The Conservancy finally released the Hearing Agenda and Final Environmental Impact Report for the River West Fresno, Eaton Trail Extension Project, and it's a stunner. Until yesterday, we understood that the Board was meeting on November 15th for a public hearing, and would be certifying the Final EIR on December 13th. Instead, the agenda includes the options for the Board to approve the proposed project with no access from Fresno, or approve it with Alternative 5b - the imagined future access point on other people's land.
Just to be clear, there is only one public road that currently reaches the project site. It's called Riverview Drive, and it's evaluated as Alternative 1 in the EIR. If the Conservancy Board is serious about providing access to the project site in Fresno, that's the only alternative that provides access today.
Please join us next week at the public hearing on the FEIR, and ask the Conservancy Board to direct staff to prepare a new resolution and findings to approve Alternative 1. It is important that the Conservancy Board hear from you. Please plan to attend each of these important meetings.
November 15, 2017 at 10:00 am - Fresno City Hall
December 13, 2017 at 10:00 am - Meeting location to be announced.
Over the past few months, we've also advocated for the approval of Alternative 5 - access on a gravel haul road at the end of Nees Avenue. The Alternative 5 access is linked by an easement to the access provided at Riverview Drive. The Alternative 5 access point is still an important access route, and we hope that it will be implemented in the future. But it doesn't actually provide access to the River West project site. It is separated from the project site by a landfill that is in private ownership. It's a great access point for the San Joaquin River, but doesn't actually allow someone to reach the River West property or the extension of the Eaton Trail.
That's why we're now focused solely on the approval of the Alternative 1 access point.
This is a critical moment in the history of the San Joaquin River Parkway. If the Board chooses to approve access to the site without Alternative 1, they have basically closed the door on Fresno access to a 500 acre river bottom property.
We - you and me - purchased this property back in 2003. The property was funded with public funds from several grant programs, and private funds from the Packard Foundation through the Resources Legacy Fund.
The property was purchased with legal access from two public roads - Riverview Drive, and Perrin Avenue off of Highway 41. Almost 15 years later, some of our neighbors are trying to prevent you and me from driving on a public road to public land.
Don't let them get away with this. Join us at the meeting next Wednesday and ask the Conservancy Board to approve Alternative 1.
Thank you for your support of the long-term effort to create the San Joaquin River Parkway.