Starting their hike on a hilly road that is mapped as a future home lot, the Community Services District and the Rancho Murieta Association boards held a joint meeting recently, walking around Lake Chesbro with community members to discuss different types of trails and what might be implemented as part of North development. Click photo for larger image
What kind of trail system should connect post-development Rancho Murieta North: Paved trails? Dirt trails? A mix? That question sparked a walking-around joint meeting of the Rancho Murieta Association and the Community Services District boards one afternoon last month.
CSD and RMA directors met with community members at the parking area at Puerto Drive and Camino Del Lago on April 20, said a few words, answered some questions, and then headed out to examine existing trails to learn about the different types. There were three dozen people at the start of the session, which lasted about 90 minutes, but a third of them didn't hike around to look at the different trails.
Walking around Lake Chesbro on a beautiful spring afternoon, even with developer Tom deRegt along, it was easy to forget the reality that there’s a change afoot larger than whether dirt roads should be paved.
As the group started its walk, members headed down the steep, wide dirt road that leads to Lake Chesbro. No one mentioned it, but the road is destined to be bulldozed for Lot 107, Village H, according to the latest development maps available to the public. DeRegt told the walking meeting that developers had just submitted new maps to the county. The county hasn’t yet released those maps to the public.
Community members at the meeting seemed aligned with the Murieta Trails Stewardship, which urged its members to show up. Audience questions of RMA General Manager Greg Vorster unanimously stated a preference for dirt trails.
Vorster replied that a mix of dirt and paved trails is envisioned. Paved trails are better for pushing a stroller and for elderly and impaired walkers, he said.
Jason Zenker, head of the trails stewardship, spoke at the outset of the meeting, along with Mark Pecotich, president of the CSD and a past leader of the trails group. The trails stewardship is maintaining miles of dirt trails cut over the years by neighbor Roger Brandt along with other volunteers, and has mapped the trails, named them and put up signs. It also helped build the now-shuttered bicycle pump track at Riverview Park.
RMA Director Sam Somers Sr. said the stewardship's system of trails is not being considered for paving. “We’re talking about the lakes, just on one side of Clementia, all the way around Chesbro and all the way around Calero. Those are the primary paved roads,” he told the group.
The group heard more about trail types as the tour went along.
Murieta Parkway, with its designated bike lanes, is an example of an on-street trail. A single-track trail is a multi-use trail, Pecotich explained when the group stopped at one of the trails built and maintained by residents. The unpaved trail was low-cost to create and used by hikers, bikers, golf carts, children and adults of all ages, he said. Somers described where the trail goes and other popular trails it connects to, concluding, “It’s just absolutely fabulous.” Zenker added, “There’s 14 miles of this type of trail.”
The tour also stopped at the paved portion of the Chesbro trail. With houses on one side and sparkling water on the other, the group gathered in front of bollards that block vehicle traffic but can be removed for emergency and maintenance vehicles. Vorster explained that the trail is “very similar” to the paved trail that’s being proposed. The Class 1 trail, the county’s standard for paved trails, would be 12 feet wide, with two-foot shoulders. He said the shoulders can be dirt, as they are on the American River Parkway, which accommodates runners.
At a CSD committee meeting Tuesday morning, a consultant delivered a report on a variety of projects the CSD needs “to facilitate and provide the necessary level of service” as development occurs. The projects will be funded by developer fees. One of the projects called for paved lakeside trails that allow CSD to access its water treatment plant and infrastructure at the community’s reservoirs.
Vorster, the RMA general manager, was at the session. He said he has hoped to put in a 12-foot-wide paved path at the lakes, and the CSD consultant was proposing a 20-foot-wide paved path.
“And then the other issue is, if you look at the existing maps that are now at the county, they don’t (even) provide access for a 12-foot path, so you’re going to have a hard time getting 20 feet of asphalt in there,” he added. Getting to the path would be a problem, too, since the current access to Chesbro will be “all houses,” Vorster said.
Vorster asked if CSD planned to participate in the land planning process to make sure it can protect its interests. CSD General Manager Darlene Thiel said the developer would have to update easements and the CSD would have to participate in the planning process.
The community’s parks agreements call for landowners to develop “a system of pedestrian and bike trails, constructed to standards and specifications as approved by the Parks Committee,” and then to deed the trails to the RMA.
Decisions about the trails will be made by the Parks Committee, where the RMA has two votes, developers have two votes and CSD has one vote. That would make the CSD the swing vote on an issue that has divided the RMA and developers.