There's one fact about the City's Alternative 5b route that nobody has mentioned. It eliminates a remnant stand of mature Western Sycamore Trees.
From the top of the bluff at Spano Park, you can look down on the trees, but it's hard to fully appreciate their dimensions. Last Friday afternoon, a friend and I walked down to take a closer look. Here's a picture of the first two trees that would be eliminated by the City's Alternative 5b.
The EIR states that the elimination of these trees can be appropriately mitigated by replanting Sycamores on a 5-1 basis. The problem is that those newly planted trees will not really offer the same type of aesthetic or biological values for at least 60-70 years, if not longer. Is this an acceptable loss just so that we can avoid using Riverview Drive? I don't think so.
Just to be clear, there is only one public road that currently reaches the project site within the City of Fresno. 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 on Wednesday 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.