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Price tag placed at $14M

Transforming Wolf Creek’s meandering path through two miles of blackberry bushes and concrete into a green parkway for Grass Valley remains an unfunded vision.

At an estimated $14 million for the deluxe, full build-out version endorsed this week by the city’s parks and planning boards, The Wolf Creek Parkway plan represents an expensive, daunting and lengthy process.

“We’re looking at a generational thing,” said Dale White, chairman of the city planning commission.



“It’s an expensive vision, but something that will be well worth it,” said Planning Commissioner David Emanuel.

Many in the community share Emanuel’s optimism, with the exception of some who live along the creek and fear more noise, crime, loss of wildlife and privacy. Others see it as way to connect downtown to the rest of the city and a growing number of trails that traverse it.




Still others see it as an economic boon to a downtown that is ready to attract conventioneers with the new Holiday Inn Express motel under construction. Recreationists see it as an avenue for shopping, fitness, safe walks to school and an easy way for tourists to get around.

But doing and dreaming are two different things and those involved so far are resigned to that, but not deterred.

“It provides cohesiveness to a town divided by the highway,” said Sally Bartindale, a city resident and member of the Wolf Creek Alliance that helped mold the plan. From the parents’ side of the issue, “It provides safe corridors for our kids so we don’t have to drive them; everywhere.”

At the Grass Valley Planning Commission meeting this week, city recreation manager Sandy Jacobson said the overall goal of the plan, “is to connect neighborhoods, parks and other community places.” Jacobson said Thursday that enjoining the public into the process over the last year has helped to make things clear as the plan evolved.

But some say they were not made aware of the plan and still resist it.

Naysayer neighbors

One of those people is Donna Reynolds, who lives in the tight 300 block of Main Street with the creek and Golden Center Freeway as a backdrop between Bennett Street and Idaho-Maryland Road.

“There is a blue heron in that creek,” Reynolds said. She also fears crime and that loitering youths will frequent a projected cantilevered walkway across the stream that would hug the freeway ramp wall.

Burt Spangler lives in the 400 block of Mill Street between downtown and Highway 20.

The creek recently flooded his backyard and he fears another cantilevered walkway across the stream from his house would ruin his privacy and take out more foliage that blocks the view and sound of the freeway.

“It will be a congregation point for the gangs that now hang out around Safeway,” Spangler said. “Will it be policed?

Plotting the course

Jacobson said the parkway would be policed and that wheelchair access is part of the conceptual plan. She also said the plan breaks the parkway into six “reaches” or sections that could be implemented one-by-one or in a collective effort as grant money becomes available.

If the city council embraces the plan, the task of finding the money for the parkway would begin. Grant monies exist for such projects and others have been done in San Luis Obispo, Reno, Ashland, Ore. and Boulder, Colo.

RRM Engineering, which put the Wolf Creek plan together for the city, has done a number of parkways, including those in Santa Rosa and Avila Beach. Whether they will help build one here remains to be seen.

The plan is far from being set in stone, according to city officials, and would see official environmental scrutiny and study if the city council pursues it.

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Parkway could be built in six separate pieces

The parkway plan breaks the proposed path into six “reaches” or sections that could be implemented one-by-one or in a collective effort.

Those sections are proposed as being:

• The Idaho-Maryland Reach, from Sutton Way to Railroad Avenue – Perhaps the easiest area to deal with because the creek is open and amenable to a pathway and linear park.

• The Railroad Avenue Reach, where the creek flows under the freeway – The parkway would go along the sidewalks under the freeway bridge and up to the Idaho-Maryland intersection with Main Street. An alternative route would be to go along Railroad Street on the south side of the freeway, over the hill behind the industrial area and back down to Bennett St.

• The East Main Reach, along the street from Idaho-Maryland Road to Bennett Street – The is where a cantilevered walkway is envisioned to traverse the tight area.

• The Downtown Reach, a shaded parkway along Tinloy Street, through the Auburn-Neal-Colfax intersection and to a trailhead behind Safeway – The creek goes underground from Bank Street to a point behind Safeway. Some would like to see the creek unearthed, but the plan did not concede that and the closeness of the freeway could make it difficult.

• Mill Street Reach, from Safeway to Highway 20 – Where another cantilevered boardwalk is envisioned. Some who live along this stretch are adamantly opposed.

• Downstream Reach, from Highway 20 along the creek as it goes past Glenn Jones Park and the Pelton Wheel Mining Museum – The most expensive portion of the plan would include a pedestrian and bicycling tunnel under the freeway to the cantilevered walk area behind the Swiss House Restaurant.

To contact senior staff writer Dave Moller, e-mail davem@theunion.com or call 477-4237.


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