The San Tomas Aquino/Saratoga Creek Trail in Cupertino.
The Lawrence-Mitty Park and Trail project along Lawrence Expressway is moving forward in Cupertino and could expand the San Tomas Aquino/Saratoga Creek Trail, pictured here, after more than 20 years. Photo by Annalise Freimarck.

A new Cupertino park and trail expansion 20 years in the making is one step closer to construction, and advocates say it could create more equity across the city.

The Cupertino Planning Commission unanimously approved the Lawrence-Mitty Park and Trail project’s conceptual design last week. The roughly 7.8-acre, half-mile project could provide picnic and play areas and extend the San Tomas Aquino/Saratoga Creek Trail, with trails running along Lawrence Expressway. Traffic noise will be buffered by landscaping. The project will take about a year to complete once work begins.

Jennifer Shearin, chair of the city Parks and Recreation Commission and resident for 15 years who lives on the city’s east side, said the area has less amenities than other parts of the city.

“This is a great opportunity to add some vitally needed green space for the residents living on the east side of Cupertino,” she told San José Spotlight. “I think it would be a lovely addition to our places that people love for walking and biking and enjoying all of our park amenities.”

The project is expected to cost just over $8 million, paid for through developer fees from Apple Park, which opened in 2017. The city has already spent some of the money on the land purchase and annexation, and will use the rest to fund development and construction, city officials said.

The Cupertino City Council will analyze the design for final approval in July and work with various agencies to obtain permitting, including Caltrans and Valley Water. The construction timeline for the project is yet to be determined.

Cupertino first envisioned the neighborhood park in 2002, when it began considering the purchase and land annexation from San Jose. In 2020, the city purchased the land from the Santa Clara County Roads and Airports Department and in 2022, the city annexed the land and began work on a conceptual design.

Susan Michael, Cupertino capital improvement program manager, said the idea for the park stemmed from east side residents wanting more amenities spread throughout the city. She said she’s glad to see a tangible outcome after decades of hard work.

“I think that it just is screaming for life to be breathed back into it,” she told San José Spotlight. “It’s a bit of a social experiment to see how we can make use of this leftover space and to make it pleasing and enjoyable for the residents.”

The project also adds to the city’s park goals. In April, the city council unanimously approved a concept design for an overhaul of Memorial Park, including plans for eight pickleball courts.

Aaron Klinefelter, 48, has lived in the Rancho Rinconada neighborhood for four years and will live about half a mile from the new park, where he plans to take his dog, Orca.

“I would love to be able to take advantage of that additional walking space and outdoor space. That way I don’t have to cross over Lawrence Expressway,” he told San José Spotlight.

A gate with a no trespassing sign
The Lawrence-Mitty Park and Trail project will be paid for with developer fees from Apple Park. Photo by Annalise Freimarck.

There will be no designated parking lot due to the parameters of the space, but Seema Lindskog, planning commissioner and chair of Walk-Bike Cupertino, said it’s OK if it becomes more of a neighborhood park than a space people drive to. She said it’s a good start and hopes the trail will expand to reach Cupertino High School, giving students a safe place to walk and bike.

“It is an area that has been underserved, not because of lack of will, but really because there’s no open areas available,” she told San José Spotlight. “So the fact that we were able to annex this land from San Jose, and we’re now finally moving forward with developing it is really great.”

Contact Annalise Freimarck at [email protected] or follow @annalise_ellen on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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