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Celebration and Protest as Arana Gulch Bike Path Breaks Ground

It's been 15 years of debate but the bike path around Arana Gulch broke ground Friday.

Mayor Hilary Bryant and Supervisor Neal Coonerty spoke favorably about the project.
Mayor Hilary Bryant and Supervisor Neal Coonerty spoke favorably about the project.
This is one of those only in Santa Cruz stories.

Only in this city could a bike path that will give access to a nature preserve to people in wheelchairs and a safe bike commuting route become the subject of ardent debate.

That's what happened Friday as city and county officials broke ground on the project at Arana Gulch, a 63-acre greenbelt above the upper Yacht Harbor, that is now crossed with dirt paths. The $4.9 million, two-mile project will pave an eight-foot-wide path through the preserve that will safely connect a trail for bicycles between Brommer Street and Broadway. They now have to cross the Murray Street Bridge, which is scheduled to be widened next year.

While some bicyclists were happy, others thought the trail and its construction would harm the ecosystem around one of the last undeveloped areas in the heart of Santa Cruz (see video). They were concerned that foxes and owls wouldn't be able to hunt and would be overwhelmed by the paving process.

The fight over the project has gone on for two decades. First people were concerned about a rare plant called Santa Cruz Tarplant, but when the designers kept trails away from the plant patches, it won enough support.

There are already complaints about the construction: trails were supposed to be kept open for joggers and walkers, however, with chain link fence blocking the old trail, they now lead through the endangered plants.

The path is supposed to be finished in several months. 

Tell us your opinion in the comments below. 


Jean November 15, 2013 at 10:22 PM
Thanks to the patch for covering this sad story of celebration of the demise of our greenbelt. There is not a "path." Broadway Brommer (BB) is an 8' wide paved route with 2' graded shoulders, for a total of 12' wide, which will slice the 20 acres of grassland in two. The abutment base for the Hagemann bridge spans 50 feet. This is an industrial project in a small natural area and it will be joined by a second 8' wide, 2' shoulders paved route from Agnes St. to meet BB. More pavement; less living soil.
Tony Flagg November 15, 2013 at 11:52 PM
Great to see this project finally break ground.
kem akol November 17, 2013 at 12:20 PM
it took 15 years to get this done...amazing how the 1% can keep the 99% from moving FORWARD...thank you to Chris Scnieder and the City staff for being so persistent!
Jean November 17, 2013 at 01:01 PM
Whatever the correct percent, we worked to save the already small Arana Gulch greenbelt from being cut in half by an industrial sized paved bike trail, that will be moot as soon as the Rail Trail, 1/4 mile away gives bicyclists & pedestrians what they have pined for lo these many years. "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

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