LIVERMORE -- Acknowledging neighborhood unhappiness with its plans, Ironwood Apartments owners have agreed to revise their plans for a 52-unit expansion.

The project would have eliminated an unofficial "park" on the land that has been used by area residents for decades.

After a Thursday meeting with city planning officials and a group of about 80 neighbors opposed to the project, owners said they will rethink their plans.

"The plan (now) is to amend the application," said Jeff Ratto, vice president of San Mateo-based Acacia Capital Corp. "We will go back to the project and look long and hard at what we've heard here tonight."

More than 20 attendees, many part of a group calling themselves "Save Ironwood," spoke out against the addition of four new three-story buildings to the 240-unit apartment complex at Charlotte Way and East Avenue. They said they fear it would eliminate much of a three-acre plot of open space they consider a park, worsen neighborhood traffic and crime, and overburden Arroyo Seco Elementary School.

Donald Dowdle, who lives on nearby Martha Street and heads Save Ironwood, said he wasn't satisfied with the offer by Acacia for a compromise, and said he has collected more than 500 signatures on a petition against any expansion to the complex.

"They've provided no positive impacts to the community," Dowdle said of the property owner. "If they're building more units on the green space, then there's no deal."


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Dowdle said he and others in the group plan to address the City Council on Feb. 11.

As it's currently drawn up, the Ironwood expansion would eliminate nearly two-thirds of a grassy area neighborhood families and children use to play soccer, fly kites and picnic. As part of the proposal, Acacia is also seeking a rezoning to higher-density housing.

Livermore Area Recreation and Park District board director Steve Goodman, a proponent of open space, attended the meeting and spoke against the project.

"I agree that there's a need for more rental housing in Livermore, but not at the expense of this neighborhood or these kids," Goodman said.

Other speakers worried about the impact added vehicles would have on the safety of children who walk to and from the open space to Arroyo Seco Elementary.

Arroyo Seco third-grade teacher Patricia Baker told planning officials if they approved the project, it would add to the overcrowding problem the school already experiences.

"We have a great school, and you're going to ruin it if you put any more kids in there," she said. "It's a problem; don't do it."

Livermore planning manager Paul Spence said if Acacia does decide to make changes to its current proposal, a new plan would have to be resubmitted, and the process would start all over again.

On the defense for much of the meeting, Ratto said the project would add nearly 150 parking spaces to address traffic problems along Norma Way. Adding more units to Ironwood would provide needed rental housing, he said, and add $3 million to the community.

Ratto said Acacia Capital still intends to improve the Ironwood complex, and is willing to discuss changes to the current plan with residents.

"We don't want to do anything to jeopardize our standing in the community. We want our residents to be happy," Ratto said. "We don't need to rush this."

Follow Jeremy Thomas at Twitter.com/jet_bang.