John Courtney, standing at front, facilitates a meeting regarding the fate of the New York Creek Trail Saturday morning. Approximately 75 residents attended to discuss whether sections of the trail should be widened or left alone. Village Life photo by Julie Samrick

News

Residents disagree on best plan for trail

By From page A1 | June 07, 2017

Approximately 75 people attended a community stakeholder meeting Saturday morning to see if a consensus could be arrived at regarding the fate of a one-mile stretch of the New York Creek Trail.

In early 2017 the El Dorado Hills Community Services District, which owns and maintains the trail, sent notices to 20 homeowners who live between Jackson Elementary and Falkirk Way that the district would be widening the trail to 8 feet to safely make it multi-use while retaining the wooded characteristics of the area.

“In some areas it is narrow, has trip hazards, brush overhead and limited sight lines around tight turns,” said CSD Director of Recreation Jill Ritzman earlier this year. “Only one small tree may be removed due to its proximity to the trail and its declining health.”

Some residents told Village Life they think the the CSD Board of Directors, which allocated $200,000 toward the trail enhancements, jumped the gun. Although a “no bike” ordinance has been in effect since 1986, many cyclists use the trail, from recreational mountain bikers to children who use it as a safe route to travel off main roads. Bicyclists and pedestrians had been coexisting on the trail peacefully, according to some residents. Others disagree and said the enhancements would degrade the quiet nature trail and invite more cyclists to use it. They would like to see some of the money used to clean up the trail and place clearer “no bike” signage instead.

Resident Eric Hildebrandt has been a vocal opponent of the enhancements. He and his group, which call themselves Friends of New York Creek, notified the CSD in March that widening the path to 8 feet in all sections would cross property lines of at least eight of the 20 homes that back up to the trail.

At that point the CSD decided to put the project on hold and initiate a thorough stakeholder process.

“The New York Creek Trail is a community asset,” said CSD General Manager Kevin Loewen. “But our eyes were opened when we learned a significant number of people didn’t want the enhancements. We want to know from the community what they want … The trail goes on private property. What are those homeowners’ interests?”

At the stakeholder meeting John Courtney from Verde Designs was hired to facilitate the workshop. He gave an overview and history of the project before attendees broke into small groups. The event ended with a larger, roundtable discussion.

As many trail bikers attended the meeting as neighbors who would like to see the no bikes rule upheld. CSD Directors Noelle Mattock and Billy Vandegrift attended but left before the round table discussion. “I’m listening to the feedback of the community but don’t want to influence anyone,” Mattock said.

“We were able to find common ground and the district will build on that,” Director of Recreation Jill Ritzman said after the event.

“As a launch pad it was good, but I feel like the CSD has already decided what they’re going to do,” said resident Mary Beth Todd.

“It’s a waste of money. I don’t want any more money spent on this,” said resident Patty Lindsay.

“As a family with young kids who love riding off the busy streets and on our lovely CSD New York Creek Trail, I fully support the continued sharing of this trail,” said resident Pamela Kropf.

“Most people are in agreement to just leave the trail alone,” said resident Jack Davidson after the event. “The bikers were the only ones who want to see it happen and one lady at the meeting who was trying to influence others to widen the trail is from Folsom.”

“The meeting was pretty heated at times,” Hildebrandt said. “There was no consensus except that all agreed no changes should be made to the trail. For bikers this means they get to keep riding there and for us it means it stays pedestrians only but the CSD posts it better.”

“We are not actively pursuing a bike trail,” Loewen said. “We want to know what does the community want and need and what will make people safe?”

Loewen said he is visiting homes in that neighborhood and that the CSD would abandon the plan if that’s what the community wants. Part of the project that would most likely happen is to add interpretive signage on the trail, which has been a plan in the works for years to identify “the history and treasures” of New York Creek for pedestrians, he added.

The CSD also encourages El Dorado Hills residents to sign up for FlashVote, an online service that would help the CSD figure out what residents want and need by geographic location, including the trail. “FlashVote is for any local government to find out what their community really wants and needs, whenever they want,” it states on the website. “FlashVote makes scientific survey data over 90 percent easier, faster and cheaper for governments, so representative public input and guidance can become a core part of government operations. Citizens have exceptional levels of participation and trust in FlashVote because we are independent from governments and do thorough non-partisan quality control.”

To sign-up for the El Dorado Hills FlashVote visit flashvote.com/el-dorado-hills-ca.

A second workshop on the issue is scheduled for July 8 and a final report of the findings will be presented at the EDHCSD Board of Directors meeting on Aug. 1.

Julie Samrick

Discussion | 2 comments

  • CodyJune 09, 2017 - 6:58 pm

    Hildebrandt and other bike-haters are making an issue out of this where one needn't exists. Bikes and pedestrians have peacefully shared this trail for years, with the only ammo against bikes being a few negative encounters between both groups. As a cyclist I can say I've also had a few negative encounters from runners with headphones not able to hear anything, dogs off leash, and belligerent hikers, but it has never caused any harm and hasn't diminished my experience of using the trail in the 6 or so years I've been riding it. The trail should be made bike legal, interpretive signs should be put in, and sight lines should be improved. End of discussion, it will not do ANY harm to ANYONE except the crazies who have it in their heads bikes equal danger, and will only enhance the community.

    Reply
  • Shannon McCormickJune 11, 2017 - 8:39 pm

    I was one of the people who attended this meeting. I take my 3 year old and 6 year old on this trail on their bikes on a weekly basis. I understand there is a fear by some hikers/pedestrians that bikes make the trail unsafe, but I beg to disagree here. Try riding a bike with little kids through the neighborhoods/villages that have no sidewalks. Most cars cannot see my 3 year old, and she has been almost run over a few times, thus my reason for moving my children to the trail. Can there not be a compromise? Multi-use or just bikes on even days and just hikers/pedestrians on odd days? That way all groups could continue to use this trail. I'm very disturbed that the walking only group has dominated the discussion. My house is on Busselton Way, and my back yard backs up to the trail. To make the trail pedestrian only would be a disservice to our children.

    Reply

Search


  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

  • Follow Us On Facebook

  • Special Publications »

    Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Service (updated 4/30/2015) and Privacy Policy (updated 4/7/2015).
    Copyright (c) 2017 McNaughton Newspapers, Inc., a family-owned local media company that proudly publishes the Daily Republic, Mountain Democrat, Davis Enterprise, Village Life, Winters Express, Georgetown Gazette, EDC Adventures, and other community-driven publications.