The River West Fresno Trail Extension project is about to be approved. The San Joaquin River Conservancy is the lead agency for the project. In December, the Conservancy Board will vote on what will be included in the final project. Please join us on Wednesday, December 13th, 2017, and ask the Conservancy Board to approve access with Alternative 1.
December 13, 2017 at 10:00 am *Location to be announced.
The San Joaquin River Conservancy is proposing a project to extend the Lewis S. Eaton Trail approximately 2.5 miles on over 500 acres of public land. The project site is called Spano River Ranch or River West Fresno and is located between Highway 41 and Palm Avenue.
The River West Fresno project will provide public access to 500 acres of open space and the San Joaquin River. Once complete, there will be a continuous trail from the River Center to Palm and Nees.
The proposed River West Fresno project includes one vehicle access point at the Perrin Avenue Undercrossing off of Highway 41. This is excellent access for residents of Madera County. The proposed project access point would require an additional 10 mile round trip for Fresno residents to the Fresno property. Fresno residents would have to drive in to Madera County on Highway 41, and then back into Fresno on the old 41 bridge to reach the site.
The Draft Environmental Impact Report also studied project alternatives to provide additional vehicle access to the project site from Fresno. Alternative 1 would provide access at Riverview Dr just off Audubon, a public road to a public property. Alternative 5 would provide vehicle access on an old gravel haul road near Palm and Nees. The River Parkway Trust is encouraging the Conservancy Board to approve the River West EIR with Alternative 1 —providing additional vehicle access to the project site from the City of Fresno.
Here's a quick review of why the River Parkway Trust supports Alternative 1:
Without Alternative 1 or Alternative 5 residents will not have vehicle access to River West Fresno within Fresno.
In June of this year, the City of Fresno asked the Conservancy to delay approval of the River West Fresno EIR in order to allow the City to develop an additional alternative. The Conservancy Board approved the City's request, and the EIR now includes another access alternative called 5b. This is different from the real Alternative 5 in that it does not use an existing road. Instead it requires the construction of a new road into the riverbottom. This road would be built through the middle of Spano Park, down the steep bluff face at the end of Palm Avenue, and culminate in a parking lot on an old landfill. The owners of this landfill have been trying to donate the property to the City of Fresno for more than 30 years, and the City has refused to accept it due to concerns about environmental liability. Here are the key points about Alternative 5b:
Please join us the San Joaquin River Conservancy Meetings on December 13. The Conservancy needs to hear from you. Come ask the Conservancy Board to approve Alternative 1 and provide access to River West Fresno in Fresno.
To help you visualize the potential access to River West Fresno, we made some videos. Links are included below.
Proposed Project and Alternative 1 - Please note that you need to watch the entire video to see the Alternative 1 access point.
Click on the links below to read the River Parkway Trust’s email communication regarding the River West Fresno DEIR.
There have been a number of news articles about the River West Project over the past few years. Here are links to recent media coverage:
November 29, 2017, Fresno Bee: Candidate for governor supports public access to river via controversial route
November 21, 2017, Vida en el valle: Area’s diverse community lacks agency representation
November 16, 2017, Fresno Bee: Decision about public access to San Joaquin River delayed – again – at marathon meeting
November 15, 2017, ABC30: Contentious debate over public access to the San Joaquin River raged at Fresno City Hall
November 12, 2017, Fresno Bee: Deck is stacked against the public interest in crucial San Joaquin River vote
November 7, 2017, Vida en el valle: Access to River West Fresno project crucial for underserved communities
November 7, 2017, ABC30: River West project near Woodward Park delayed
June 1, 2017, Fresno Bee: Enough stalling. Now’s the time to improve recreation along San Joaquin River