Maryanne Pomegranate, Robin Mitchell and Gary Hill for handling the troublesome task of finding a site for our campaign sign acknowledging donors. Gary for building it, with donations from Design-a-Sign and Ashby Lumber. Gary for updating it.

Beautiful buttons:
And last, but surely the most aesthetic: Betty Buginas and her students at Madera Elementary School for creating those beautiful, and now collectable, Madera Open Space buttons!