Parkway project rolls along

Groups opposing have ‘old information’ supporters of the trail access plan say
By: Brad Smith Telegraph Correspondent
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Having received money from the Proposition 50/California River Parkways Grant Program and matching funds from the city’s budget, the Lake Natoma Waterfront and Trail Access Enhancement Project is entering its next phase before construction begins some time next year. The land on which the project will be built on is owned by the Federal Bureau of Reclamation and managed by the California State Parks. Parks and recreation director Robert Goss and senior trails coordinator Jim Konopka both said that the project calls for the construction of a pedestrian promenade along the shoreline and an Americans with Disabilities Act access route from the Folsom Historic District to Lake Natoma. As part of the trail, four small bridges are planned to cross existing drainages and one of the bridges will be designed to accommodate an overlook structure. An additional element of the project is providing shoreline improvements to facilitate small watercraft launches. The future phases of improvements include completion of a Class I bike trail from behind the Lake Natoma Inn to the Historic Truss Bridge, completing the 12-mile loop around Lake Natoma. Also, a part of the future phase is the construction of a bike/pedestrian undercrossing at Rainbow Bridge to connect the trail to the Historic Truss Bridge. Goss said that the project was conceived a few years ago. “The city has always worked hard to bring people and nature closer together,” Goss said. The Lake Natoma Waterfront and Trail Access Enhancement Project, he said, does just that. While some have said that along the American River Parkway, which spans nearly 30 miles, has a number of public access points, Goss said that the Lake Natoma project will actually give the city its own access point. “Until now,” he said, “all access points have been out of the city limits.” With the funding in place, Konopka said the project is now entering the California Environmental Quality Act phase. “With CEQA, there will be several months of testing and research, to see what the environmental impact will be,” he explained. Goss said there would be community forums, where the public will be invited to voice their views about the Lake Natoma project. There has all ready been some criticism of the project. The Save the American River Association sent a letter to the governor, other officials, agencies and the media, critical of the project. The letter, dated Nov. 17 of last year, had what Goss and Konopka said was “old information.” Goss said that the letter insinuates that Folsom is going through with the project despite the State Parks’ objections. “That’s not true,” he said. “More than a year ago, it was true,” Konopka said. However, they say the city revised its plans and spent a lot of time working with the State Parks agency. “We do have a letter of support from State Parks,” he said, “contrary to what the SARA letter said or what other media reports have stated.” Goss added that the city will maintain a close working relationship with State Parks as the project progresses. Goss said that the project also has the support of the Folsom History Museum, Folsom Historic District Merchants Association, Folsom Heritage Preservation League, Historic Folsom Residents Association and the Friends of the Folsom Powerhouse. Goss welcomes more public input as time goes on. “If anyone wants to talk about it, he or she is more than welcome to stop at my office to do so.” Konopka said the project will be a source of pride. “When this is completed,” Konopka asserted, “the community will have something that they all can be proud of. It’s going to be something special.”