Council told Bike/Recreational Trail on track to completion

August 19, 2011
Santa Paula City Council

The Santa Paula Branch Line Bike/Recreational Trail is on track and on time for proposed completion, the City Council learned at the August 15 meeting.

Interim Public Works Director Brian Yanez distributed a map of the trail’s landscaping matrix of where new plantings would be done and “where the old stuff is going to be removed.” Depending on location, landscaping will be done on alternate sides of the trail and in some areas on both sides.

“I know you get a lot of questions out in the streets,” as well as phone calls asking about the landscaping plans as well as hear concerns over weedy and overgrown areas. Yanez said some areas would see new trees, plants and mulching after they are cleared of old growth with the exception of trees. 

“Many times landscapers have a vision for things” that Vice Mayor Bob Gonzales said might be attractive, but also can be hazardous to trail users. “Shrubs can be good cover for hooligans,” and Gonzales urged that Police Chief Steve MacKinnon be involved in considering such issues, as “I would rather we do it right the fist time.”

Rosemary is being used extensively in landscape design, said Yanez, and plans are to keep it well contained, to “keep visibility throughout the trail,” and he will confer with the chief.

Mayor Fred Robinson said he has other worries over trail user safety due to traffic concerns, especially at Palm Avenue, noting, “People have to stop there twice now.” 

Palm has been a source of concern, said Yanez, who agreed it is “not a good scenario.” The area is subject to extra street crossing safety measures and signal coordination, so when a “button is pushed everything will go red and nothing will be moving except the people walking across Palm Avenue.”

Yanez asked that residents keep in mind that the project has not yet been completed. “Just a reminder for citizens; this is a great project, a great way to get out and get exercise with your kids, but the trail is closed… we know if you build it they will come,” but Yanez said the recreational trail is closed while under construction and the public must stay off until it is completed.

Gonzales asked if the trail’s designation as a park would subject the path – which ranges from 12th Street to Peck Road – to the same rules and regulations.

City Manager Jaime Fontes said the same guidelines would apply, but new rules and procedures are now being crafted to determine such issues as user right of way. As a park the trail will be considered closed one hour past sunset, which Fontes said will allow the questioning of those using the trail after hours.

Councilman Jim Tovias noted he has two dogs and “It’s not fun, but we have to pick up after animals to keep it clean,” and Councilman Rick Cook asked about the availability of dog waste bags. Yanez said sponsors will be sought to create bag stations for pet owners, but Cook said he has already observed messes.

Trail safety measures will also include three emergency call boxes: “If someone falls or something happens,” Yanez said there will be boxes located at Cemetery Road/Main Street, 4th Street and near the Calavo facilities to summon aid. 

Construction should be completed by the end of August and landscaping will then start. “Mill Plaza is coming out great,” with Yanez noting brickwork is completed at a location considered a trail “focal point,” the dry creek and bridge almost done and informational signage ready to be installed.

The trail, said Robinson, “Will be a magnificent addition to our city.”

The approximately $4.2 million project, in the planning stages for years, was grant funded except for a 10 percent match from the city. 

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