The Pleasant Valley Recreation & Park District approved a study that would bring a new system of bike paths, hiking trails and open space that extends from Camarillo to the Santa Monica Mountains.
Source of this article: The Ventura County Star, January 3, 2013
Board members unanimously decided to adopt the Open Space, Trails and Greenway Planning Study prepared by Rincon Consultants Inc. at their meeting Wednesday night.
The study identified nearly 10,000 acres of open space — mostly foothill slopes of the western Santa Monica Mountains — that overlap areas in the Santa Monica Conservancy. The area borders Santa Rosa and Potrero roads in Camarillo, the Conejo Valley and CSU Channel Islands.
Park district Superintendent Daryl Wager said the decision gives the district “a seat at the table” and an opportunity to continue to collaborate with the conservancy.
“The study will become a working planning document for the district as we move forward into this area,” Wager said.
The idea for a study stemmed from talks more than a year ago between the district and conservancy.
“This is our toe in the water for open space,” Wager said. “Santa Monica Conservancy is probably one of the largest gatekeepers for funding of open space in the area. … They have that ability, both federal and state, to allocate grants. We want to work with them as much as possible and keep that relationship very solid.”
Before the vote, park district board member Mike Mishler said he was concerned about adopting the study because he wanted to make sure the district could change the trail systems if challenges arose in the future. Wager told board members that updating the study’s trailheads would be possible but would require going through the Ventura County Assessor’s Office and possibly hiring another consultant.
The project cost $28,040, which was funded through a $32,000 grant by the conservancy, officials said.
On Wednesday, Wager said the district would continue to work with the conservancy and use the remaining money to expand on some key areas of the green space plan.
“The intent is to spend the rest of those funds getting copies of the study to stakeholders,” Wager said.
Steve Svete of Rincon Consultants reviewed the plan and recommendations with board members during a study session before Wednesday’s meeting. One recommendation he mentioned was “moderate opportunities” for the district in the future to acquire higher ranking parcels in the study area through a fee or easement.
The study area consists of regional open spaces, existing and proposed public trail systems and wildlife corridors that overlap areas of land owned by the conservancy. Potential open-space holdings owned by Pleasant Valley include 26 acres at Camarillo Grove Park. An additional 428 acres of undeveloped land surrounding the park could also be included in the final preservation plan that is currently managed under a use agreement with a private landowner.