By JM Brown, Santa Cruz Sentinel
SANTA CRUZ >> Rail Trail supporters will announce Tuesday more than $40,000 in private donations toward creating a 2.4-mile Santa Cruz segment of the highly anticipated pedestrian and bicycling path stretching from Watsonville to Davenport.
Piet Canin, vice president of the transportation group at Ecology Action, said five bicycling companies and several nonprofit organizations have collaborated to raise money for Segment 7 of the Rail Trail connecting Natural Bridges Drive to the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf. The paved path is the highest priority of the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission’s Rail Trail Master Plan envisioning 32 miles of trail adjacent to the coastal rail line.
“This is just the start of the ongoing effort to provide funds to the project,” Canin said, noting the donations to date reflect “how popular it is.”
After the announcement at the opening of Tuesday’s City Council meeting, city leaders are slated to vote on allowing the Public Works Department to solicit qualifications from firms interested in the design and environmental services contract for the segment, which is estimated to cost $640,000. Construction, to be completed in 2018, is expected to cost $3.5 million and involve crossing three rail sections, 14 streets and three drainage areas.
Nearly a year ago, the RTC granted more than $4 million to the Santa Cruz segment as part of a $5.3 million allocation for the overall project. The agency also funded work on Lee Road east to a slough trail connection in Watsonville and Twin Lakes bike and pedestrian improvements in Live Oak.
Amelia Conlen, executive director of the bicycling advocacy group People Power, said the organization raised $9,000 toward the $40,000 collected to date. Additionally, a People Power member has pledged $50,000 toward construction of the Santa Cruz segment, which she said will be a critical link between schools, the wharf to Westside businesses and to Wilder Ranch trails.
“We get questions all the time: ‘Is the rail trail really going to happen?’” Conlen said. “It will be great to be able to show them something concrete (Tuesday).”
The city has committed $1.2 million from 2015-2017 in capital improvements funds for the project. Tuesday, the council also will consider a six-month pilot to test changes in mobile vending rules to accommodate the growing food truck industry. The program would allow trucks to stop at parks and up to three to set up on private property without permits but with conditions. Trucks also could operate on Cooper Street in front of the Museum of Art and History during First Friday events.
Additionally, the council will consider a library financing agreement that will put in place a framework for governing facility improvement funds if voters approve a special tax in June. The council also will receive an update on the financial outlook of the city’s agreement with the Santa Cruz Warriors and consider authorizing talks with team officials for a permanent arena.
No evening session is scheduled.
Santa Cruz City Council
What: Consideration of design and environmental services contract for the Segment 7 of the Rail Trail; review of library improvements financing agreement; update on Santa Cruz Warriors agreement and consider authorizing talks for permanent arena.
When: 2:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Council Chamber, 809 Center St.