Please join us for the first 2019 San Joaquin River Conservancy Board meeting this Wednesday, January 9, 10:30 am at Fresno City Hall, in the Council Chambers.

In December 2017, the San Joaquin River Conservancy Board approved the proposed Fresno River West Lewis S. Eaton Trail Extension Project with the addition of an access point known as Alternative 5b located near Palm and Nees. The Board's approval of the project included a 1-year timeframe in which 5b proponents must meet five milestones to demonstrate the feasibility of this alternative.

The River Parkway Trust opposes this alternative because it destroys Spano Park, requires the complete re-engineering of the river bluff, and eliminates approximately 20 mature Western Sycamore trees. Alternative 5b has a hefty price tag and no obvious operator, but was approved in order to avoid using the existing public road that provides access to this public land.

The one-year timeline is up, and now the Conservancy Board must evaluate whether the 5b alternative is truly a viable project. At the meeting on Wednesday, the Board will evaluate whether the 5b proponents have met the following milestones:

  1. The San Joaquin River Access Corporation (SJRAC) must close escrow on the 11-acre parcel by 12/31/2018. This parcel will be developed into a parking lot as part of the Alternative 5b access location.
  2. Because the 11-acre parcel was the site of a Class III landfill, the SJRAC must have a post-closure land use plan approved by the County of Fresno Environmental Health Division and the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Board. The land use plan identifies the initial development and ongoing maintenance requirements if the property is developed. The SJRAC would be responsible for any development or ongoing maintenance on the property.
  3. The 5b proponents must receive approval from the Fresno City Planning Commission for exceptions/variances to the Bluff Protection Overlay District and City of Fresno Tree Removal Ordinances.
  4. The SJRAC must address Conservancy concerns with the proposed easement between Mr. Stan Spano the current owner of the 11-acre landfill parcel and the SJRAC. As part of the acquisition deal, Mr. Spano has asked for an easement on the property that would give him a great deal of control over what development and access is allowed on the property. Mr. Spano's stated interest is to protect the viewshed of the bluff top property he plans to develop in the future.
  5. The SJRAC must provide a public access easement for the property. When the Conservancy Board approved the project in 2017, there was discussion that the Conservancy may take ownership of the 11-acre property where the 5b parking lot is planned. In September 2018, the Conservancy Board voted to discontinue investigations into the State acquiring the parcel. In order to ensure that public access to the parcel is protected, the Conservancy is now requiring a permanent public access agreement.

Please join us at the meeting to hear the update on progress towards reaching these milestones and provide your input to the board.

Click here to review the Conservancy meeting board packet.
Click here for an overview of the history of the Fresno River West Lewis S. Eaton Trail Extension Project.