For an enhanced digital experience, read this story in the ezine.
After dedicating 47 years to East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) in Oakland, California — including 10 years as general manager — Robert Doyle has retired, leaving many legacies that will benefit the lives of East Bay residents.
“Parks do their best when they have a great leader, and the East Bay has had incredible leadership with Bob Doyle,” says Former Director of National Park Service Jonathan Jarvis, who served under President Barack Obama. “Bob is not only a visionary, but someone who can deliver on that vision at the same time, a rare quality.”
During his tenure with EBRPD, Doyle more than doubled the size of the park district in acreage, parks and trails. Several of his other significant accomplishments include garnering approval for three former military bases closed during the Clinton administration to be redeveloped into the future with publicly accessible regional parklands; fighting a 20-year battle for environmental justice along the Richmond, California, shoreline, including the Dotson Family Marsh that offers access along the bay adjacent to a predominantly Black community near Point Pinole; closing gaps incrementally along the San Francisco Bay Trail and creating the park district’s mostly contiguous Bay Trail along the 55 miles of East Bay urban shoreline; and increasing the park district’s connection with multicultural communities through innovative health initiatives, educational programming and a record 10-year sustainable revenue growth of the Regional Parks Foundation, the private fundraising nonprofit that improves regional park access for underserved communities and communities of color.
“The landscape of the East Bay would be significantly different if it were not for Bob Doyle,” says former Park District General Manager Pat O’Brien. “Not only did he help create parks and preserve properties and areas for wildlife, but he inspired other people, who took up the mantle to advocate for open space, for legislative priorities within the district, and to procure public access.”
Doyle was a co-leader in California’s first successful statewide park bond effort in 15 years for Proposition 68, generating $4 billion in per capita funding for every park agency in California. UnderDoyle’s leadership, the park district saw more support from the public than ever before with 85 percent voter approval for 2018’s Measure FF to provide additional revenues for parks. He has successfully advocated and helped the park district receive more than $1 billion in new revenue to pay for sorely needed capital development at parks and acquisition of parklands across Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
Doyle concluded his career at the Park District leading the agency through one of the most challenging times in its history: the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“COVID-19 has shown just how essential parks are to the community’s physical and mental health,” says Doyle. “The district overcame tremendous challenges to keep parks open and safe for the public when they needed them most. Our existing partnerships with the county health departments have been very effective in showing that parks are essential for health, not just recreation. I am extremely proud of how district staff answered the call and came to the public’s aid during this time.”