Pogonip hearing delayed
A City Council hearing regarding a proposed new multi-use (equestrians, bicyclists, hikers) trail in the Pogonip will be delayed until February or later, according to Dannettee Shoemaker, Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Santa Cruz. The City had previously announced that the hearing would be held in late November.
As reported in the August issue of The Ventana, the proposed trail would extend from Golf Club Drive north to the U-Con trail. The new trail would require amendment of the Pogonip Master Plan which was adopted in 1998 after extensive debate regarding mixing bicyclists, equestrians and hikers on Pogonip trails. Currently the U-Con and Rincon Connector (leading to Henry Cowell State Park) Trails are the only trails where bikes are allowed in the park.
The postponement of action regarding the proposed multi-use trail provides an opportunity for the community to encourage the City Parks Department and the City Council to give a more in-depth consideration of the proposal, which was fast-tracked by the City in two weeks at the end of July.
The Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) prepared by the City on the trail project is considered by many critics to be an inadequate environmental review. Although the official window for comment on the document closed on November 5, the City has announced that recommendations may still be made to the City Parks Department and City Council (see below).
Critics of the proposal have urged the City to consider an alternative route by the rail line which parallels the Pogonip as a more effective route for discouraging illegal activities such as drug dealing within the southeastern edge of the Pogonip. The rail alternative, which would also provide a more direct bicycle connection to the U-Con trail from Highway 9 and the river levee, was not thoroughly investigated in the MND. Some have also called for a hikers-only trail as an alternative.
The MND also has revealed many serious environmental impacts from the proposed new trail through the Pogonip, all of which will require the further expertise of scientific consultants to (possibly) mitigate.
The Sierra Club opposes the new trail as currently proposed. To learn more, see the MND at www.cityofsantacruz.com/index.aspx?page=1543.
Patricia Matejcek (Sierra Club):
City Council members: