Connecting Parks for Safe Recreation

Citrus Heights  |  Story and photos by Shaunna Boyd
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Dave Mitchell, district administrator for Sunrise Recreation and Park District, answers questions about how the Electric Greenway Trail Project will connect the parks in Citrus Heights.

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Many local residents attended an Open House for the Electric Greenway Trail Project, hosted by the City of Citrus Heights at the Sunrise Tech Center.

City Hosts Open House for Electric Greenway Trail Project

 

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - On January 8 at Sunrise Tech Center, the City of Citrus Heights hosted a well-attended Open House event for the Electric Greenway Trail Project. The proposed project is a 2.9-mile paved trail that will follow the existing Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) electric transmission corridor. Local residents were invited to attend the Open House to learn about the project, offer their input, and voice any concerns. Leslie Blomquist, senior civil engineer for the City of Citrus Heights, said, “Community comments and feedback are essential as we move forward.”

The project is a partnership between the City of Citrus Heights, SMUD, Sacramento County, San Juan Unified School District, Sunrise Recreation and Park District, and Orangevale Recreation and Park District.

The goal of the project is to highlight the natural beauty of the area while providing a safe, paved area for pedestrians and bicyclists. The trail will run between Sunrise Blvd. to the west and Wachtel Way to the east. It will connect many of the parks and nature area in Citrus Heights, including Arcade Creek Park Preserve, Tempo Community Park, Sundance Nature Area, Streng Avenue open space, Northwoods Park, C-Bar-C Park, Woodside Oaks Park, and Olivine Dr. open space.

The trail will also provide a safe route to school for students at Woodside K-8, and it will provide a shorter route to other area schools. Dan Allison, Safe Routes to School coordinator for the San Juan Unified School District, explained that currently “some students walk to school on streets without sidewalks. The trail will give students a safe, paved area to walk to school.”

Vice Mayor Jeff Slowey said, “I think it’s great that we’re using SMUD easements, which wouldn’t be used otherwise. And it’s a great partnership.” Slowey also noted the importance of considering the people who live near the project site: “We need to ensure their privacy.”

Eldon Pawson was a resident of Citrus Heights from 1968 until he moved to nearby Orangevale in 1980. He said, “I think it’s long overdue. All this area right along the power lines, we might as well use it. My only concern would be people using it as a campground…I’m not against homeless people, but I don’t want it in my backyard.”

Citrus Heights residents Ronna Safonov and John Thomas said they’re concerned because one area of the proposed trail would be located just 5 ft. from the back of their property. Thomas said, “We don’t want our private area to become accessible.” They are also worried that the project plans to pave over a floodplain behind their home, which they believe would exacerbate flooding in that area. The floodplain is a wildlife area featuring heritage oaks, and Safonov and Thomas do not want to see that area disturbed. Thomas said, “Apparently they can do whatever they want as long as they mitigate for it, but putting little trees in another area to replace those heritage oaks just isn’t the same.”

Safonov suggested that the engineers could re-route the trail rather than trying to re-engineer the floodplain area. “The floodplain has been there for 50 years, longer than the city.”

Jerry and Linda Lemon like the idea of the trail project, and Linda said “I’m 100% in.” She explained that riding her bike in the City currently requires her to pass through some areas where she doesn’t feel safe, and she believes the Electric Greenway Trail will create a safer environment for local recreation. “It will promote physical activity and family activity,” she said.

Jerry Lemon said, “I like that it connects parks together. You can go for a bike ride and stop to rest in a park.”

Sergeant James Evans of the Citrus Heights Police Department said that some residents are concerned that the trails will increase the transient population in the area or encourage illegal activity, but he explained that similar trail projects have not found that to be true. Evans said that many local residences already have hidden dirt trails behind their properties, and that open trails with wide paved areas, bright lighting, and lots of foot traffic will actually discourage criminal activity. And Officer James Garing said that the trails will be wide enough to allow access for police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks—so emergency services will be able to more quickly address any issues that might occur.

Kathilynn Carpenter with Sunrise MarketPlace said the trail will be “a nice amenity and will bring positive awareness to the City. It has great connectivity and will bring more footsteps to the district.”

Mayor Jeannie Bruins supports the project, saying, “I’m all for it…It will be a wonderful addition to the City.”

The project is still in the preliminary planning phases and environmental analysis is currently underway. Construction is expected to commence in spring of 2021 and be completed in 2022.