Thank you to everyone that came out on November 15th to request access through Alternative 1. We triumphed that day thanks to the leadership of many Conservancy Board members that wanted to have more alternatives available for consideration.
Next week we believe the Conservancy Board will have the ability to approve the final River West project with either Alternative 1 or Alternative 5b. It's important that they hear from you, so please mark your calendars and plan to join us for the meeting.
Since the last Conservancy meeting, the California State Lands Commission took an official position on the River West Fresno project, approving SLC Executive Officer Jennifer Lucchesi's recommendation to support access through Alternative 1. You can read about that decision here: Candidate for Governor Supports Access to River.
Here's a quick review of why the River Parkway Trust supports the Alternative 1 access point on Riverview Drive:
- Riverview Drive is a public road that leads directly to the existing entrance gate for the River West Fresno site
- Riverview Drive is not a residential street - there are no houses or driveways that face onto the road
- Riverview Drive was built to serve the 1500 home development planned for the site back in the early 1980's.
In contrast, the Alternative 5b access route doesn't actually exist today, and may never be built due to outstanding challenges with the potential access route and parking area.
- Alternative 5b significantly disrupts Spano Park by building a road right through the center of it. Spano Park is the only City of Fresno park that directly overlooks the river.
- Alternative 5b requires the re-engineering of the bluff face to build a road down the bluff. The preliminary engineering cost estimate for this road is $5 million - and that doesn't include any land acquisition costs.
- Alternative 5b culminates in a parking lot on a former landfill that is privately owned. The owners of this landfill have offered to donate the site to the City of Fresno for approximately 30 years, but the City has refused to take it since it is a regulated landfill with associated environmental liabilities.
- Alternative 5b destroys approximately 20 mature Western Sycamore trees. You can take a look at the scale of these trees in the photos below.
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.
Please join us on Wednesday, December 13th at the public hearing on the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR), and ask the Conservancy Board to approve Alternative 1. It is important that the Conservancy Board hear from you.
December 13, 2017 at 10:30 am - The meeting will be held at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District Auditorium located at 808 Fourth Street, Clovis, CA 93612.
Over the past year, 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 allow direct access to 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 direct 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.
We have to work together to make sure this doesn't happen. Join us at the meeting on Wednesday, December 13th 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.